You can only experience Vampire Survivors for the first time, once, and have this giddy feeling of not knowing what’s coming, and oh my god, there aren’t many enemies , and what does it do, and how can I scale this. Everything is to be discovered and it is the discovery that is a delight.
With repeated play comes the knowledge you’ll need to beat it, but also a sense of need to beat it, and that comes with frustration when you don’t – when you don’t do as well as the previous round, or build as optimally as possible. And it starts to irritate you how long the attempts actually take, with all the stops – much closer to 45 minutes than the 30-minute time limit levels apparently have. What started as a quick game becomes a slog.
And after a while, although the compulsion is still strong, you find that the pleasure has started to leak out.
But developer poncle has found a solution and it’s deliciously simple: mini-extensions. A way to re-introduce you to characters, powers, and cards you don’t know. And the last of them, Tides of the Foscari, rejuvenated Vampire Survivors for me.
Like Legacy of the Moonspell before it, Tides of the Foscari adds a bunch of new characters, a bunch of new weapons and evolutions, lots of new music you’ll be listening to a lot, and a great new map. And what I particularly like is the way you can feel the evolution of poncle’s thinking behind it.
Characters, for example: they have new attacks that you’ve never seen before, and they also automatically (!) unlock other new powers that you’ve never seen before, as they level up. The mage you play first gains three new spells, which together combine to evolve into something spectacular – a screen-filling vortex of magical destruction. Then there’s the guy with the big (stable!) sword who has a fifth-hit finisher built into his main attack, which, to really get the most out of it, you need to keep count of. Cool huh?! Look, I realize none of this sounds exciting on the page, but in-game, it feels exciting and different. And that’s exactly what I want.
We also feel the evolution of thought in the way the characters are given to you, which, in short, is done “slowly”. Poncle clearly doesn’t want to splurge all at once, and Tides of the Foscari is better for that.
You can also see the evolution on the map. You’ll recall that the default maps in Vampire Survivors are endlessly repeating locations with no discernible shape or story, but here Lake Foscari, as it’s called, has distinct areas and areas and areas and areas. hidden labyrinths. And it will tempt you towards the most dangerous parts of it with power-ups highlighted on your map, because with them you can go beyond the limit of powers you can otherwise hold. In a game about building yourself to be super powerful, that’s very appealing.
Or, if you’re too strong, you can hunt down highlighted Curse power-ups on your map and increase enemy difficulty that way. You should try this for various reasons that I won’t reveal here, but good luck – it’s hard.
How long poncle can keep developing vampire survivors like this, before it all becomes a cumbersome mess, I don’t know. But for now, it’s perfect. Tides of the Foscari and Legacy of the Moonspell are a great way to rediscover the game.
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