Sometimes the best Android games find effective gameplay loops through hyperfocusing on a single aspect of existing game genres. Vampire Survival is a perfect example of this, taking the simple loop of infinite enemy wave survival and refining it into an addictive, easy to pick up experience tailored for top Android phones given the extremely limited input of players. AP wants to end the year with a collection of great mobile games inspired by Vampire Survivors.
One thing that’s great about the VS gameplay loop is the variance in attack types, with melee and ranged attack strategies both receiving constant rewards and upgrades, coupled with the lack of a fire button making for a compelling feedback loop. Super Wizard embodies this extremely well, putting you in control of a wizard battling endless hordes of enemies using a variety of spells. Killing enemies will level you up, which grants access to new skills as well as upgrades to your existing ones. Overall, the attack progression is satisfying, the enemies are creative in a retro-ish way, and Super Wizard is truly a game that’s hard to stop.
20 minutes to sunrise
A more grounded example of what Vampire Survivor’s gameplay loop entails, 20 Minutes Until Dawn is a US-inspired game that focuses on gunfights. While some of the games in this roundup tend to start out a bit slow, this is unfortunately one of them. Your starting revolver attack is noticeably slow and unsatisfying, with a cooldown lasting just long enough to become annoying. This encourages you to try different upgrades to increase the damage, but the slow starting point risks knocking out some players. That said, the attacks have some great consequences once the game gets going, and it’s no less fascinating to play.
The minimalistic graphics of some VP-inspired games can look creepy and even regressive, but you soon learn that a game presents itself this way to compensate for the sheer number of enemies that appear on screen at once. Zombie Survivors, on the other hand, has a modern cartoonish art style alongside a more wanton destruction philosophy. Your character is armed with multiple firearms and sharp-edged weapons, all of which stack on top of each other, increasing your destructive capacity as the enemies grow in strength and numbers. There’s a slight problem with the melee attacks as they’re too rare to be reliable when things get desperate, but the game’s quirky presentation and gunfights more than make up for it. Add to that cool enemy designs and boss fights. What’s not to like?
A slight departure from the formula, Bardbarian follows the VS gameplay loop principle but changes the execution. You take control of a bard facing an army of goblins, your only defense is the power to summon others to fight on your behalf. While this makes for an amusing spectacle, the fact that your attacks come from the area around you rather than exactly where you are can make precision impossible. This is mainly because your party members are constantly changing positions around you, which makes it frustrating as the difficulty increases. A creative and amusing premise that’s somewhat let down by the shaky execution, but you’ll enjoy it as long as you make good investments before it gets real.
Back to the retro style, Marine Survivor is easily the most old-school feeling VP-esque on this roundup. You take control of a space marine and must survive an increasingly dense horde of hostile aliens with explosive weapons. A known issue arises from your starting weapon being slow and unsatisfying, a slow-firing one-hit kill that doesn’t auto-target like other games of this type. You have to manually line up your shots with the same finger you use to move, which is as awkward as it sounds, especially when you’re being attacked from all sides. That said, the game’s creative and destructive weapons make up for it, as it’s a blast to use. It takes a while to get going, but it’s definitely worth the extra effort.
Legend of Slime: Idle RPG
While not a true blue VS-esque, Legend of the Slime embodies many of the qualities associated with an idle, wave-based mobile game. You control a small blue slime and must move forward at all costs, while knocking down opponents. The gameplay presentation resembles a runner game, but turns out to be very much like a US-inspired title in practice. Both movement and combat are completely inactive; the interactive element is to pour the money your enemies drop into your stats, increasing your attack damage, health, and health recovery. In many ways, this is the antonym of VS-style gameplay, a system where you directly control level-ups rather than movement. Legend of the Slime presents itself well, balancing challenges without getting too easy. Give it a try if you’re looking for something different.
If I were asked which game on the Play Store best represents the VS gameplay loop, it would be Hero Survival. The setup is what you would expect; you are in a field and must fend off endless waves of enemies with an assortment of weapons and magical spells. This game doesn’t hide its intention of sucking you in with instant gratification, upgrades are semi-constant and chests of further loot are found scattered around the area and occasionally give you a magnet that gains all the XP points on the map. Your offensive measures feel great to use, and the enemy sprites evoke early Castlevania titles, getting me in the mood for the best arcade games on Android. Hero Survival is very well put together and devilishly addictive.
Lonely Survivor, set in a different VS-esque mage theme, puts you in control of a mage under attack from numerous enemies. You must rely on various spells to defend yourself against enemies, using fireball projectiles, lightning bolts, damaging shields and more, all upgraded by defeating enemies. This is yet another example of a very hard to put down game, with its positive reinforcement, hypnotic waves of enemies and the dopamine hit delivered by a shield that instantly kills anything it touches. As good as the game is, the usual appeal of a VS-like is the borderless map with no constrictions, but the boss fights in this game put you in closed arenas until the boss is dead, which affects the pace a bit. But overall, this game is extremely enjoyable.
Pure shooting and loot is the name of the game
We hope you enjoyed our selection of Vampire Survivors clones in today’s roundup. These games are all worth checking out as they are all subtly different, and you’ll probably find a favorite after a few games. Let us know which titles won you over below and check back soon for more of this great little subgenre. And be sure to check out these brilliant Android tablets and use a wider screen to display more enemies, and why not check out some great tablet-optimized apps on Android while you’re at it? This subgenre is erupting right now, so if you have any suggestions for what qualifies as a great VP like, we’d love to hear from you. Until next time.