A Vampire Survivors: Whiteout update

Before we get into the  reviewy stuff, I should apologize for missing updates and explain. I was rushing to get reviews together from a book I’ve been loving, a mobile game I have mixed feelings on, and an RPG that’s damn near broke me. All of them were close to the finish line when my dog Toffi died. It’s been close to two weeks since then, and I’m still waking up and looking around for her. The husband is still calling for her when it’s time to take the other furbabies out for walkies. So, yeah, we both needed time to process, and we’re not really done with that.

On top of that, I’m using November’s NaNoWriMo as the kick in the ass I needed to get back into writing books like I used to. I’m making steady progress there, but that means I might be a little light on reviews because I was too busy trying to plan crimes most heinous for my characters to solve. So if I miss a few posts, just bear with me, and I promise the new book is going to make up for my lack of reviews.

With all that out of the way, I’m sure I’ve mentioned before that it’s rare for a review to be the final word on most games these days. There’s constant tweaking and balance changes for some that can drastically alter a game for better or worse. Otherwise there can be added content, either as paid DLC or as free updates.

The vast majority of the professional review sites rarely revisit games to offer new reviews in light of these changes, but to be fair, most have been struck from the lists for early review copies for daring to call game publishers like EA, Activision-Blizzard, and Ubisoft out for their shitty policies. I respect them for that, but it means they have to buy games on release day, and then play them as fast as possible. It’s a race to see who can put out the first proper reviews, so they don’t have a lot of free time to pick an old game back up and try out the shiny new toys that got added after their review.

I however, have lots of free time, and given that Vampire Survivors remains high on my list of favorite games to chill out with, a recently released winter-themed update boasting a new character, weapon, relic, bonus level, and character morph sounded like the perfect excuse to get back into the senseless slaughter of thousands of rampaging monsters.

So, first of all, the new character, She-Moon Eeta, is a blast to play. Armed with the new weapon, a spear called Glass Fandango, she is good to go for a single weapon challenge run, or for just picking up random weapons and evolving them. The Glass Fandango will focus attacks in the direction She-Moon is walking, but it can also chain attacks in a star shape around her. When paired with classic items like the Empty Tome, Candelabrador, and Spellbinder, it can turn into a powerful star of death when She-Moon is standing still, or it can act as a wedge to prevent enemy build-up from halting her progress. (Which is a huge problem for some of the lower-tier survivors.)

As a defensive character, She-Moon also has one more fun trick up her sleeve. When her health drops below twenty-five percent, her weapon freezes time, just like the orologian items do. This can only be used once before She-Moon needs to recover to full health to reset it. But it’s damned handy to have in the closing minutes of a run when the screen fills up with much more powerful monsters.

Unfortunately, the evolved spear, Celestial Voulge, suffers from the same problem as Queen Sigma’s evolved Sole Solution: visual vomit. The graphical effects when time freezing is triggered blot out the level, so I can’t see the terrain or obstacles, and I can barely see the enemies. Of the two effects, Sole Solution is definitely worse, but I still think a lot of my future runs with the spear will go without evolving it to make sure I can see where I’m going.

Oh, also, the spear is good to add to certain characters who have holes in their attacks. Folks like Antonio, Pugnala, and Zi’Assunta will find early mobs less stressful as a result, and if they do get overrun, that time freezing ability is a literal life-saver.

The new Whiteout level is also pretty nice. A bonus level, it only runs for twenty minutes, and it features a lot of icy foes and snowmen to plow through before dropping some annoying kitsune on you. Much like the hydra from the Lake Foscari level who stretch their necks to attack across the screen, the kitsune can whip their tails for long distance damage, and they hit real fuckin’ hard. Without investing in defensive items like the Armor and Laurel, they can quickly end a run for anyone whose eyes glazed over from a dopamine high.

The music is good, but that’s no surprise given how solid the whole soundtrack is. What else? Ah, right, there’s a new relic called the Chaos Altemanna, and it’s hidden on the Tiny Bridge level. Collecting it will allow the dog survivor O’Sole Meeo to morph into a pretty flower boy and evolve their Celestial Dusting weapon into Profusione D’Amore. It’s nice, changing the spray of flowers into a kind of tidal wave of leaves and flowers. But if I’m being honest, the morph for Cavallo was more impressive in terms of damage and visual impact.

As part of the announcement of the new update, the developers also mentioned Adventures, which sounds pretty intriguing. It promises to remix elements from each level and create new ways to play and progress. This sounds like a huge improvement over the current random event feature, which has a tendency to keep rolling the same events over and over. (Flower Wall for the fourth time in a row? No, thanks. It’s not even challenging, just tedious.)

And eventually a new co-op mode is coming, and I might have to hunt down an online friend to test it, or to force my husband to play. (He hasn’t been too impressed by the game, so that’s gonna be a hard sell.)

In any case, these new additions will also be free, like the Whiteout update, and I am definitely looking forward to both features when they come out.

In the end, I’d say the Whiteout update gave Vampire Survivors a shiny new hook to pull me back in for several days of “just one more run.” If you already have Vampire Survivors, go ahead and load it back up to try out the new stuff. And if you don’t have the game yet, you really should try it. It’s cheap, it will likely become your favorite way to unwind after a busy day, and you’ll be paying some lovely people and encouraging them to make a new game. And we DO want them to make a new game, y’all. Whatever it is, I’m sure it’s gonna be brilliant.