The final RPS Advent Calendar 2022, December 24th


We’ve reached the very last day of our RPS Advent Calendar for this year! That means that behind this door is our actual Game Of The Year. The GOTYest goat for 2022. Unfortunately, behind the door are also a lot of bats, ghosts, zombies, oh man that looks like a giant praying mantis I think? How on earth are we going to get through all this?

By becoming the bullet hell, motherfuckers! Our Game Of The Year 2022 is Vampire Survivors!

Liam converted this year’s advent calendar picks into video form. What a time to be alive!

Ed: All hail Vampire Survivors, a perfect-sized video game that can be consumed any way you’d like! In a quick bite before you drop the kids off at the panto, one lengthy sesh, or in the corner of the library after school. The aim of the game is simple: you control a little person who periodically auto-attacks, and you must steer them out of harm’s way for as long as you possibly can. “Harm” being slimy ghouls and legions of bats who swap out for enormous mantis lords and colossal minotaurs as the clock ticks down.

As you carve through enemies with a swing of your axe, you’ll hoover up gems that’ll grant you EXP and cash for the bank. And with EXP come levels, which nets you a choice of power-up. Will you take the garlic that gives you a damaging aura? The magic wand? The dove that for some reason is the equivalent of a Call Of Duty harrier? These attacks stack, and eventually you’ll combine them too, so those puny axes might morph into a circle of scythes or your fireballs into full blown meteor strikes.

Whatever cash you earn before you succumb to the slime can be spent on permanent upgrades, which make your runs a tad easier and even more varied. There’s plenty of levels and different characters to choose from too, my favourites being the cursed library that’s basically a long tunnel and a shark-person who chucks cherry bombs. Seriously, it’s wonderful that poncle has brought us such a moreish game that only requires as much time as you’d like it to.

A colourful mess of screen-obscuring explosions in a Vampire Survivors screenshot.

A frantic battle with plant enemies in Vampire Survivors

A colourful burst of violence in a Vampire Survivors screenshot.

A warrior is surrounded by monsters in a library in Vampire Survivors

Alice0: Vampire Survivors was one of my favourite early access experiences. After hammering through the initial blast of unlocks and violence, every fortnight or so, I’d be called back to check out a new character or level or secret or something. Lovely. What a pleasant eleven months of gentle strolls through obscene ultraviolence.

Ollie: Vampire Survivors may not hold a special place in everyone’s heart, but a special game it is, undeniably. Sure, it’s essentially a fidget spinner. I said as much to my colleagues in an intense Slack debate over which game should be game of the year – this or Elden Ring. But it’s a fidget spinner that makes you proclaim “oh, now, what’s this?” every 30 seconds to the legions of werewolves feasting on your personal space. That makes it the best fidget spinner.

Plus, I can play it while also petting my cat. It is therefore a worthy game of the year.

Liam: Does Elden Ring let you combine garlic and multiple copies of the New Testament to create an impenetrable force field that melts skeletons? I didn’t think so. GOTY.

Hellish bullet hell in a Vampire Survivors screenshot.

Rachel: I cannot stop playing this game. It has taken over my life. The feeling of slicing through hordes of monsters like a hot knife through butter is a high I can’t stop chasing.

Alice Bee: As I said to Ollie during said polite discussion, fidget spinners actually perform a very important function for a lot of people. The metaphor does not stretch very far, because fidget spinners do not cause bolts of lightning to strike the ground and frazzle carnivorous plants every 3.2 seconds or so. Vampire Survivors packs a lot of fun and creativity and perfect experience balancing into, at max, half an hour.

I was already on team BATSBATSBATS, but I think what really swung the vote was when Graham, may he RPS in peace, put his thumb on the scales by appearing in our chat like Banquo’s ghost and pointing out that Vampire Survivors reinvigorated a genre and brought it to public consciousness. “In this regard,” he said, “it is the Dark Souls of 2022 video games, whereas Elden Ring is merely the Dark Souls 3 of 2022 video games.” (Except he wrote “videogames”, because he’s one of those people). This is entirely correct, of course. But mostly I voted for Vampire Survivors because it’s really really fucking fun.

Katharine: I have not yet survived a round of Vampire Survivors, but any game that lets you play as an old man whose primary mode of attack is an impenetrable wall of garlic breath is surely deserving of that most coveted GOTY crown. Love you, Poe.

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