Niche Games Spotlight – The Vampire Survivors Genre

When Vampire Survivors released I was absolutely hooked. Seeing this new genre spawn right in front of my eyes was very exciting, and I’m guessing other developers felt the same, because it wasn’t long before similar games started popping up.

I decided to call these titles “Vampire Survivors-likes“, mostly because I’m not comfortable with calling these games clones, as the genre isn’t defined and the best name that we have so far is “Reverse Bullet Hell.”

Reverse bullet hell as a genre moniker isn’t always the case, as in some games it just happens to be a two-way bullet hell. Saying that all of these games are the same is a bit of a disservice to the genre too.

It would be like saying every Call of Duty game is the same- nevermind, bad example. Regardless, all of these titles have something unique to offer, and I decided to try out as many as I could, so enjoy a fine selection of Vampire Survivors-likes:

20 Minutes Till Dawn

The first one that I played after Vampire Survivors was 20 Minutes Till Dawn, it switched the formula up by having you actually aim your projectiles, which makes the game immediately feel more engaging. The game does have a setting to make it automatic though, just in case you want the classic Vampire Survivors experience.

The first thing that grabbed my attention was the art style, anything besides the characters has a muted dark green color palette, which makes the world and the enemies look hostile, but also helps you with not getting lost in the screen. This mood is enhanced by the very faint soundtrack in the background, never intruding despite being always present.

20 Minutes Till Dawn thrives upon its character roster, with each character either having a passive or active skill unique to them that may or may not synergize with your weapon of choice.

The player only has access to one weapon per run, with the upgrades being either summons that help by attacking alongside the player or things like elemental damage, curses and increases to damage or fire rate.

The screen does get completely filled with projectiles despite the player only having one weapon, as the upgrades have pretty generous effects, it doesn’t take long to see what works with your weapon of choice.

The game does have some depth with its ammo system, as the player chooses when to fire and eventually has to reload their weapon, many upgrades play into it, either by giving the player a bigger clip, a chance to recover their ammo automatically under certain conditions or a smaller clip in exchange for more damage.

Players can also get different upgrades to their unique skill upon killing bosses as well, with some of them wildly changing how it works or just making it stronger.

This game’s permanent upgrades come in the form of a talent tree, which forces the player to make decisions rather than simply grinding to get everything, which I enjoy a lot.

20 Minutes Till Dawn does its best to enhance the formula and offer a different experience to players who want something more engaging; it is currently in Early Access but feels like a complete game that gets constantly updated rather than an unfinished product.

20 Minutes Till Dawn is available on Android and Microsoft Windows (Through Steam).

Spellbook Demonslayers

Spellbook Demonslayers is a game that quickly rose to the top of my list, due to the fantastic soundtrack, beautiful spritework and general quality-of-life that the game offers.

The game only has one character, so instead you choose a spellbook at the beginning of your run, each with two available passive skills, a set of bonuses and an active skill, which all greatly change how your run is going to play out.

One thing that I really enjoy are the illegal upgrades, which are these powers you can get after cleansing corrupted shrines; these upgrades allow the player to replace their lowest leveled skill with one offered by the shrine, meaning that a wrong upgrade choice doesn’t have to stick around until the end of your run, which greatly increases experimentation, since you can always exchange a skill you dislike for another one.

One complaint I do have with the game is how the upgrade screen is very visually busy, while it is nice to have all of these stats in plain view, it can also be quite jarring, it doesn’t help that when you get to some of those screens a sick Mongolian throat singing beat starts playing, which fully disoriented me the first time I heard it.

That said, the soundtrack is amazing; I don’t always pay attention to soundtracks in games, sometimes they are just there to serve as elevator music, but it’s really special when a game has excessively good songs in it, honestly, they did not have to go that hard. Even if you have no interest in games of this genre, go listen to the soundtrack for Spellbook Demonslayers.

This game also features permanent upgrades, ranging from extra lives to more damage, but the depth comes from the unbinding system, which allows the player to increase the level cap in their passive skills, alongside the mutations, which add different effects to existing passives, letting the player min-max their perfect build.

The game also has the “Malice” system, which allows players to completely customize their runs by making aspects of the game harder in exchange for more rewards.

Spellbook Demonslayers fully enhances the Vampire Survivors formula, and the tweaks added make it extremely accessible and customizable, if I had to recommend a single game of the genre to a person it would be this one, easily.

Spellbook Demonslayers is available on Microsoft Windows (Through Steam).


Brotato is the game with the most changes to the genre in this list, replacing the 20-30 minute survival in favor of time-based waves.

The waves start with roughly 20 seconds in length and eventually reach a minute each. The player can choose to run away and ensure their survival, or try to kill as many enemies as possible; running away isn’t incentivized because the player won’t have any money to buy weapons, but sometimes it may be the only choice you have, as enemies infinitely spawn during the waves and snowball players who can’t clear the map as easily.

The game fully embraces the ridiculousness of the genre, displaying the weapons in your character at all times, meaning that characters just walk around wielding 6 guns, which looks ridiculously funny.

The weapons all have keywords which decide their type, from precise weapons, like knives, to ethereal weapons, like the ghost axe. What this means for gameplay is that certain characters will have a natural proficiency with certain weapons, this also applies to passive upgrades, which may benefit all of your weapons or none at all.

The weapon upgrade system has you combining the same weapon multiple times to make it increase in rarity, which quickly turns into a game of inventory management as you only have 6 slots available, the system borders between fun and distressing, depending on how your run is currently going.

Visually the game immediately reminds me of the art style used in games like The Binding of Isaac, Castle Crashers and Super Meat Boy, the thick outlines and character designs are very reminiscent of Newgrounds-era flash games, which is very nostalgic to me.

Just like the games I mentioned above, Brotato is pretty hard, with seemingly no permanent upgrades to make runs go smoother, instead letting the player unlock different characters depending on certain achievements.

The game also seems to have a flourishing modding community, but seemingly no Steam Workshop available yet, so the game’s wiki currently hosts the mods.

Brotato is excessively fun but very hard, being the perfect game for players who mastered Vampire Survivors and are now looking for a challenge.

Blobfish provided us with a copy of Brotato, you can find additional information about Niche Gamer’s review/ethics policy here. Brotato is available on Microsoft Windows (Through Steam).


If you don’t know what Hololive is, there’s still time to run away, before you find yourself too deep in the Virtual YouTuber rabbit hole.

If you still want to know, Hololive is a virtual agency that employs talent to play a character while streaming, the streamers make use of a rigged avatar which follows their movements, and they are usually know for having very dedicated fanbases.

Such a fan eventually made Holocure, which is Hololive’s own Vampire Survivors fan game, featuring most of the group’s famous streamers.

Holocure plays the most like Vampire Survivors out of any game on this list, being pretty much a skin of the game for VTuber fans.

The player characters are all Hololive streamers and the enemies are their fans, which have been brainwashed and need to be cured through violence.

Holocure goes above and beyond when it comes to being faithful to its source material, staying true to the characters themes through their weapons and adapting a few jokes into items. The game is accessible to anyone who wants to pick it up, even people completely unfamiliar with Hololive, but those in the know will get more out of it from understanding the jokes and references.

The game’s permanent upgrades work just like in Vampire Survivors, with the player buying more health, damage, move speed and other stat increases in the upgrade shop. One of the upgrades is an active ability which differs from character to character, which changes the game up a bit.

The game has a gacha system for character unlocks, but it doesn’t allow players to spend real money in any sort of way, which really is commendable, as this game could easily be turned into a self-sustaining cash grab as Cover Corp. continues to announce more streamers. My only gripe with the system is how expensive it can be to get the character you want, especially when coins are shared between character unlocks and upgrades.

Holocure plays it very safe, meaning that anyone who liked Vampire Survivors is sure to like it too, with the bonus of featuring popular VTubers for those who enjoy them.

Holocure is available on Microsoft Windows (Through

Sexy Mystic Survivors

Look, I’m thorough in my research, when I said I was going to play every game, I meant it.

Sexy Mystic Survivors is the hentai addition to the genre, and it features your expected cast, an elf girl with big boobs, a knight with big boobs, a fox girl with big boobs, and a demon girl with small boobs- didn’t see that one coming, did you?

The game’s opening cutscene is drawn in a comic book style and happens to be fully voiced, just like the rest of the game, which enhances its presentation a lot.

The unspoken rule amongst hentai games is that they need to be excessively hard, but Sexy Mystic Survivors doesn’t go that far, it definitely isn’t an easy game, but the difficulty is on par with Vampire Survivors, which has a tough beginning.

Most weapons aren’t great until being fully upgraded, meaning that the first 10 minutes of your run are going to be very rough.

The game plays pretty much like Vampire Survivors, with the addition of aiming and an active skill to spice things up, which does help with making the experience more engaging.

Something that I noticed is that the developers cheekily added a one handed mode option in the settings menu, which I understand is a joke, but it makes me wonder, what type of person is jacking it to an isometric view of an open field crawling with spiders?

As your character takes damage they will lose bits of their clothing, with them popping up on screen and moaning as they slowly get undressed; I wasn’t aware of this and honestly it felt like a jumpscare the first time it happened, but it is a good way to implement the sexy aspects into actual gameplay, which a lot of other games struggle with.

The reward for surviving 30 minutes in a map is an animated hentai scene with the current controlled character, giving players an incentive to test most of the roster.

The art for the game is a bit of a mixed bag for me, on one hand I like the character portraits and the art in the opening, on the other hand the sexy scenes are a bit on the generic side when it comes to the art style.

The consensus between Steam reviews is that the gameplay is more fun than the x-rated content, and I have to agree, even though it feels weird to play a hentai game for the sick gameplay.

Sexy Mystic Survivors is completely fine at everything it does, and I do enjoy the character designs, for purely artistic reasons of course.

FantasizeGames provided us with a copy of Sexy Mystic Survivors, you can find additional information about Niche Gamer’s review/ethics policy here. Sexy Mystic Survivors is available on Microsoft Windows (Through Steam).

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Fan of skeletons, plays too many video games, MMO addict, soul-like and character action enthusiast.

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