Vampire of the Sands – What We Think:
Rogue-like games may appear a niche product to the unanointed, but they can be highly addictive even to gamers who don’t typically explore the genre. Vampire of the Sands is an action-heavy dungeon crawl that can bring new players into this subset of gaming. However, while the game manages to capture the feel of bygone days, it also fails to deliver on some aspects.
The first thing that might strike you about Vampire of the Sands are its visuals. Developers Homph opted for a retro feeling that dates all the way back to the NES, with a game that looks like a Zelda adventure set entirely in the desert.
But while going for a retro feeling with hampered visuals is a great way for small indie developers to get their game done, should the end result be judged against new games or old games using the same visual effects?
What usually comes as the diviner in these cases is the level of gameplay the game offers. With Vampire of the Sands, it is more of a NES game even in terms of gameplay and how the game feels than a modern game that uses old school graphics. It doesn’t reinvent the wheel, but there is a (very) challenging adventure for retro fans looking to lean into that nostalgia.
A Feast of Beasts
It’s easy to get rolling in Vampire of the Sands, and the control scheme feels natural. You have a number of bosses to defeat, though you choose the order in which you will try to conquer them. During your engagement with the sand dungeons at your disposal, you will encounter a wide variety of enemies and gather weapons and other equipment to help you on your journey.
One of the strongest elements of Vampire of the Sands is the variation of enemy design. In spite of the marketing copy’s claim that “each [of the enemies fight] with their own separate personalities,” almost all of them attack in the same way and are killed in the same way. But they DO look very different from one another – in your travels, you will have the opportunity to kill flying books, fire spirits and huge ants.
There are also a number of ways to play through the game, depending on your personal preference. You could either try or kill all bosses in one run, which means you don’t die, or you can just enjoy killing one and then going for the next one once you die. If your preference is to kill them all in one run before being satisfied, you will have a long, long game before you.
Vampire of the Sands also could appeal to both a hardcore audience and a more casual one, since you are offered two difficulty settings: you either play the regular one where you have one life and it is game over after the first hit, or you play with three lives that can be generated by certain items. This I did find refreshing, and an option I’d like to see more often in these kinds of games.
Fangs for the Memories
If you are a fan of Rogue-like games and love how games played and looked with the NES, this is a homage to that era you should really get your hands on. While there is nothing particularly ground-breaking to be found in this retro-themed adventure, the variety of difficulty settings help to make the game accessible to a broader audience.
Vampire of the Sands is a well-made, curious title that may get lost in a world filled with so many trying to do something similar.
Vampire of the Sands is available via Steam.
Watch the trailer for Vampire of the Sands below: