Vampire of the Sands Review: Prepare to Die
Vampire of the Sands, by Black Shell Media, is a simple dungeon crawler at first sight. After dying 10 times within the first 30 seconds, I found out this game is far from simple.
No tutorial, limited health/time system, roguelike elements, and a skill system, new players are in for a challenge. Even after your first moments with the game, there is a much deeper game than you may realize. Vampire of the Sands excels at providing a real challenge to players. Depending on how you look at it, this is either good or bad.
My first experience with being killed by an ant
I'm fairly good at video games, not the best, but I'd say above average. This game showed me no mercy. I went along thinking, "Oh look, an ant, I'll kill it". Turns out, the ant had the same idea. I was shocked at how fast I died and immediately knew what kind of game I was playing.
From the moment you feel your first death, Vampire of the Sands practically dares you to try and try again. Some players will take that dare and I feel this is huge plus in the game and the genre. This game takes another step forward by offering a mix of action-adventure, roguelike, strategy, and even puzzle elements.
The one issue I have with the game is how intimidating and disorienting it all is at first without a tutorial. As soon as I looked at the controls, I knew I would have a hard time. You also can't look at controls while playing, so you must remember everything. There are still controls that I forget to use while playing.
I would have also liked more from the story section. All it says is, "Resurrected, memoryless. Assassinate him. Retrieve your soul." It does lend to the nature of the game to have you figure out what to do, but I really enjoy a good back story.
This is forgiven after playing awhile and getting better. You really feel accomplished as you progress. You just want to keep going after every death to get a little further each time.
Another feature that makes this game so addictive is that the items you start with, layout of the dungeons, and enemies you face are all random. The bosses and types of enemies in each area are not random.
My favorite part of the game is the fact that every enemy in Vampire of the Sands has its own style and attacks, so you must study each enemy if you hope to make it far.
The good thing is that there is an arena where you can fight enemies you have seen in the normal game for practice. You can use this to fight a single type of enemy and learn everything about them.
The bad thing is that I feel like some enemies can't be killed on the higher rounds of arena. One enemy, Hopoo, for example, throws money at you almost nonstop. I would have no idea how to kill a group of them with only the random starting equipment in arena mode.
This is only a side mode from the real game, but I feel as if there was an oversight in the arena that completionists won't be happy about.
Souls, Areas, and Runes
The Souls system cranks the intensity of this game up even more. Besides everything trying to kill you, you have a soul counter. As you progress through the dungeons, you become hungry for souls. If the counter reaches 0, its game over. You can replenish this by collecting the blue souls, which are rare. You also get several for killing bosses and opening the chest they leave behind.
Overall I like the idea, but there is nothing more annoying than making it far in a dungeon and losing just because you ran out of souls.
Another thing that elevates this game is the variety of dungeons available. Each dungeon has a different theme and enemies to learn. Based on my experience, the default desert dungeon was the easiest. This makes the game a lot more complex and detailed.
You can go to any of the dungeons and leave at any time so you can collect things and use them for another dungeon.
The rune skill system is cool, but going along with the nature of figuring the game out on your own, I haven't been able to unlock any.
Daily dungeons provide even more challenge and competition for the game. You only get one chance, if you die it's gone. This is the same for all players so it has a leaderboard.
Definitely try this game
Fans of the genre and newcomers alike will enjoy this game. Vampire of the Sands is very challenging with plenty of secrets to find out just from playing. The initial difficulty and lack of story/tutorial can lead some people away.
There are some things I mentioned earlier that could use some work, but overall I had fun playing this game. You can pick up Vampire of the Sands on Steam.