Review: V Rising promises plenty and delivers basically all of it

v rising

Vampire jokes and puns aside, V Rising is a game that plays with your notions of what an action game should be by injecting elements from other genres in what’s otherwise a very decent point and click Diablo-like. And while the end result in something that I wouldn’t exactly call a favorite, it’s easy to see why it was such a hit during its Early Access phase on Steam.

Developed by Swedish developer Stunlock Studios, now part of Tencent, V Rising is basically a Vampire-themed isometric action game that has you live the life of a bloodsucker in a world that has rid itself of your kind and has since lived a period of relative peace, though not for long. Waking up as a weak member of Dracula’s family, not only will you have to deal with the threat of humans nearly every step of your journey, but also with your inherent weakness as a creature of the night.

V Rising does a very decent job at enforcing the traditional vampire weakness of sunlight as it forces you to stick to the shade during daytime. You only have a limited amount of time out under its rays before you start turning into smoke, but thankfully the game’s initial area is a forest with plenty of shade for you to seek refuge under while you figure out how to make a living.

And that is pretty much the entire focus of the game: finding out a way to not only survive the many dangers around you, but securing your place among the most powerful beings and paving the way for vampires in a world that has basically done away with them. This is a particular sticking point with me, though, as someone who doesn’t really enjoy survival games as a whole, and V Rising quickly turns into one as you are tasked with farming materials and creating new equipment, but also all manner of structures.

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Does this shade of gray go well with my flannel shirt? Come on, be honest…

Thankfully, Stunlock didn’t try to hide that V Rising isn’t merely another Diablo-like but something more akin to a Don’t Starve, where the whole object is trying to survive all the while constantly evolving your resources and trying to come out on top. I wouldn’t necessarily call it a resource management game, though, as its needs aren’t nearly as intense as Klei’s game. But it’s still something you have to keep in mind if you hope to get through the game.

Skills wise, V Rising also makes good use of its vampiric theme but offering some of its more known powers that have been go-tos for centuries in entertainment media, such as fast, blink-and-you-miss-it movement, exceptional strength, and of course, sucking the lifeforce of the living beings, regardless of them trying to do harm to you or not. Cleverly, the game deals with blood in a very creative manner, making it a currency of sorts that is invested into your character’s development tree and by continuously banking on it, you get stronger as the game progresses.

That is something that permeates all throughout V Rising, along the path that you take with structures as well, since some of the starting ones that you’ll be guided to build when at the beginning all run with it being their fuel. Then there are the wide arrange of powers and other more permanent stat buffs, which along with your level help turn your initially scrawny self into a more respectable powerhouse.

At the outset though, you are pretty much something to be laughed at by just about any moving thing you come across in the forest and it’s not until you craft some decent gear for yourself and find a spot to call your own where you’ll start developing your dark den of evil that things start to get fun in V Rising. Or as enjoyable as it’ll get within the confines that it establishes for itself. 

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No gallows will stop me! I’m a big bad vampire! Bwaaa!

The grind that’s built-in to the survival monniker is ever present in this game and if you’re already into that kind of game, you’ll certainly find plenty to enjoy here, and if you happen to be into Diablo, hell, there’s also a lot of that too. And I’ll have to admit that the premise of having more goals than simply killing X boss or reaching a certain level did appeal to me at the start, getting into yet another hamster wheel of a game, at least now, isn’t something I’m after.

For what it does, though, it’s hard to deny that V Rising is a very appealing realization of what a mix of some of gaming’s most addictive genres can result in. A number-focused gear fest with a constantly more demanding resource hog is a brilliant idea if you are a developer looking to make your game with a way longer lifespan that hinges on player involvement, and all signs point to V Rising continuing to be one of Steam’s most popular games for good reason.

Stunlock Studios has smartly made V Rising into an addicting gaming loop that makes a good case for providing an experience that potentially has no end if you aren’t looking for one. This is one of those games that can be played daily for a few moments regularly for months, and if I was looking to engage with a game in that way, I would surely be content with V Rising as it does it all right. For now, though, I appreciate it for what it is and know that there are folks out there that will eat it up.      

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