V Rising Review

Whether it’s in film, literature, or gaming, there’s no denying that vampires are pretty cool. From Bram Stoker’s Dracula to Stephen King’s Salem’s Lot, they’ve cemented their place as some of the most infamous creatures in the horror genre – and for good reason. 

 V Rising from Stunlock Studios is a gothic action survival game where you take the reigns of a newly awakened vampire with the goal of becoming the greatest vampire of them all. I’ve been pretty enamoured with survival games lately, and as a game that combined survival elements with action, V Rising appealed to me almost immediately.

 

Vampire Rising

After a fairly decent character creation mechanic, where you can make your vampire as horrific or relatively normal-looking as you like, V Rising begins with said vampire waking up after centuries of slumber. They are weak, hungry, and lack the majority of the typical powers you’d expect a vampire to have, but that doesn’t mean they’ll stay that way.

An informative tutorial walks you through the basics of survival and crafting, but after that, you’re on your own, and time is ticking. Dawn is steadily approaching, and as we all know, vampires and sunlight do not mix.

 

Build Your Castle

Building a base is essential if you want to survive in the world of Vardoran, and I have to say, I loved building my own gothic castle. I’ll admit it, as a solo player, it was a bit of a slog gathering all the resources to make my base, especially when I had to skulk around to avoid the sunlight. If you are playing by yourself, I recommend increasing the yield you get from resources when you set up your server. This will make things easier and reduce the amount of to-ing and fro-ing.

I’ve got a long way to go, but the throne room is slowly shaping up.

 

With your castle in place, you’ll be able to craft machines, along with better tools, armour, and weapons. You’ll also have a place to hide from the sun. I just wish there was the option to wait to pass the time so you don’t have to go through the whole day-night cycle every time. You can sleep in a coffin, but that serves more as a way to keep you safe when you go AFK or log out. You can slip into your coffin to wait out the sun, but for some reason, you can’t view the time when you do this, so there’s no way to tell how much time has passed until you hop out.

 

Grow Your Strength

As fun as building your own castle is, you’re not going to want to brood in there the entire time. No, you’re going to want to go out and live your best vampire life. There are villages out there that need pillaging, after all. That’s where V Rising differs from the majority of survival games I’ve played. It definitely implements survival elements throughout, especially environmental ones, because the sun is unforgiving, but I felt more like the hunter than the hunted, which was fun. Combat is a joy rather than a chore, and I felt powerful, even when I was at my weakest.

And you do start out weak.

With no weapons, armour, and only the most basic of vampiric abilities at your disposal, you really do have to start from scratch. Luckily, you wake up in a crypt, so there are plenty of bones lying around that you can use to make yourself a basic sword and jump into V Rising’s fast-pace, hack and slash action.

With a number of skills and abilities at your disposal, combat is simple but enjoyable.

 

From there, it’s all about growing your strength. Since you don’t level up in the traditional sense, your strength is measured primarily through the level of your equipment. As you progress through the game, you’ll unlock new production methods for crafting better tools and equipment. Some of these production methods take a while, though, so you might find yourself twiddling your thumbs as you wait for your iron to finish smelting.

 

Crush Your Foes

From wild beasts to ghouls and militia, there are plenty of enemies out there, but the ones of most interest are those who carry V Blood. These enemies are generally more formidable than the rest and have their own unique skills and abilities. Some are the sort of bosses you’d expect – vampire hunters, generals, and the like – whilst others are much more mundane. I certainly hadn’t expected to face off against a fisherman or tailor. As with the rest of the V Blood carriers, they have their unique fighting styles. The fisherman, for example, will hit you with fish, whilst the tailor will just run away and summon guards.

Beware Beatrice the Tailor – the most fearsome foe of all.

 

Defeating these V Blood carriers is rewarding because they allow you to unlock new recipes, spells, and vampire powers. The first carrier we’re introduced to is Alpha the White Wolf, and defeating him gives you the ability to shapeshift into a wolf.

There are a lot of spells and abilities to unlock, but there are also a number of weaknesses to consider. Garlic exposure inflicts a damage-sustaining debuff, prolonged silver exposure causes damage, and a lack of blood will cause you to slowly lose health. The most notable weakness, however, is the sun, purely because of how quickly it can kill you. You don’t burst into flames immediately, and there are potions and accessories that can increase your sun resistance, but a few seconds of exposure will be enough to kill you.

My most frequent cause of death right here.

 

Gather Your Followers

What is a vampire lord without masses of minions to control? One of the most useful vampiric abilities that you’ll unlock is the ability to charm a human. After reducing their health a sufficient amount, you can attempt to charm a targeted human. It can be a little tricky to pull off if there are multiple enemies around because the spell isn’t instant, and you’ll be open to attack whilst you’re channeling it, but if you’re successful, you’ll have a mindless thrall at your command.

If you can keep them alive long enough to lead them back to your castle, you’ll have two options: You can either place them in a servant coffin to turn them into obedient followers that can be commanded to gather resources and the like, or you can simply imprison them as a source of blood.

Better equipment improves their chances of a successful hunt.

Final Thoughts

Despite a bit of a grind at the beginning of the game and the fact that crafting and production take a long time, I had a lot of fun with V Rising. From castle-building to growing my vampiric powers, it had everything I wanted from a vampire game. The world of Vardoran is vast, atmospheric, and frankly a joy to explore. Vampire abilities and weaknesses were both implemented well, so much so that even scurrying from tree to tree to avoid the sun was enjoyable as it added to the game’s immersion.

Striking a good balance of variation and simplicity, the gameplay is fun and easy to get to grips with, and controller support is well implemented. For me, V Rising ticks a lot of boxes, so I hope the developers will continue to support and update the game to keep it from getting stale. For now, though, I’m just happy to keep living my best vampire life and trying to convince my friends to pick up the game and join me in my conquest.

Developer: Stunlock Studios

Publisher: Level Infinite

Platforms: PS5, PC

Release Date: 8th May 2024 (PC), 11th June 2024 (PS5)

*After a successful period of early access on Steam, V Rising is now available on PC and PS5.

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