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Best Hybrid RPG
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Vampire Survivors is incredibly hard to describe. It is a roguelike shoot-em-up with heavy role-playing elements, but that doesn’t really say much. The premise is simple: The player needs to survive for 30 minutes while being constantly attacked by enemies. They start out very weak but gain more experience and abilities by defeating monsters. That is where the fun begins. Some abilities synchronize with certain weapons and evolve them into more powerful versions.
Then the real magic happens. The screen fills up with weapon effects while the character moves through a firework display of damage. Some refer to the game as a reverse bullet hell, but instead of dodging attacks it’s the player who fills up the screen with flashy animations and damage numbers. Eventually, enemies will disappear from the screen faster than more can spawn in, making Vampire Survivors the ultimate power fantasy.
Citizen Sleeper is a definite hybrid experience, which is a perfect match for its themes of intersectionality and hyper-capitalist exploitation. Its interlocking mechanics combine the textual density and meaningful choices of a spectacular visual novel with RPG character advancement and survival-sim-style wellness management. Together, these elements tell a branching story of survival as an illegal inhabitant on a space station that has seen better days. The central dice mechanic is simple to understand, but a devastating metaphor for the demands of poverty. Success often depends on making tradeoffs, whether morally or by closing the door on other opportunities. In spite of the weighty subject matter, a sense of hope shines through the grit and missed medications, offering moments of awe, togetherness, and sci-fi transcendence as counterweights to despair.
by Erik van Asselt and Zach Welhouse