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Perhaps the last thing you’d expect from Deep Rock Galactic developer Ghost Ship games is a Vampire Survivors-style spin-off. But Deep Rock Galactic: Survivor, at the devs’ own admission, is precisely that.
That does not mean that Deep Rock Galactic: Survivor is a straight clone of Italian creator Poncle’s work, however. Whereas Vampire Survivors excels at being a flashy, dopamine-inducing monster slaying loop, Deep Rock Galactic: Survivor is slower paced, with players able to terraform its underground maps to great strategic effect.
Will Deep Rock Galactic: Survivor share the high replayability and wealth of unlockable content as its inspiration? That’s hard to say, however, I did find that the average run of Survivor offers more depth, and challenge, than many of its peers in the subgenre.
We need to go deeper
In Deep Rock Galactic: Survivor, set in the same universe as its parent game, you’ll play as a dwarf tasked with descending through five floors of alien-infested mines. The levels are also rich in minerals, which you’re incentivized to dig through to obtain materials to unlock permanent upgrades for future runs.
Things start off easily enough, but it won’t be long before the levels are teeming with threats looking to put you in an early grave. You’ll be starting with just a single gun that fires automatically, allowing you to focus on exploring the map for resources and ticking off smaller objectives.
What’s clever, though, is finding the right balance between mining resources (which takes time and halts your movement) and killing enough enemies to level up. The latter will enable you to unlock an arsenal of weapons and upgrades for extra firepower, which you will need to stave off the ever-increasing hordes which then, in turn, allows you to mine more successfully and efficiently.
You’ll need to kill a specified amount on each floor, too, which then prompts your dropship to take off to the next section. And yes, you’ll need to reach said dropship lest it leave you behind after about half a minute, ending the run prematurely.
What I particularly liked about Deep Rock Galactic: Survivor is your ability to carve your own path through levels. You can mine resources but also use your pickaxe to forge paths through walls. By doing so, you can create chokepoints for enemy hordes, or open up a quick escape route if you need a bit more space. This is especially cool because it means that sheer firepower alone isn’t necessarily going to be enough; in my time with the game, I had to be extra aware of the space around me and be conscious to find time in between firefights to make sure I was able to make a clean getaway to the dropship when it arrived.
I came away from Deep Rock Galactic: Survivor thinking it will be a notable addition to the autofire subgenre of survivor titles, along with stalwarts like Vampire Survivors and 20 Minutes Till Dawn. Whether the larger Deep Rock Galactic community vibes with this spin-off remains to be seen, as this new game lacks its signature co-op. However, it seems like there’s plenty of depth and strategy here that will resonate with fans of the first-person shooter.