Vampire Survivors Contra DLC showcases one of gaming’s best values ​​yet still has plenty of life left in it.

Since coming to the Switch late last summer, Vampire Survivors has been my go-to game. Sure, there are other run-based indies like Balatro and Dead Cells, Tears of the Kingdom and Super Mario Bros. All-inclusive triple-A titles like Wonder and retro compilations like Sonic Origins and TMNT: The Cowabunga Collection share that title, but when I have to pass the time on a plane, I always know that no game does it as effectively as Vampire Survivors. Logically, I know each run should last 30 minutes, but for some reason it never feels that way. And because of that, I look down for what feels like 20 minutes and when I look up, 2 hours have passed.

I travel a lot, so I play Vampire Survivors regularly. Yet, every time I turn on the game, developer Poncal has sneaked more into it. New characters, new maps, new ways to customize your experience – I’m constantly surprised and delighted by the extra features and content the developer has added since I started the game. Sure, Poncle regularly puts out free updates, sometimes even surprising ones, like last week, but these paid pieces of DLC — costing $2.50 or less each — are tentpole content releases. The latest, Operation Guns, delivers the same Vampire Survivors fun we know with a different Contra flavor, both expectedly and unexpectedly, with Konami’s legendary Contra IP.

Operation Guns adds a significant amount of Contra content to Vampire Survivors. On top of 11 new characters, 11 original weapons, and 11 weapon evolutions, Operation Guns Neo Galuga brings an enormous Contra-themed map that continues almost in lockstep with how the original Contra (and its latest remake, Operation Galuga) proceeded. You start out blasting, slashing, zapping, whipping, and otherwise destroying humans and robots, but as you move further into the map, more sinister threats show that this isn’t some standard land-based battle. Alien eggs, structures and enemies slowly join the fray, increasing the number of robotic opponents. Similar to what happens in the original, the alien and cyborg presence eventually takes over the battle, giving Poncal plenty of room to play with Contra’s license.

Before I knew it, I went from blasting infantry into enemies on jetbikes to waves of flying metal aliens and snake cyborgs. I loved repeating the same process of leveling up my character and their weapons, but with a myriad of fun quests scattered across the Neo Galuga map. Along the way, I uncovered some fun contra-themed power-ups — like homing missiles — that allowed me to further combat the alien horde.

However, the biggest surprise came at the end of my first successful run in Neo Galuga, as a ticker appeared at the bottom of the screen, telling me that something big was happening in a certain corner of the map. I only had a few minutes to get there, and with thick waves of enemies blocking my path, I was worried I wouldn’t get there in time. However, once I did, I was greeted by one of the coolest things I’ve ever seen Ponkle do with Vampire Survivors. I won’t spoil it beyond saying it’s a unique encounter that pays homage to an iconic fight with one of the recurring enemies of the Contra series.

Although I’ve only done a few runs, I’m steadily unlocking new characters and weapons. Most of the new content is clear on how to unlock the next character, which is helpful for unlocking additional weapons. You unlock Bill within the Neo Galuga map, then unlock Lance by evolving Bill’s Long Gun, and so on. All of this is in service of giving the player a clear path to experience all that Operation Guns has to offer with as little friction as possible. Add a bonus level on top, and the Operation Guns DLC is worth checking out for all fans of Vampire Survivors, regardless of your Contra fandom.

As I always say, the craziest part about all of this is the sheer value of Vampire Survivors. Although the game is often sold, it never comes true requirements that; Even if you buy the game and all its DLC at full price, you’re spending less than $15. It works great on Switch, where I play it, but it’s reviewed for the Steam deck, which hammers home that it’s the ultimate Planes game. Although Poncal continues to release free updates a year and a half after its initial Steam release, these major tentpole releases leave me excited for the future of Vampire Survivors.

Does the future hold more crossover content? We’ve already received collaborations with Among Us and Contra, but words can’t describe how excited I am for crossovers with even more major properties like Final Fantasy or Resident Evil; Imagine slashing your way through hordes of demons in Janarkand as Lightning before a boss battle against Sephiroth, or exploring Raccoon City as Chris Redfield, taking down low-level zombies before Nemesis spawns on the map. The Operation Guns DLC also has my imagination with some less obvious crossovers like Street Fighter; Many such characters have such iconic moves. Starting with Ryu throwing the Hadoken before evolving to the Shinku Hadoken is a natural progression that can be applied to several characters in the series. And since Vampire Survivors features music and remixes from the Contra series, this crossover is even more appealing to the imagination.

This article is not about speculation or creating a wish list. But that’s what inspired Vampire Survivors’ latest DLC. It shows that Poncal is more than capable of giving these IPs the care they deserve, staying true to the Vampire Survivors formula that made me fall in love with the game in the first place. Vampire Survivors: Operation Guns DLC is out now on all platforms except PlayStation (that version will arrive later this summer when the main game hits the platform) and costs just $2.50.

For more on why Vampire Survivors is worth your time, check out our review of the base game right here.

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

Scroll to Top