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Preview – Voltaire: The Vegan Vampire [Demo] PC

Life sure is difficult for a vegan vampire. I know that from watching Count Duckula as a kid of course! But it’s surely even harder when daddy Dracula sends his hordes of monsters to destroy all of your crops in a show of disapproval for your bloodless new-age hippy lifestyle. Fortunately your two-headed uncle(s) have a few tricks up their sleeves for you. Offering up their home and sizable garden, they teach little Voltaire how to send a message of his own by clawing his way through the never-ending onslaught of nasties and growing a volley of plants that not only provide delicious healthy veggies but can also defend themselves, not unlike the now-classic Plants Vs. Zombies, what with weaponised flora fending off the undead. It’s an engaging mix of genres – action roguelite combat-y goodness blended with farming and survival mechanics based around a real-time strategy tower defence core. Work all day (it’s one of those ‘sparkles in sunlight’ deals I guess) scavenging supplies and building up your deadly lawn, then spend the night powered up protecting your plot by shredding any ghouls that dare approach.

The main survival element is that everything costs energy, whether you’re harvesting or tilling the land or even building other structures to provide a steady stream of supplies such as wells for a daily income of water. And energy comes from food, which can be grown and found. This means you have to manage your expenditure and plan ahead, especially as the more nutritious snacks take several day cycles to drop. It’s a neat little puzzle to balance your needs of sustenance against security, and farming in games is somehow always satisfying. On the other hand, my biggest gripe has to do with gathering the resources you need to actually get any of this going. Floating around shaking trees and kicking rocks hoping for them to drop consumables and assets is awfully tedious but is an absolute necessity during every day phase. The map is large, the character is not particularly fast outside of the teleport dash that naturally has a cooldown, and there’s just so many places to search that it quickly becomes an irritating chore. Not only is it dull on its own but the pace of the switch between rummaging for goods versus action screeches to a painful crawl as there’s no countdown before the next wave, like so many other games like it.

I’m hoping it felt like that simply because, as is the nature of a demo, I was playing an incomplete version. Heck, I was also looping through the same weekly rotation over again and facing the same boss but I have no doubt there’ll be plenty more enemy types and big bads to deal with, which I suppose is already confirmed with the screenshots on the Steam page. On top of that they also tease different locations and characters which begs the question on how progression works, since the demo doesn’t seem to have an ending. Does the full game require us to reach certain waves to unlock new challenges, or is it level based? Are the character and base upgrades permanent or do they only affect that single stage? For the generously lengthy taste I got, there’s still so many questions to answer! If you really dig the look of it, it is already available in Early Access, but I like to wait for full releases personally, in order to get the full experience. More than anything, however, I’m eyeing up the ‘co-op’ tag it boasts, because I can totally see myself popping this one up on the Steam Deck with the girlfriend and fighting for our right to part… ake in a life of veganism. It’ll no doubt be a blast to work together planning our approach, what to plant, and divvying up enemy routes to secure. Even more so if the roguelike character level-up options are plentiful and diverse enough to really allow players to get creative and differentiate themselves! I suppose we’ll just have to wait and see.