vampire survivors is a very simple gothic roguelike that snuck into Steam Early Access in late 2021. Earlier this year it had started to explodeand the game that allows your Since then, “be the bullet hell” has racked up more than 100,000 positive reviews. She now she has a spiritual brother named 20 minutes until dawn which asks the most important question: what if vampire survivors did he have weapons? The answer is that it would be another Steam hit.
Although not as big as vampire survivors, 20 minutes until dawn it managed to build on the success of the former thanks to small but significant tweaks to its core formula. Both games are about maneuvering around a 2D map trying to survive a horde of enemies while negotiating a constant stream of random upgrade offsets. But where does he fight at vampire survivors it is 99% automated, 20 minutes until dawn It works like a full-fledged twin-stick shooter with limited bullets in the chamber and regular reload animations.
Created in just a few months by solo developer Flanne and released in June, it’s based on horror, but trades 8-bit-style pixel art for lo-fi anime vibes. Its difficulty curve is also steeper. You move slower while shooting, reloading takes time, and instead of a hitpoint meter, your life is represented by just a few inconspicuous heart icons (with veins and regular pulsing). In this case, more challenge equals more agency, and where vampire survivors can occasionally feel like an auto fighter, 20 minutes until dawn requires more constant vigilance, especially at the beginning of each new run.
Initially you are taking down swarms of creatures that look like Cthulhu babies and demon trees. Later Serpentine Gargoyles join the mix, as well as mini-boss encounters that require you to change your tactics. Collecting the runes they leave behind allows you to level up and get upgrades like magical ice daggers, baby dragons, and of course more bullets and longer ranges for your weapons (runes are also spent outside of each run on permanent upgrades and unlockables). Enemies take longer to kill at first and sometimes 20 minutes until dawn may feel slightly rougher around the edges than the gentle dopamine drip vampire survivorsbut the increased sense of control over my character and each run keeps me coming back.
the hell-as meta progression it’s still the most fun, and the level ups come early and often. There are also a variety of additional characters and starting pistols to unlock offering even more room for experimentation. As the name suggests, you’re trying to survive against a clock counting down from 20 minutes (vampire survivors lasts until minute 30). There’s even a 10-minute compressed mode where you can experience the entire cycle of horde survival in half the time.
It’s common for certain sub-genres of games to do very well on Steam. Even so, 20 minutes until dawn‘s The meteoric rise is noteworthy. chris zukowski reported on the whole minicycle on his blogshowing how he made all the right moves to capitalize on a path cleared by vampire survivors. However, he is quick to point out that it only worked because 20 minutes until dawn is a fun game that offers its own clever twist on the formula. Flanne had been working on a tribute to final fantasy tactics I call Spirit Link Tactics for five years when he pivoted, and now he’s devoting all his time to continuing to update his surprise hit.
To update 0.7.4 just arrived on July 30, adding a new character named Luna who can use black holes to control enemy crowds. Like her Early Access inspiration, she feels like 20 minutes until dawn it’s only going to keep getting better.