Vampire of the Sands – Review
Follow Genre: Dungeon-crawler with roguelike elements
Developer: Homph
Publisher: Black Shell Media
Platforms: PC
Tested on: PC

Vampire of the Sands – Review

Site Score
Good: Soundtrack and graphics go great together
Bad: Very high difficulty level, unfair at times
User Score
(2 votes)
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Rating: 7.0/10 (2 votes cast)

Black Shell Media wasn’t joking when they advertised Vampire of the Sands as a “punishing dungeon-crawler”. For a small game with a nostalgic old-school art style and a simple but stunning background track, it sure knows how to deal out punches and get under your skin. The permadeath system and ‘YOU DIED’ screens make this one of the more hardcore indie games that we have played in a while.


Vampire of the Sands’ story is not an in-depth one. You play as a vampire who has lost his memories, and is trying to regain them by killing monsters. On your way through various randomly generated dungeons, you encounter over a 100 different types of enemies, all of whom have different AI patterns. Your motivation to move through these dungeons is that this is how you collect “souls”, which is what you need to do in order to stay alive. Running out of souls equals sudden death.

It’s obvious that the storyline of Vampire of the Sands came secondary to its gameplay, keeping the purpose of the game vague. Seeing as the game does focus on its gameplay however, it would be unfair to dismiss Vampire of the Sands based on its story alone.



The game has charming old-school style graphics, which was definitely the right choice for this type of game. Each level has a different aesthetic style, making the game graphically more attractive than your typical indie dungeon crawler. The starting area is a desert wasteland filled with only cacti and monsters, but the combination of these graphics and the soundtrack just works; and is exactly what gives Vampire of the Sands its unique and charming character. Not only is each area unique in graphical style, different levels also contain different monsters. Combat animations are relatively simple, but effective, as is expected from a game that largely uses one-hit one-kill combat.



Each level in the game has its own music, and the soundtrack is stunning. Seemingly simple, it really does set the tone for the game and gives it its own character. The music accompanying the desert wasteland in the opening sequence of the game seems to have been inspired by Old Mexico, and again, it just works. Vampire of the Sands really manages to distinguish itself through the synergy between its graphics and soundtrack.
The game isn’t voiced, communication occurs through text on the screen. The little sound occurring each time you slay an enemy is simple but satisfying.



Vampire of the Sands is an action dungeon crawler with roguelike elements. This game is difficult. As you’re exploring dungeons, you will have to open doors to move to the next room, and will often encounter enemies you stand no chance against. Your character does not have a health-bar, instead the game operates on a one-hit one-kill principle. Combined with the permadeath system, this can cause a lot of frustration. Even the above average gamer will probably encounter more ‘YOU DIED’ screens, reminiscent of Dark Souls (Dark Souls’ slogan ‘prepare to die’ would work just as well for Vampire of the Sands actually), than they would like. The controls do not make this any easier, as they seem to be quite clunky. Perhaps added controller support would have been a solution here.

All of this does cause the game to offer a sense of excitement; managing to dodge enemy attacks and dance around incoming projectiles feels thrilling. The feeling you get after making it through a difficult area is what keeps you coming back to this game: it is simply enjoyable to try to beat it. The game throws challenges at you and depending on what type of gamer you are, you might love to try and beat these or you might get frustrated and rage-quit ten minutes into the first level. Unique game mechanisms such as the different AI patterns for different monsters, and the rune system keep the game interesting. There are over 50 situational-use items to be found, such as a speed cloak that allows the player to move faster when equipped, making sure gameplay does not get boring. Our feelings about Vampire of the Sands’ gameplay are mixed: it has some great and refreshing qualities that we miss in some other indie games, but sometimes the game can be unfair in its difficulty level.



Vampire of the Sands is a charming, but challenging and punishing, indie game that focuses on gameplay rather than storyline. If you enjoy a challenge and games with roguelike elements such as permadeath and randomly generated tile-based dungeons, you might enjoy this game! If you’re easily frustrated however, it might be a good idea to pass up on this one!

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Rating: 7.0/10 (2 votes cast)
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Rating: +1 (from 1 vote)
Vampire of the Sands - Review, 7.0 out of 10 based on 2 ratings

I'm a 24 year old gamer with a passion for RPG's, and the gaming community as a whole. When I'm not gaming, I can be found cooking, reading, or with my partner and pets. Currently on: PS3, PS4, Xbox 360, PC and 3DS.

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