V Rising is an excellent indie game, so much so that it’s hard to label it as such. The quality of the gameplay and technical aspects give the impression of a AAA title, making Stunlock Studios’ product even more impressive.

Recently out of early access, V Rising might initially seem like just another online action RPG. However, it takes only a few minutes to realize that you are dealing with a refined and ingenious product that combines the best (and worst) elements of RPG and survival genres into a magnificent game. Currently available for PC via Steam, it was also recently released on PlayStation 5 on June 11, 2024.

I Want To Go Back to the Coffin!

Set in a dark fantasy world where vampires were nearly exterminated long ago, the survivors face a hostile and dangerous reality where they can hardly ever relax and are constantly threatened by sunlight. Bandits, vampire hunters, animals, monsters, and mutants born from vampire blood fill this world, creating an environment that threatens our character’s life from the very beginning.

Much of V Rising draws obvious inspiration from the famous and award-winning Castlevania saga, both in appearance and settings. The ambients are vibrant and alive, yet always permeated by a subtle, persistent dark, foggy aura. As I mentioned before, dangers fill every corner of this world. Each creature on the map is meticulously crafted, from movements to animations to textures and sounds. The entire graphic section exudes quality and polishness, showing the developers’ almost obsessive dedication to creating their dark world. Have you forgotten it’s not a AAA title? It happened to me too. Special mention goes to the shadows, dynamic and realistic, crucial for one of the game’s main mechanics, which I will now discuss.

V Rising - Skill

Running from Shadow to Shadow

In V Rising, you play as a vampire, for better or worse. You must avoid not only garlic, which can apply a progressive debuff, but especially the Sun, your worst enemy. Exposure to sunlight causes increasing damage, capable of killing you in seconds. You can boost resistance to this effect, but the best defense is staying in the shade. The day/night cycle is generous, with night lasting much longer than day. However, this means you must plan your movements based on the Sun’s position and shadows, which lengthen at dawn and dusk. This is why I praised the excellent quality of the shadows in the game: understanding the system is easy, satisfying, and intuitive. It adds a nice level of difficulty without being oppressive and represents a nearly unique mechanic in the plethora of survival RPGs now ubiquitous on the market.

Speaking of survival… Soon, you will be overwhelmed with things to do and follow, including the essential construction of a castle that not only offers shelter from the relentless sunlight but also serves as a storage and travel base, as well as housing various workbenches and equipment upgrades. The abundance of information and projects might seem daunting, but a well-crafted tutorial guides players through the initial stages and helps navigate the vast content V Rising has in store. But it is in the combat system and boss fights that Stunlock Studios’ gem truly shines.


In this preview, I want to emphasize how refined V Rising’s combat system is. It feels like playing a simplified Diablo, but not of inferior quality! Casting abilities, spells, using consumables, and switching weapons are dynamic, quick, and functional. The feedback from hits on enemies is satisfying and brutal. The weapons are well differentiated, and various situations require switching from one to another during the same fight. Combat is both simple and complex: easy to grasp but challenging to master. You will experiment and mix spells, consumables, and abilities, and mastering the fights will require real ingenuity and time. The variety of attacks you can unleash is commendable, the combinations nearly infinite, positively impacting replayability.

Killing the numerous bosses is crucial for progress. Drinking their precious blood grants access to new skills or upgrades. Hats off to the creativity in the fights. Many will be memorable, and you will appreciate the successful attempt to make each boss unique and characterized. As for blood, you can draw it from almost any living creature. Different creatures provide different types of blood with specific bonuses. The higher the quality of the blood you drink, the greater the benefits. However, since you must use it to cast various abilities, you need to replenish your blood supply often and cannot keep high-quality blood for long. Again, a well-designed and fun system, albeit simple.

V Rising - Boss

Gather, Build, Improve, Repeat

V Rising does not feature a conventional progression system: your character’s level is tied to your equipment, making advancement and crafting vital. Some players might find the continuous gathering and upgrading discouraging. The vast world, divided into five different biomes, offers various resources and materials. The tools you can craft early in the game are ineffective for gathering many resources, limiting access to many areas and items. Nothing new for survival game veterans, and even the various base upgrades are not particularly unique, though they maintain a certain degree of identity.

Of course, you can always ask other players for help. Personally, I found the community very friendly and supportive, thanks to active and continuous server moderation. You are not forced to play online; you can start a single-player or private server with friends. However, this might make the world feel empty and stagnant, as many areas are deliberately left for players to place their castles in safe and suitable locations. The division between PvE and PvP servers is excellent. You won’t log in to find your castle door broken and your possessions stolen… unless you choose to take such risk.

V Rising is one of the Best Indies on the Market

It’s not an exaggeration or favoritism: V Rising promises a lot. Smooth development and attentive player feedback have allowed Stunlock Studios to create a respectable product with a bright future. With its recent release on Sony’s most recent console, the game has significantly expanded its reach. This gem has genuinely surprised me, and I must recommend it to all readers.

I’ve been a gamer, amateur writer and technophile since 2006. I personally prefer games that can offer a good challenge, and I’m a great enthusiast of retrogaming. I love to dissect every single backstory behind messages, development and secrets of videogames, which I consider proper work of arts.