With Redfall now just days away, some of us may be pining for more vampires in our lives. What better moment to look back at some of the best games about be-fanged monsters of myth and legend? Below, you’ll find an assortment of titles, some in which you play the vampire, some in which you fight against them, and though we consider these among the greatest video games about the vampire and their sanguine lineage ever made, they are arranged in no particular order.
Vampire: The Masquerade: Bloodlines
There have been a lot of VtM games over the years, but Vampire: The Masquerade – Bloodlines is perhaps the most well-known. Some might not even put it as the best VtM game ever made, but a legion of devoted fans have made it a beloved, accidental classic and certainly one of the best vampire games ever made. Created in the Source Engine, Vampire the Masquerade – Bloodlines was a rough and angular game at launch, but it was also ahead of its time in many ways. The game blended the action of a first-person shooter with the sprawling choices of a large-scale RPG, the result of which is actually kind of an immersive sim, albeit an unintentional one. A dedicated community of modders has kept the game alive ever since, sanding down its rough edges with patches they’ve made themselves and even creating their own custom content. Its influence today extends far beyond its meagre reach at launch, informing many similar games that would follow in its footsteps. A must-play for video game historians.
Dontnod’s Vampyr was somewhat maligned on launch, a cinematic RPG about a newly-turned vampire hiding in plain sight. It’s 1918 and you play as Dr. Jonathan Reid, a man racing to create a cure for the flu that is ravaging London. Hampering your progress is your newfound taste for blood, a hunger that demands Reid feed on the very patients he’s sworn an oath to protect. Vampyr is a game that lives in the grand tradition of the cult classic, one that found its audience through platforms like Game Pass and PlayStation Plus. Though many critics weren’t feeling its vibe at the time of its release, many more have come to appreciate its moral quandaries and excellent storytelling.
A game borne out of the surprise success of low-fi survival games like Valheim, V Rising is a survival game about building a marauding vampire community in places where human beings would prefer you weren’t. All the rules of vampire survival apply — stay out of the sunlight and feeding on blood regularly, to name just two — but the game’s real pleasure comes from bombing around with your friends, having a nibble on the locals, and building a dirty great castle in their backyards. A unique take on the genre that inverts many of its more well-worn tropes, making it an effortless pick
Legacy of Kain: Soul Reaver
No list of games about vampires would be complete without talking about Legacy of Kain. Despite the long period between drinks for the series, its impact on the games industry can still be felt to this day. Few had the impact, or the enduring love, of Soul Reaver. This third-person action-adventure game went on to inform and influence the genre for years to come. You play as Raziel, a disfigured vampire raised by Kain himself to terrorise the land of Nosgoth. By the time you meet Raziel, Kain’s overthrow of Nosgoth is complete: humanity is in ruins and vampires rule the earth, now consumed by their own territorial bickering and politicking. Betrayed by Kain and thrown away, Raziel is resurrected again by The Elder God, becoming his instrument and going on a quest to kill his betrayer. Another one for the video game historians, Soul Reaver was created by Crystal Dynamics in the years before they took over the Tomb Raider franchise. Now a part of Embracer Group, fans wait to hear what will happen with the Kain IP and if Raziel will ever return.
Castlevania: Symphony of the Night
“What is a man? A miserable little pile of secrets.” There are so many Castlevania games that deserve to be on this list, but Symphony of the Night gets the gong because of its enduring popularity. Konami’s beloved series of tough, side-scrolling exploration games have always had a special place in the hearts of retro gamers around the world, but Symphony of the Night, originally released on the PS1, is a perennial favourite. Though I, personally, am more of a Castlevania 1 fan myself, I can’t deny the impact of SotN. Every Castlevania game since has, in some way, tried to recreate its successes. SotN takes after the sprawling Castlevania 2, sending players on a giant, tangled hunt through a malicious world to stop Dracula and his magical, teleporting castle. Without a doubt, one of the best vampire video games ever made.
Buffy the Vampire Slayer: Chaos Bleeds
I bet you didn’t expect to see this one on the list, did you? Buffy the Vampire Slayer on the original Xbox was a surprise hit in its day, but this sequel (which appeared on PS2 and Gamecube as well) was a vast improvement in every way. Strong combat, writing that reflected the sardonic tone of the popular TV show, and allowed players to control multiple characters from the show. The game is a part of the Buffy canon and is officially set during the show’s fifth season. In addition to a lengthy single player campaign, it also contains multiple couch-play multiplayer modes, like PvP fighting and a horde-style mode called Slayer Challenge. Stating this for the record: if anyone ever wanted to remake Buffy the Vampire Slayer: Chaos Bleeds, I would buy the shit out of it, but given creator Joss Whedon’s shitty behaviour souring everything he’s ever touched, I can’t see it ever happening. Though it is one of the best vampire video games of the 2000’s, I fear it is destined to be forgotten.
My own personal Game of the Year for 2022, Vampire Survivors, is pure bastardry. Deceptively simple and only slightly less addictive than heroin, Vampire Survivors is a great example of less-is-more design. Deploying the visual style of NES era Castlevania, this is a game about surviving horde after horde of the undead and using the blue gems they drop to upgrade your character with ever-more powerful abilities. I have lost what must be hundreds of hours to this game, and you can too. One of the best vampire video games ever made, and it’s only $6 on Steam. Hard to find a better deal than that.
The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim – Dawnguard
Let’s round this list out with a couple of DLC honourable mentions. Skyrim‘s Dawnguard expansion is a community favourite. The Elder Scrolls tell of an eclipse and helpfully provide instructions on performing a related ritual using a special bow and a blood sacrifice. The Volkihar Clan, an army of vampires led by Lord Harkon, are keen to give it a go — and they’re recruiting. The Dawnguard, Skyrim’s counter-faction of swarthy vampire hunters, stand in their way — and they’re recruiting too. It’s up to you to decide which faction you want to help and how you’ll live with the consequences of either decision.
The Witcher 3’s Blood & Wine Expansion
Blood & Wine (an expansion big enough to be its own game) contains one of The Witcher 3′s best stories, all focused on vampires. Geralt of Rivia is invited to Toussaint by its Duchess Anna Henrietta to take on a contract — two of her knights have been killed under mysterious circumstances, and Anna Henrietta wants the killer found. Though Geralt is able to quickly ascertain the identity of the killer, it puts him back in contact with Regis, an old friend and higher vampire. As Geralt and Regis untangle the mystery of what drove the killer to commit such disturbing acts, he begins to piece together a trail that lead him back to Toussaint’s own corridors of power.
It’s frickin’ brilliant. Play it.
That’s our list of the best vampire video games ever made! Did we miss any you think should have been on the list? Let us know!