To some people, I would describe 20 Minutes Till Dawn as "like Vampire Survivors but you actually aim and attack." To others, I might say it's "similar to Crimsonland or Nation Red." Either way, it's a top-down survival shoot 'em up about blasting through Lovecraftian horrors using your trusty gun, levelling up to get magical perks and powers, and yes, grabbing a load of XP gems. A free demo is out now, and I'm enjoying it.
In 20 Minutes Till Dawn, you'll have 20 minutes (10 minutes in the demo, which is cleverly named 10 Minutes Till Dawn) to survive a growing horde of eldritch beasties emerging from the pixellated dark woods. Tendrils, pustules, eyeballs, you know the sort. Grab your gun, pick your character, and go. So you run around, clicking on monsters to shoot them in their amorphous faces, then grab the XP gems which spill out of their guts.
Grab enough gems and you level up, being offered the choice of one of five random upgrades. Maybe you'll buff your gun with damage, ricochets, and post-mortem scattershots. Maybe you'll build into elemental damage buffs and spray ice, fire, and lightning. Maybe you'll go tanky. Maybe you'll summon ethereal weapons and ghost friends to fight for you. Upgrades come in clusters, with some tasty powerful boosts unlocked at the end of each wee tree. Then these dovetail with the unique abilities of each character, and the strengths of each weapon, and... here, this video smooshes a few of my runs together:
Good fun, that. The second-to-second violence requires just enough thought, with constant little decisions with the pauses between shots on these revolvers and crossbows and such, ammo capacity and reloading, effects which trigger on select shots, and especially the way you slow while shooting. Plus obviously I like seeing runs grow into daft particle-spewing murder machines.
I'm looking forward to the full version. Along with double the time to survive, it's due to have more weapons, more characters, and new features including 'Synergy Upgrades' which will offer mighty murderbonuses if you have combinations of specific perks.
20 Minutes Till Dawn is coming to Steam when it's ready. For now, you can play the shorter 10 Minutes Till Dawn demo version for free from Steam and Itch.io. Various demos have been out for a while, but it got a hefty update a few days ago.
If you enjoy games which are kinda like Vampire Survivors, do check out Gunlocked, a scrolling space shoot 'em up with VS-y upgrades and XP gems galore.