Lamp And Vamp Is The Best Free Game

It’s a bold claim, I know, particularly when the opposition on the ‘Best Free Game’ field includes the likes of Planetside 2, Dwarf Fortress and Dungeon Keeper. Nevertheless, Lamp And Vamp is the best free game that I’ve played today and the best new free game that I’ve played since Tuesday. Created as part of the Procedural Death Jam, and taking first place, it’s a puzzle game in which you play a vampire who is trying to return to his coffin. Pesky townspeople and priests block the way but using your powers (BAT-FORM, MIST-FORM, BLOODSUCKING), you can navigate the streets and find your way home. It’s absolutely splendid.

The light-dodging mechanic reminds me of splendid mobile game Helsing’s Fire but the rest is pure Hoplite. Have you played Hoplite yet? It’s only available on cleverphones and tablets but it’s one of my favourite games of the year so far. A deceptively simple single screen roguelike puzzler, I’ve had it consume a full charge of my phone battery several times. Lamp And Vamp isn’t quite as good as Hoplite, which encourages a more aggressive approach with its three distinct abilities, but it’s a fantastic game. And it’s free.

On the frontpage of the Procedural Death Jam, the organisers have this to say:

The theme is “Procedural Death Labyrinth,” a new way of describing games like FTL, Spelunky, Coin Crypt, The Binding of Isaac, etc, that’s less awkward than “Rogue-Like-LIKE” or “Rogue-LITE.”

Just to spite them, I’m going to refer to Lamp And Vamp as a Hoplite-LITE.


  1. Sian says:

    How is Procedural Death Labyrinth less awkward to say than RogueLite? o.O

    • SillyWizard says:

      Presumably it’s less awkward because it causes fewer riots.

    • SuddenSight says:

      Pedantic folks like myself prefer the phrase over references to a decades old game without graphics that often has less in common with modem “roguelikes” than a classical music CD. And heaven forbid we call them roguelike-like (repetitive to the point os self-parody) or rogue-LITE (since when do games go on diets?).

      In other news I would like to see “metroidvania” replaced with “powerup based progression.”

      And yes, I have manilla folders for hands in real life.

      • Philotic Symmetrist says:

        Or perhaps “power-up based exploration”? Just trying to more clearly evoke the backtracking element of Metroidlikes*.

        *Curiously, Metroidvania originally referred specifically to the Castlevania games in the Metroid style not any game in the Metroid or Castlevania-Metroid style.

    • Junon says:

      The same way ‘first-person shooter’ is less awkward than ‘Doom-clone’

      edit: put the hyphen in the wrong spot. The first person-shooter was probably not a FPS at all.

      • Kitsunin says:

        This comparison just made me realize we can call them PDLs. Suddenly it’s so much less awkward to say!

        Okay, I’m finally onboard, I think…

    • MaXimillion says:

      Because roguelite sounds and looks very similar to roguelike, which can be a source of confusion.

      • Philotic Symmetrist says:

        Roguelite also sounds like a simplified and/ or easier Roguelike, except that a game like that is most likely still actually a Roguelike. I was always a fan of the term Roguelike-like (and its mascot, the Rogue Like-like), mostly ’cause it’s a bit silly and I never found the reduplication to be awkward in any way.

        On a related note, I have decided to rejoin my fellow pedants in defending a stricter definition of Roguelike. I still think there is potential for the conditions of turn-based and tile-based to be relaxed (this would also actually be in keeping with the Berlin Interpretation) but I don’t think there is any game yet which would warrant this (FTL is probably closest since its real-time nature is a bit of an illusion, FTL plays more like a turn-based game than a conventional real-time game). I suspect relaxing the tile-based condition would be less controversial (and I’d really like to see this tried) but I don’t think anyone’s done that yet.

        Also, this may be slightly unprovoked (I haven’t seen it mentioned on this page at least but it is one of the examples on the article about PDLs) but Rogue Legacy is neither a Roguelike, Roguelike-like or PDL as it does not have permadeath in any way, shape or form. It’s a great game (I played through to NG+4 or +5) but you lose less progress upon death than you do in Dark Souls; you lose almost exactly the same amount of progress from dying in Rogue Legacy as you do from resting at a bonfire and levelling up in Dark Souls.

  2. Koozer says:

    Please for the love of god someone tell me where I can find out about the good Android games. I only found Hoplite and Out There due to RPS, and that was after fruitless searching for good mobile game sites.

    • The white guar says:

      ^This. Oh, this. *sob*

    • SillyWizard says:

      I’m in the same boat as you, Koozer.

      I’ve also played Knights of Pen and Paper, which is okay but I wouldn’t really recommend it.

      There’s a free game called Adventure Company which is sort of neat, but doesn’t have a lot of replayability unless you’re really in to topping your own high-scores (which the game doesn’t keep track of for you).

      1,000,000 was fun while it lasted. Which wasn’t long.

      Pixel Dungeon is a free, pretty robust roguelike, but I haven’t really been able to get in to it too much. There’s kind of a lot going on there, and it’s been a bit overwhelming for me whenever I’ve sat down with it.

      I also hear good things about RetroArch (an everything-emulator), but I have yet to get a rom to work with it. Probably user-error.

      • ironman Tetsuo says:

        When I first started playing Pixel Dungeon it was pretty bare and easy to learn, the content updates where gradual over time so I was never swamped. I hadn’t thought about how new players like yourself could be overwhelmed approaching the game now. What did you have trouble with, maybe I can help?

        • SillyWizard says:

          There’s nothing in particular that I’ve had trouble with. It’s mostly that difficulty seems to ramp up pretty suddenly on level 2 or 3, and there’s not really much room for the trial-and-error of figuring out which runes/potions do what.

          (I usually don’t start fiddling with those things until I’m desperate, and when you’re desperate and the mystery rune you cast turns out to be a Sigil of Player-Fuckery…well, you see my problem.)

      • slothwerks says:

        One of the first ever mentions I’ve seen for Adventuring Company! I’m currently working on a new version which should add a lot of replayability. It plays similarly, but I plan to have multiple episodes (with different enemies and scenarios), as wells as some unlockable heroes/abilities that help add to the depth. I did a 7DRL version for the new Adventuring Company, although it doesn’t yet have the additional episodes mentioned above. I’m hoping to release a playable version for the web in the near future, and use feedback from that to help drive an Android version. You can try the new version (very much a work in progress) here: link to

        The Android version mentioned above is here link to

        Be sure to follow me on Twitter @slothwerks if you’re interested in following development.

        • SillyWizard says:

          Hey, neat! I do keep finding myself coming back to AC. There’s something compelling about the core mechanics that I really enjoy.

          For your updated version, it would be nice to have leaderboards that let you know how your latest run compares to how other people are faring.

          And…as far as I can tell, the most effective strategy is to dump all your life/armor upgrades on the mage, and your damage upgrades on the barbarian. Having some more meat on the ol’ bones could really open things up for interesting combos for some of the other characters.

          I keep finding myself wishing that I could level up class abilities. Give the cleric more of a boost of 1 hp/attack, maybe turn the rogue into a guaranteed 1-hit-killer, etc.

          Anyway, I’m looking forward to seeing what you do with the game. I’ve quite enjoyed it so far!

        • SillyWizard says:

          I’ve been playing some Tales of the AC since your comment. (Thanks for the link!)

          I’m enjoying what you’re doing, here. Is there a way to increase turns? In my first couple of runs I suppose I’ve been doing it wrong — killing every enemy I find. I suppose the point is to try and find that key to the next level asap and hope that you can rescue all characters before running out of turns.


          Interested to see how it develops!

          • slothwerks says:

            Thanks for trying it out!

            Currently no, there isn’t any way to increase the number of turns (although there may be some way in the future). I’m considering in-game bonuses (eg: kill all the monsters in a group for +5 turns) or perhaps passive unlockables (gain +5 turns to start out). Future episodes may allow more turns as well (eg: a deeper dungeon may allow 200 turns) Currently, there’s not really much incentive to kill monsters beyond finding the one that has the key.

            The main reason for turns is because I felt like the game lacked any sense of urgency without them. Killing individual monsters isn’t particularly difficult, and so I felt the game would be too trivial without turns. One other reason is that while I really liked the exploration mechanic in Dungelot (from which AC borrows), I wanted to add a little bit more depth to it. Without some kind of turn limiting mechanic, there’s no reason not to explore the entire map, which defeats the point of having turns in the first place.

            One thing I wanted to do for the 7DRL competition but didn’t get around to was some sort of quest reward if you did kill an entire monster group. Maybe that reward could include extra turns. The original AC had a similar turn limiting mechanic with gold, although I found a lot of people were confused about why exploring cost gold, and how the tavern worked. Instead of trying to abstract it out, I just called it ‘turns’ because I feel it’s more intuitive that way.

    • ironman Tetsuo says:

      Try Pixel Dungeon, it’s free and obviously a labour of love. It gets regular updates too with more content to tempt you back once you think you’ve had your fill! I couldn’t recommend it any higher.

      Also, for various reasons…
      Ridiculous Fishing
      Star Wars Pinball
      Elder Sign: Omens
      Might and Magic: Clash of heroes
      Super Stickman Golf 2
      Puzzle and Dragons
      Super Hexagon
      Total War Battles
      Game Dev Story
      Punch Quest
      and Radiant HD

    • Frank says:

      Yeah, I scoured the internet for such a site a while back, too. I really like…

      Princess Nuriko, a prettified Nurikabe (tile-coloring) puzzler
      Alberi, a unique (I think) tile-marking puzzler, cloned also as Parks
      Einstein’s Logic, a maybe not unique logic puzzler, but very well done
      and, of course, Hoplite, which is the easily my favorite game of the last year

      Among the mildly recommended…

      HyperRogue … you know, a fast RogueLite
      Phone Story — all Molleindustria games are worth playing
      The few Reiner Knizia games — all of which are also on iDevices (Shogun Hex is the unofficial Samurai clone)
      Devil’s Attorney — a comedy sequencer/puzzle/adventure thing
      ChuChu Rocket — which actually runs very well on my phone, despite being a Dreamcast game\
      Fortress Finder — for Minecraft!
      Pixel Twist and Slice It! — if you’re looking for hyper-casual games

      Beyond that, all the good stuff is also on PC: Rebuild, Triple Town, 3D Logic.

    • Ninja Foodstuff says:

      Pocket Tactics is the RPS of mobile.

    • KDR_11k says:

      I just point at Trese Brothers games most of the time.

    • slothwerks says:

      It’s not Android specific, but I usually find a lot of games via Touch Arcade. More and more developers are targeting Android in addition to iOS.

      A couple I enjoy:

      Dungeon Raid
      Block Legend
      Pixel Dungeon

    • Cockie says:

      For finding android games I usually rely on androidpolice or droidgamers – it ain’t RPS, but it works good enough with some filtering.
      Anyway, some stuff I like:
      -Beat Hazard (music schmup)
      -Dynamite Jack (stealth with bombs)
      -Mini Dash (super meat boy-like platformer)
      -Paper Monsters (platformer)
      -Shufflepuck Cantina (airhockey game with very nice graphics, although it gets a bit repetitive after time)
      -Solar 2 (physics sandbox)
      -Splice (puzzle game)
      -Star Command (spaceship simulator, haven’t played much of it yet though)
      -Swordigo (platformer-RPG with Zelda-ish elements)
      -Tiny Thief (stealth point&click)
      -Worms 2: Armageddon (like every worms game)
      -Swords & Sworcery EP (point&click)
      -ClayJam (a claymation game that looks absolutely gorgeous)

      • iucounu says:

        Star Command isn’t very good, unfortunately. It’s the textbook example of a Kickstarter pitch (Kairosoft Star Trek!) that had me flinging money at my monitor, but which turned out to be a rather boring and run-of-the-mill game.

    • KillahMate says:

      The Humble Android Bundles regularly package up some brilliant Android games.

    • dfuse says:

      Same story here, I played Elder Signs quite a lot, beautiful art. The luck factor is sometimes a bit frustrating but there is surprising amount of thinking needed to win against the more difficult elder gods.
      Threes of course.
      Pumped Bmx if you are into biking.
      Escape is a nice little game for a few seconds here and there.
      Deep Dungeons of Doom is also really nice, great art imo.

  3. MeatMan says:

    Curiously, the browser tab on the game’s webpage says Vamp and Lamp. I guess they had a hard time deciding which word should be first.

  4. Ninja Foodstuff says:

    Dead Space is currently free on Origin, are you saying this is better than Dead Space (disclaimer: I did not particularly enjoy dead space).

  5. Darth Jimmi says:

    How is Dungeon Keeper free?
    Unless you’re talking about the horror of a mobile game EA did with the name. Poor Bullfrog, getting their most cherished saga utterly massacred by EA.

    • Volcanu says:

      Actually it was free on GOG recently, courtesy of EA themselves believe it or not (DK1 & DK2). So that could be what he’s referring to….