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This Vampire Survivors-like has catgirls, is brilliant, and costs nothing

How is this free?!

A frantic scene where a catgirl spits fire at enemies in HoloCure: Save The Fans.
Image credit: Rock Paper Shotgun/KayAnimate

I don't know anything about VTubers, aside from the fact they're virtual… YouTubers...? What I do know, is there's a Vampire Survivors-like called HoloCure: Save The Fans that's entirely fan made, entirely free, and revolves around Hololive, a VTuber agency replete with catgirls. I am taken aback by how good it is.

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Among many other things, Vampire Survivors squeezes so much out of its stages and items. There's a list of things to unlock and they're all yours if you're willing to experiment with cloves of garlic and magic wands for 30-minutes at a time. And if you stumble into a powerful union of cat and mask when you're not even trying, then even better! While your roster of characters and spending options expand, they never swell beyond the swarms of critters in their arenas. The game is singularly focused: everything's yours if you carve through those swarms of bats.

If Vampire Survivors is largely minimalistic, HoloCure is very much maximalist. On the surface, HoloCure operates in much the same way as last year's smash hit. You pick from a roster of cat girls who auto-attack at certain intervals. Your aim is to either beat a stage with a boss, or survive for as long as you can in an endless mode. Survival is dodging in and out of swarms of weird beasties while upgrading your beloved idol with fireballs that'll tank your frame rate. The more it tanks, the better it's going.

It's only after a couple of games where HoloCure's extras surface. There's a gacha system - entirely operated with in-game currency, might I add - where you can unlock new VTubers to survive with. The roster is massive! And, incredibly, each has their own special abilities and unlockables, like one of my faves Inugami Korone, whose flurry of punches can gradually transform into a near-constant stream of pain. Some of your abilities can hold stamps that augment the way they operate, like one which adds a stun chance, or my personal fave, one that lends each of my attacks a trumpet noise with no other discernible benefits.

Shopping for fishing rods in Holocure: Save The Fans.
Fending off enemies in an office arena in HoloCure: Save The Fans.
Choosing weapon and item upgrades in HoloCure: Save The Fans.
Image credit: Rock Paper Shotgun/KayAnimate

At one point during a run, I thought you couldn't combine laser blasts and explosions in HoloCure and that made me sad. No, of course I was wrong. A golden anvil dropped from the sky and I was able to combine my ricochet-ing potato with my buckets of lava, creating a meteor shower of potatoes that would set enemies alight. After that run, I unlocked new unlockable items for future runs, and discovered a shop where I could spend my money on increasing stats or more substantial enchantments or trinkets.

There's even a slight management sim side to the game, too. You've got HoloHome, a quaint village where your roster of anime cuties can hang out. You can fish and grow crops and I hired a little bomb dog who'll farm coins for me, although I need to feed him clownfish in return. Turns out you can not only invest your money for quick gains outside of battle, you can invest it at HoloHome to pay dividends over a longer period of time.

Sure, HoloCure is a much slower burn when it comes to fulfilling the power fantasy, and the interplay of its many menus and investment pots might be a bit much for some. But there's no denying the pull there is to making your catgal as powerful as she can be, and the polish there is, in watching her demolish swarms of riceball monsters. All of it, remarkably, free-to-play. Free-to-play! I don't think I'll ever get over it. If your curiosity has been piqued, then you can give it a look over on itch or Steam.

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