River Survivors

A vampire survivors clone with a small, unfortunate hero

You are a small worm being used as bait for fishing, but you've had enough!
These fish don't stand a chance against a multitude of powerups at your disposal.
They fire automatically, so just try to stay away from unfriendly river creatures.
But always keep your buoyancy meter in check, or you'll float to the top - or worse - to your watery grave!


Arrow keys to move / select upgrades, X and C (by default) to select something and restart

WHEW… that was a foto finish…
There were sooo many things I wish I would've had the time to do…

  • Music
  • Particles
  • Squash/Stretch animations for the fishies
  • A BUNCH of playtesting and balancing (really, I have no idea if it is humanly possible to get through all the waves)
  • Unlockables
  • A minimap
  • Making the river less empty

BUT… all in all… I'm… pretty happy with what I achieved. When playtesting I did get that satisfying VS feeling, and I guess that is all I can ask for at this stage :D

If you liked this game, PLEASE bother me to work on a post-jam version - I would love to build more things in, but I know myself and if I don't stick to it, it won't come to pass.

EDIT: Had to fix a bug that stopped passive powerups from working
EDIT2: Fixed some balancing issues that made it it impossible to reach certain times

Voting results


This game entered in the Solo competition (10 entries).

Comments (17)

 • 1 year ago • 

Cool game! I really enjoyed it!

 • 1 year ago • 

This is soo addictive! 😆
Really fun but the spawn rate at first is what killed me 🤣

Best wave: 9

 • 1 year ago • 

Nice! I havent played Vampire Suvivors but I found your version very entertaining and challenging.
I also liked the different upgrades and the color palette!
And of course pico-8 ftw!

 • 1 year ago • 

Very nice! I really like the idea of the worm on the hook. It's a funny concept. The gameplay doesn't get repetitive. Thanks to the great number in different, gameplay-changing abilities offered in this game, it feels captivating and adictive.

All in all, it can be said that this game really has me on the hook ;)

 • 1 year ago • 

A nice spin on Vampire Survivors, being attached to the end of a fishing line really adds something unique to it.
I couldn't quite figure out how to 'keep the buoyancy meter in check' and after a while ended up floating to the surface a lot.
Enemies are varied and keep things interesting, and the selection of upgrades is nice, though as you say some of them require a little balancing - I found myself needing a particular sequence of early ones before I could go very far at all.
The cycle of learning and repeating is satisfying and keeps me coming back.

 • 1 year ago • 

Nice work! never made it past wave 8, so I guess I'm not particularly good at Vampire Survivors type games :)

  • 1 year ago • 

Thanks for the feedback guys!
@FlipBit WAVE 8 or level 8 ? :D
Because that is a huge difference: waves spawn every minute, and I think I never made it to wave 7 myself… While the level is your player level, so how many upgrades you picked :)
But level 8 is also not bad at all!

 • 1 year ago • 

This is great! You are really pushing the pico-8 specs to the limit with the amount of entities :D
I really like these kinds of games. I love to find the cheesiest possible strat. I think I did. These kinds of games are hard for the designers. The balancing is so hard to get right in a weekend.
Nice sprite art, everything is clear and easy to recognise.

 • 1 year ago • 

I'm vaguely aware of this genre but have never played, so I can't compare to the big names, and will just assume everything here is 100% original :D. I'm impressed with the number of enemies onscreen without much noticeable slowdown, and that you worked out a way to combine this kind of game with the theme. Easy to learn, difficult to master (unless you're @M2tias apparently), this is a really solid entry

 • 1 year ago • 

It's a neat take on the survivors genre with some extra flavour. I liked that the xp pickups moved left and eventually off-screen so it was easy to miss a lot of them. My first run I really sucked because I didn't realize I have to pick up anything (my eyes ignored the green xp pickups since the fish were roughly the same colour) and I ended up having hundreds of fish on the screen with the lowest tier bubbles. At that point the game was running at 5FPS which made the experience rather difficult. My second run was a much better experience though!

  • 1 year ago • 

Thanks for the feedback guys!

@bradur That is a very fair point, I should have made the first xp powerups a different color! And of course, when I tested, I knew what to do and that's why it didn't really come to there being so many fish on screen that I noticed a slowdown. I will look into it though and see whether I can do some improvements here and there so we don't drop into such low frames :)

@M2tias haha yes, that's the fun of it! What strategy did you run with in the end?

 • 1 year ago • 

@Cuddl3s I just max out algae asap and then bubbles while taking some fin speed. Then I don't know what is the best but fin speed is pretty necessary. I thought I had the game beat but I think I made some mistakes on positioning :(

 • 1 year ago • 

Great job! Huge Vampire Survivor fan here and this is a perfect take on the genre, especially for the gamejam.
The mechanics are well balanced and fell quite nice. I also enjoyed the pixel art.

  • 1 year ago • 

@M2tias ok 11 minutes is crazy good for this version of the game :D
I feel like the spike at ~6 minutes is what kills most people, as the eel and eel bosses kill you so fast.
So you have my utmost respect!

Thank you @Laguna, that's very nice of you :)

 • 1 year ago • 

Neat idea having the worm on a hook; you can really feel it strain at the edges of the map :) I'm afraid I'm not very good at this type of game, so I survived for about 2 minutes or so.

 • 1 year ago • 

Of course I had the play the another Pico-8 game :-)

I don't think I've much to add to the above (I didn't really notice the bouancy meter at all really). The origin point of the fish-line seemed to move, I think? You could swim easily to certain areas that where harder the next moment it seemed.

Some details: I played once with the bubble-powerup, which killed me not long after. The algea power-up is very powerful in the beginning! For my first few upgrades I had just 4 algea and made it to level 11 (roughly four minutes in) when I couldn't escape from a big eel.

 • 1 year ago • 

A fun game to play and a perfect fit for Pico-8, it has a pretty impressive amount of contents with a good variety of skills to discover, of enemies and spawn patterns… Plenty of surprises to discover throughout the run.

The balancing was reasonably good on my run. My build started with a bubble attack which took me a moment to practice, by the time I got used to it and upgraded it to level 2 the sea floor had enough food to make me gain 3/4 powerups at a time, all spent on upgrading a devastating algae attack that basically let me clear the map :,-) I managed to stay alive just long enough to try the tail attack too.

Not sure how buoyancy worked exactly but I don't feel like it affected my game much.

This is the closest I've played to a Vampire Survivor, which I've resisted playing for now :D

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