Entropy Survivors seemed right up my alley when I got the key sent to me. I love survivor-likes, the semi-idle gameplay mixed in with just enough interaction for the game to keep your attention, and I love the "rogue-lite" nature of them too, where each run you are a little more powerful than before. That was what I was expecting, at least, but Entropy Survivors is a little different from the Vampire Survivor experience I was familiar with.

The core gameplay stays true to the survivor-like genre, defeating mass amounts of enemies for EXP to level up your character.

In Entropy Survivors, you have two weapons equipped, one of which is mapped to LT, and the other to RT. LT is mapped to a melee weapon, and RT to a ranged weapon. Using the ranged weapon, however, slows the character to a crawl, and while it can deal more damage, I found it preferable to pretty much exclusively upgrade and use the LT weapon, as it gives no movement penalty, and I found moving is essential to staying alive.

That was the main thing I found odd about Entropy Survivors, and perhaps my biggest gripe about it. You have to manually use your weapons. Almost my entire time playing was spent with my finger holding down LT, and I was just wondering, why? Why don't my weapons auto-fire like other games in the genre? With the constant influx of enemies, there's barely any time when you aren't being attacked and having to attack in turn. Personally, I would have preferred it if the LT melee attack was permanently firing, and pressing RT temporarily switched to a gun until you let go of RT.

As time progresses, more powerful enemies will appear, and you yourself will be stronger through leveling.

The upgrade system is a plus point for me. It's satisfying and there are plenty of upgrades to be had and spend your perk points and gold on. Your weapons, for example, can have perks applied to them, such as the ability to freeze enemies. Your character can also have perks attached. You can also upgrade your character's "skills" to gain more health, attack damage, critical hit chance, etc.

Then there are the mid-game weapon upgrades you expect from a survivor-like. These are additional attacks you can add to your weapons mid-game. Such as firing an orb out of your pistol to zap nearby enemies, spawning garbage trucks that run over enemies whenever you swing your sword, and an inter-dimensional being slapping enemies. These are the usual weapons you expect in a Sci-Fi shooter...

You also have a "class skill", which is a nice bonus feature, by default you are a "Paladin", where every 20 seconds you can temporarily surround yourself with a shield that damages enemies, and restores a small amount of health. But there are a few classes to choose from, each with positives and negatives.

The game has a "ping" system for multiplayer to send alerts to the other players.

The enemies are your standard affair. Most mindlessly walk towards you to melee you, some have ranged weapons, others can heal nearby enemies, and then there's the occasional boss that spawns periodically and often uses Area of Effect attacks, requiring you to dodge out of the way, one of the few occasions I feel like the dodge button included in the game is useful.

Entropy Survivors also offers a multiplayer experience for up to 4 players over the internet. We didn't get to test this mode ourselves, but the game does appear to have a "ping" system in place, allowing you to quickly communicate if you need help or to direct your friends to specific locations, such as a health pick-up. I feel like this could enhance the gameplay, especially if players coordinated their classes and chose load-outs that benefited one another.

Let's quickly go over how the Entropy Survivors demo performed on our Steam Deck, though, shall we?

How Does the Entropy Survivors Demo Run on the Deck?

Note: When booting the game for the first time, you will be guided through an Unreal Engine prerequisites installation. You will need to use the touchscreen to install it.

Entropy Survivors does support 16:10 resolutions and has good controller support. The menus are controlled via a cursor that can be moved with the left thumbstick, it's not ideal, but it works well enough.

Depending on the graphical settings you use and the TDP limit you set, you can get 40 FPS with some visual eye candy or 60 FPS if you want that smooth experience. Performance does drop a little when there are a lot of enemies and weapon effects on the screen, however.

Personally, I preferred to keep the quality settings low and aim for a 60 FPS experience. The foliage and shadows could sometimes make the game's screen even more busy than usual. Survivor-like games are usually pretty cluttered, but the extra visual detail can make it even more overwhelming.

We did have some issues with the performance in the game's menus and lobby however, with the FPS dropping into the 20's, the gameplay itself could run fine at 40 FPS with the same settings, so hopefully, this gets optimized for the final release.

Entropy Survivors has a demo available on Steam right now, so give it a try if you're interested. It performs just fine on the Steam Deck, and we're hoping that with some polish and tweaks, this will be another exciting entry into the Survivor-like genre.

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Oliver Stogden
Oliver began playing video games at an early age, starting with the SNES console and Commodore Amiga computer. Nowadays, his interest is in the future of portable technology, such as handheld gaming systems, portable power stations/banks, and portable monitors. And seeing just how far we can push these devices.
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