I personally didn’t enjoy the game loop this Bullet Heaven game has, but I applaud it for doing things differently then others in this genre. It has no missable achievements and a lot of fun ones. 100% will take around 10h.
Approximate amount of time to 100%: 10h
Estimated achievement difficulty: 7/10
Minimum number of playthroughs needed: 1
Is there a good guide available: I made this guide
Multiplayer achievements: No
Missable achievements: No
Grinding Achievements: Can be, because you can lose your progression
DLC-Only achievements: No
Speedrun achievements: No
Time-gated achievements: No
Does difficulty affect achievements: No difficulty setting
Unobtainable/glitched achievements: No
This review was hard for me to write. I’m a huge fan of Bullet Heaven games and I applaud when devs try to add/change things a bit so it is not exactly the same game as Vampire Survivor. And Whispike Survivors does things differently for sure. However, the game loop isn’t fun for me personally.
Okay, let me explain some of the differences and why I don’t like those things. In Whispike Survivors you play as a plant that will earn experience from killing enemies and with those you choose new skills from 3 options you get offered. When you die you’ll get a seed, which you can plant on your farm. When it grows it will have some of the skills you had in that previous run with it, but not everything will be transferred to the new seed. It takes a few in-game days to grow, which you can progress by doing new runs with other seeds or paying Manura (the in-game currency) to speed up the progress. Another aspect of the game is that if you plant seeds next to each other, they may get skills from the seed next to them. When you managed to survive long enough on a map (For example 5 minutes on the first map) you’ll meet the necromancer who will kill you and steal that seed. That means that the meta progression you made with that specific seed is gone and hopefully you had a seed that has almost all of the same skills by planting it next to this seed. As a reward for staying alive long enough, you’ll unlock a new map, with enemies that are more difficult, and with a longer timer.
In theory, this sounds like a fun idea. However, the reward for surviving that long doesn’t feel like a reward, but a punishment. Yes you unlock a new map, and yes you get an achievement for doing so, but you probably also lost your best seed, aka some of the progress you made to be able to get there. So most of the time it might be more interesting to get killed before the timer runs out, just to keep at least some of the progress. When you plant your seed, you’ll lose skill levels. It is very doable to get 7-10 levels in a run on the first few maps, but after that, you just need too much experience to level up, and you mostly need upgrades from the chests to really progress. And those chests won’t give that to you easily… it adds a slot machine game where you always get a reward but not always the reward you’re hoping for. When you totally fail on a slot machine you get Manura, so you can grow your plants faster. When you have at least 2 of the same symbols you get experience. And when you have the same result in all 3 rows you get a level in that skill. I suck at those slot machines so I got at a point I wasn’t really progressing further with my skills. Only getting around 9/10 levels on a run before dying, but also losing those when planting the seed, and this doesn’t even factor in when you have a bad run and don’t even make those 9/10 levels, then you lose a significant part of your progression.
Another thing Whispike Survivors does differently is that experience will expire, which challenges you to play a more risky playstyle to get to the experience, but with such a punishment system behind it and “meta-progression” that you can lose, it can snowball in two ways, or you’re progressing, or you failed and snowball downwards and lose progression. Oh, and a few skills (aka attributes0 you will definitely need are the damage upgrade and the run speed upgrade, otherwise you move not fast enough to avoid the later enemies and you’ll not do enough damage to easily kill them.
I stopped playing at the third map, just because it didn’t feel like I made any progress and the idea of losing a lot of it if I would make it to the end of the timer didn’t help to really want to push forward. I think if it was only the risk/reward play with expiring experience or if you kept the skills on your seed for sure, then it would be more fun. Keep in mind this came from someone who did suck at those slot machines, your experience might be totally different if you don’t mind the slot machines in the chests or if you want a more challenging Bullet Heaven type of game. I can see this game appealing more to the people who like roguelikes than roguelites (aka games without meta-progression).
The achievement list is a nice one, it has no missable achievements. Most of them are easy to unlock and you don’t have to be good at the game. the last few will be a challenge because you need to have 10 skills at level 10 and you have to beat all the maps. I like the variation the achievements have and that they also make you do weird stuff, like letting a plant die on your farm but just before that transferring some of the skills to another seed.
This review for Whispire Survivors was written on 23 July 2023, based on the current Steam version of the game which has 24 achievements at the time of writing this review. This information can be outdated, for example, when the developer adds or removes achievements or releases (new) DLC.