Since Vampire Survivors has become one of the most popular games in recent gaming history (much like Resident Evil and Dark Souls), it was bound to spur countless clones. Now entering the ring is Funday Game’s take on the auto-shooter, survivor-like, which is a whole heap of fun! I have a confession to make, I’ve never played Deep Rock Galactic … I know. I’m deeply sorry, especially since I’ve played their latest spin-off. I was able to get my hands on an early access version of the game which you can buy right now, and I have to say this is some of the most fun I’ve had so far in 2024!

What is Deep Rock Galactic Survivor

Deep Rock Galactic is all about mining, dwarfs, and deep progression, with the added inclusion of teamwork to overcome harsh environments and dangers. Much of this formula has been transferred rather successfully into an auto-shooter design, minus the co-op aspect, as this is a lone-survivor kind of deal. Where players will dive deep down into the planet Hoxxes, to mine for precious minerals, and to destroy the legion of hostile alien forms who want to fest on dwarf meat!

Instead of first person, Survivor is a top-down venture where players will embark on missions to mine out those shiny stones, and to take on the mega alien at the core of the hive. You will scavenge, and fight waves of endless enemies, all the while equipping gear and weapons that fire automatically for you, as you do your best to strive off damage and make it back home for sandwiches and beer.

For those who’ve played Vampire Survivors, you know the deal, but anyone who hasn’t will pick up the gameplay mechanics and gel right away with the vibes. It’s on everyone’s cup of tea and those who didn’t like Vampire Survivors, might not appreciate Deep Rock Galactic Survivor much more. However, I found Funday’s auto-shooter to have a stronger core gameplay loop overall but does need a few extras to match the level of peak insanity and its inspiring counterpart.

Heigh-Ho Heigh-Ho, it’s off to mine precious resources for corrupt capitalism we go!

Deep Rock Galactic Survivor feels incredibly familiar yet has enough to set itself apart from the rest of the auto-shooter sub-genre. All the classic staples are here, with multiple characters/classes, all feeling distinct and providing neat dynamics and tactics while out in the field. Then there are the massive, randomised areas which contain loot, side-objectives and of course, waves and waves of foes that endlessly and menacingly come towards you. The goal here is simply to venture forth, collect loot, kill aliens, destroy and mini-boss of each section until you reach the heart of the hive and must face off against the Dreadnought. Oh, and of course survive, that’s the main thing to do.

Everything else is pretty much here, from automated weapons that fire on their own accord, hundreds of enemies on screen, an immense amount of XP drops that you have to pick up yourself to gain experience, and lots, and lots of upgrades and variety to them. All sounds familiar, right?

Now, I have mixed feelings towards Vampire Survivors, but do acknowledge the impact it has had on the industry along with the best components of it. The randomisation, the ease of playing and mastering its mechanics, the amount of loot, gear, upgrades and the galore of stunning visuals that get you amped so much for opening a chest, destroying a boss and just when the screen is filled with countless enemies. I love that stuff, but the general gameplay loop does become tedious for me as tactics heavily rely on RNG. But Deep Rock Galactic Survivor adds a great component and that is mining.

Mining is a great way to push you around the level to gather resources, namely Gold and Nitra, which allows you to buy upgrades during that session. But there are also other rarer minerals which you use to grant permanent upgrades, including Max Health, Pickup Radius and Luck. And mining presents a whole heap of tactical advantages, and huge dangers when things get spicy!

I love the aspect of mining, and while a simple inclusion it does add in a whole layer of tactical gameplay and, deeper sense of exploration and just means you won’t stand in one spot for 20 minutes as enemies come at you (like in Vampire Survivors). You’re pushed to venture out and doing so is quite fun, but incredibly tense as mining through solid walls of rock could be a make-or-break moment in a situation where hundreds of enemies are on your tail. The interaction between you and the world ends up being meaningful and tactical, as a love/hate relationship with the underbelly of the planet will keep you on your toes, but also reward you for your efforts immensely.

Mining is the strongest aspect and the one which sets itself apart in the sub-genre. I do feel there is easily room to expand upon this mechanic, such as mining around weak structures to set up massive traps that could buy you some breathing space, or even result in your doom. While I haven’t played the original game, I have seen a lot of memes and videos about people mining through the floor and facing a deathly drop without realising. This is hilarious and could be implemented somewhat into the final game hopefully.

Plus I just love the world of Deep Rock Galactic, with its colourful, death-defying dwarfs that risk life and limb for a few beers and a sandwich. Visually it’s very pretty and the sound design is rather excellent too.

Mining and automatic guns are bad for your health!

While mining and picking up those rare rocks it entirely up to you to do, at least you can rest assured your weapons have a mind of their own to do the job of protecting you. Players when venturing down into the depths of the alien home will always be accompanied by a friendly drone, but as the pressure turns up, more firepower is needed. By collecting dropped XP gems, new weapons and abilities will become available, ensuring you can take on the hoards without having to press the trigger yourself.

But of course, cooldowns and reloading are a big deal here in Deep Rock Galactic Survivor, and if you’re caught in a corner during a long reload, then you might as well hang up your miner’s helmet. The key mechanic I do love about survivor-likes is having to pick up XP yourself, as like the mining it pushes you forward into actively doing something. While your guns are automatic, the picking up isn’t (unless you upgrade the pickup radius). Again, it adds a nice bit of intensity, as well as the fact your weapons do have cooldowns, leaving moments of sheer dread when you’re not firing.

So upping the reload speeds is key, but there are other useful upgrades you will want when you level up a dozen times or so within a level. There’s enough choice here to pick from, be it to max out your health, increase damage, increase your luck, and so much more to craft the perfect build for you.

I focused on reload speed, and mining speed, allowing me to get away most of the time from enemy swarms while having speedy reloads to draw them back. But it’s also about picking the right class for the job. There are 4 in total (I hope more will arrive), with the Scout, Shooter, Engineer, and Miner currently present, each of whom have their perks and disadvantages. The scout is the low-level, and low-effort of the group, who’s a good all-rounder when you level him up enough. The Shooter is great for tackling the hoards and if you want to go bug hunting, then this is the dude for the job. Seeing this dude become a walking battle tank after a few upgrades is also immensely satisfying, replicating the best events of Vampire Survivors.

The Engineer is quite frankly the most interesting pick, as they focus on dropping turrets, that when upgraded do some spectacular damage. It just takes a bit of time to do so, but their efforts when dropping half a dozen of them in the what of combat are some of the most engaging defensive play I’ve had in quite some time.  

And the Miner is great for mining, and again, if you level him up enough then he’ll do enough damage to survive. Providing you don’t mind areal damage/beam weapons rather than projectiles. No matter your pick, it’s all about how you use their advantages and upgrade them as fast as possible. You will surely reach that point of brutality nirvana, where you’re unloading ungodly amounts of mayhem and destruction. And when that happens, it’s so much fun to watch.

Each class offers something new to the table, and upgrading their talents will result in some riveting gameplay encounters. But most importantly this all leans towards meaningful character progression that has a ton of perks, a lot of cool weapons and class variants that will keep repeated sessions refreshing. Yet after 12 hours of play and levelling these guys up, I felt I had seen everything on offer. More classes and characters need to be added in, especially as the likes of Vampire Survivors, have a multitude of characters to play. Granted, their character progression or strategic benefits in the field don’t match up to Deep Rock’s.

Biting solid Rock

Of course, even in peak destruction mode, you can still die rather easily, be it from a mini-boss, or a big boss, or even just missing the dropship to the next level. Especially when you have hundreds of XP drops to collect, need to finish a side objective for that sweet reward, or just can’t push your way through a hoard of aliens without taking some serious damage.

The pressure in the late game is always on, especially as everything is timed, so making quick calculations and hard decisions is ever present at every moment. But also with set events occurring in every level, with swarms, friendly drop pods you can assist landing in, and mini-bosses popping up.

While I felt the time of each session was quite perfect for the pace and intensity the developers intended, I do wish I could spend more time underground, doing the mining, fighting and just vibing. I hope the developers would add in an endless mode or increase the time limit as you can increase the difficulty of each level, with unlockable tiers that up the stakes.

The time limit does become annoying when you must tackle the more infuriatingly long side objectives, or if the RNG does not play in your favour. Thankfully the latter didn’t pop up that much, but the side objectives became the biggest point of repetition for me. It’s either mine a certain rock, pick 12 mushrooms, or 6 special flowers. I disliked the last two, and these would come up 90% of the time for me. If there were at least another three types of side objectives, it would have been fine, but for long stretches in a row, I would be picking up mushrooms again, and again, and again.

Overall, I did find the time was enough to do side objectives, mine minerals for upgrades both in the session, and permanent upgrades, and make it the hell out of there. But I can see a lot of people just not gelling with the restrictions at first, without really putting in the hours.

And like the side objectives, there is a limited number of environments currently to venture forth into, with three in total for now (and I hope more will come). All three locations Hollow Bough, Magma Core, and Crystalline Caverns, all have their charm with unique hazards, good enemy variety and bosses. But there is very little substance elsewhere, as all the set events are the same across the board, there are no story objectives or hidden rewards, and even the main bosses are pretty much the same in all three levels.

Even with the “Hazard” tiers, that act as difficulty barriers, and provide unique milestones, I still felt some things were missing. Games like Hades and yes, Vampire Survivors, have cool additions to ensure repeated playthroughs offer something truly new and exciting. I would like to see new bosses, story missions, hidden characters, bonus arenas, and most definitely more classes and characters to truly flesh out Deep Rock Galactic Survivor, into a true brilliant beast of a survivor-like.

Will this happen? Most definitely.

More content is inbound as this is still early access, and it appears most ideas suggested will be introduced including an endless mode, cosmetics and more. But regarding story content, a change-up of side objectives, and more classes? That is still not 100%. But I like to think more will be added with the feedback during early access.


 Despite lacking as many characters, game modes, and environments as other survivor-likes currently out, I have to say Deep Rock Galactic Survivor is looking incredibly promising. And for the asking price, it’s incredibly entertaining too!

Survivor-likes for me can be rather hit or miss, with even the biggest titles in the sub-genre just lacking the lasting appeal, once I feel things drone on tediously. But Deep Rock Galactic Survivor has a certain spark that kept my interest, and while I want more, this should be taken as a positive, seeing as I want to play lots more of this game. The addition to mining adds a dynamic edge over others in the sub-genre, making time within each arena feel engaging, active, and meaningful. I love the world of Deep Rock Galactic Survivor, and it’s pushed me to try out the original game due to the fascinating world and lovable characters.

I hope there is more coming soon, as I want to dive right back in and dive deeper into the grit, gruelling work and visceral spectacle Survivor has to offer. And if the developers make this as grand and renowned as the original game, then we will surely have one of the best survivor-likes to date!

++ Engaging and entertaining survival fun, with mining!
++ Mining adds a neat layer of strategy for the survivor-like formula.
++ Looks and sounds good, with plenty of dwarven charm.
+ Great selection of weapons, and powerups, and each class feels unique.

-- Limited environments, lacking special events, objective variants, and just one game mode.
- This could use a couple more classes and character variants.

A review code for Deep Rock Galactic Survivor for PC was kindly provided by the publisher for this review.