HoloCure’s new update brings greater challenges and diversity to an already excellent game

We love HoloCure, as should already be apparent. Part of the nascent arena survival genre that also includes titles like Vampire Survivors and Spirit Hunters: Infinite Horde, this completely free fangame is the work of Kay Yu, an artist who has previously contributed to titles such as Shantae and the Seven Sirens and River City Girls.

HoloCure has been in a good state for a while, featuring a cast of playable characters that covered the two main generations of English-speaking Hololive VTubers — plus IRyS, who came “between” generations — and a varied, enjoyable arsenal of weapons to use against the seemingly endless hordes of maniacal fans. Best of all, you don’t need to be a Hololive fan to enjoy it; it’s simply a really solid game.

But Yu has been teasing a big update to HoloCure for a while — and now it’s finally here, bringing with it a host of new features and tweaks, making HoloCure an even better game than it already was.

HoloCure update character select screen

Probably the most obvious change is the addition of a bunch of new characters, including the Hololive Gamers VTubers Inugami Korone, Nekomata Okayu, Ookami Mio and Shirakami Fubuki plus Hololive’s “Gen 0” VTubers Tokino Sora, Robocosan, AZKi, Sakura Miko and Hoshimachi Suisei. As in the previous version of HoloCure, these characters have to be unlocked via an in-game “gacha” that uses in-game currency — no microtransactions here, since the guidelines for Hololive fan works don’t allow monetisation — and thus you’ll gradually acquire them as you continue to play the game.

As in most gacha games, it’s possible to draw a character you’ve already unlocked. In the previous version of HoloCure, this simply increased their base stats by 1% up to a maximum of 20%, but in the new version you also acquire “Tears” — an apt name — which, when gathered in sufficient quantities, can be used to purchase new characters outright. They can also be used to acquire alternative costumes (usually palette swaps) for the various characters.

The new characters are nicely varied, featuring their own unique sprites, attacks and special abilities. As with most of the other characters in the game — and as is convention for the genre at large — most of them start seemingly rather weak, but can be upgraded to be enormously powerful. For example, Korone’s flurry of punches initially seems quite difficult to use, but once it’s upgraded to its “Awakened” form, it provides a constant barrage of damage directly in front of her, allowing for an enjoyably aggressive playstyle.

HoloCure update - Korone gameplay on stage 1

Another major addition to the game is a second stage to play through. In order to unlock this, you must beat the first stage of the game, which involves surviving for twenty minutes and then beating the “Smol Ame” boss (inspired by the famous animated .gifs by artist walfieee) that appears. The game has been noticeably rebalanced in this regard, with the first stage being quite a bit easier than it was; it’s still a challenge, to be sure, but it’s clearly been redesigned to provide a bit more of an accessible experience to newcomers, and for veterans to be able to unlock the new level as soon as possible.

The second stage of HoloCure takes some cues from Vampire Survivors’ “Library” stage in that unlike the first stage, it only scrolls infinitely in the horizontal direction; there’s a hard “wall” if you go far enough in either direction vertically. Since the level is conceptually based on the Hololive offices, there are also a lot more obstacles around the place in the form of office furniture; some of this can be destroyed to reveal helpful items, but in other cases there are some dangerous dead ends you can catch yourself in, so paying close attention to your surroundings is essential.

The second stage provides an increased opportunity to gather the HoloCoins required to unlock new characters and purchase upgrades, but is also significantly harder. Even the most basic enemies that appear at the start of the stage can be quite challenging to defeat with base-level characters, so challenging the second stage is probably best left until you’ve purchased some upgrades or drawn the same character from the gacha a few times in order to upgrade their starting statistics.

HoloCure gameplay - Ookami Mio using her special attack

There are a bunch of new weapons and items in the game now, too, some of which are unique to the new characters and others of which are usable by everyone. And, in keeping with the format of the game, some of these can be fused together at a gold anvil to create a “Collab” item — one of the best of these I’ve seen so far is the fusion between the shotgun-style Wamy Water and the rotating BL Book items; this produces an endless flurry of ice spikes that fly all around the screen, causing untold devastation everywhere.

HoloCure’s new update doesn’t fundamentally reinvent the game, but it does refine it nicely. A number of the sprites have been redrawn, additional enemy types have been added and the greater variety of ways to play mean that each run can be quite a bit different from the last. The game’s in a good state now — and if subsequent updates continue to be this substantial, the future for HoloCure is very bright indeed.

Grab a copy of HoloCure for yourself right here.

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Pete Davison
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