Vaporum has recently ported over from PC to the home consoles. In it, you strive to make your way around the labyrinthian halls of a giant structure in the ocean. This is a dungeon crawl adventure, so strap on your adventuring gear as we delve into this game to see what mysteries we can uncover.
Gameplay: the bad
This is probably the weakest part of the game. While it does things right, it has some flaws on the console that would not exist on the PC. Movement, as an example, is clunky. You have two options, you can either have the game read you holding the analog stick as multiple inputs, or have to push the stick each time you want to move. What this means is that, in the first option, if you happen to be holding the stick for too long when you arrive at the square, as there is a point when the character stops, it will keep moving in that direction. For the second option, it stores each input and goes down in the order that you put it in. What this means is that when you are dealing with puzzles that require fast movement, you need to make sure you count the times you press the stick in the proper direction to ensure you don’t go too far or not far enough before you turn.
Movement, however, is probably where this game suffers the most from the port, the rest of the game seems to flow smoothly. One of the things I greatly appreciated was that you could ask for tooltips and when you highlighted a stat or game term, it would describe the term and let you know what it can do. This is great especially for those new to the genre.
Gameplay: The Good
Another way they help newcomers is having an option where the game will keep track of a map for you as you explore. It includes the option to make your own notes for different things. These include the type of key for a door, traps, and many other notes you might want. Want to make it harder for yourself? Turn the map option off. Although the map is offscreen until you press a button to pull it up so if you forget to turn it off, you can still go through the game without seeing it.
The strongest part of gameplay would be the puzzles. Most of the puzzles involve trying to figure out how a particular door opens or to get access to a key, but they are fun to solve. Each puzzle varies in difficulty, and while you might get stuck for a little bit, there is always a logical solution that makes sense if you think about what is at your disposal. The hardest ones, I found, were usually time based ones, but that is due to the difficulty mentioned with the movement.
One more thing, I wish they had autosaves in the game. You’d be exploring the world and get lost in solving the puzzles and forget to save. Die to a pit of spikes, and then have to start all the way at the start of the floor. While saving is fast and easy, you only have to press two buttons. It can be hard to remember when the game is doing its job right; which is immersing you into the world and the story.
The enemies in this game are varied and imaginative. They ranged from simple spider robots, to large humanoids that have been transformed beyond recognition. Each enemy has different attacks and attack patterns, forcing you to be able to strategize against multiple of them. Here, the rooms actually are your enemy as well, forcing you to be spatially aware and planning your route to make sure you don’t get trapped.
To help with planning, the game offers a system where until you move or do an action, time stops. I didn’t use this much, as it prevents my recharge for abilities to occur when you’re hiding from an enemy and waiting for them to approach to do an attack on them. However, it might be useful for those unfamiliar with these types of combat systems.
Unfortunately, the poor movement affects the combat as well. You try to quickly move out of the way, and you move too far into a wall, trapping yourself. You try to turn around, and in your panic, turn too much. In this game where each movement counts, the wrong move can be deadly.
The story in this game is told Bioshock style. You find notes and fully voiced recordings throughout your journey, helping to explain what happened to the inhabitants of this tower. The game starts with you waking up in front of this tower, with no memory. You feel drawn to this monstrosity. You enter it in hopes of learning more of what happened to you.
The story itself is interesting, but not the main focus of the game. As you can play the whole game without listening to, or reading a single piece of lore. They help enrich the experience and can help lead you to secret areas or advise you of enemies ahead. The real draw of this game, however, is not the story, but the puzzles of the dungeon.
In conclusion, Vaporum is a fantastic game and well worth playing. Unfortunately, due to the movement issues with the controller, it was more frustrating then exhilarating for me. Would I advise this game? Yes. Would I advise this port? No. If you want to play this game, play it on the PC. Unless you like things really difficult and to test your skill