Monday, 1 October 2012

Vessel Review

Vessel is a puzzle platformer that utilises liquid. What I mean by it uses liquid is that each puzzle has you either manipulating it in someway or creating some little liquid helpers in the form of Fluros. These Fluros run and jump on the first lit up switch they see and as such you need to coerce them into jumping on the switches you want.

As you progress through the initial levels of the game it slowly shows the different types of puzzles and has a nice easy tutorial level learning curve. Includes Steam achievements.

The world of Vessel is world where the Fluros (automated liquid dudes) help humanity and make their lives easier. However, they start to go awry and chaos unfolds. This leads us to Arkwright (the guy you play as and inventor of the Fluros) having to go around visiting place to place in order to discover the origin of what is happening and try to fix the mess left behind by his inventions along the way.

The game introduces the world through a the sketches and drawing Arkwright has and kind of introduces the world. It is a little unclear what is going on to begin with but once you finish the first level you start to understand what is happening. I believe that the opening scene sets enough mystery in order to get you through the first level that again gives a sense of intrigue since you are still fairly unclear about what is happening. The story is told through a journal that Arkwright carries around with him. They are brief but substantial enough to fill in the gaps that might be missing from what you do around the world.

The game itself suggest using a controller, of some sort, over a keyboard. Having tried it out with both I can say that personally I would agree in using a controller. Mainly due to having trouble with the platforming on the keyboard, but to be honest if you don't have a controller don't be put of by Strange Loop Games suggesting you should. 

 There is a basic upgrade system for increased water tank capacity and different types of nozzle. These can obtain by collecting protoplasm. The collection of these gives additional puzzles that are often harder than the main game. However you can happily enjoy the main game without having to worry if you haven't collected them all.

In Vessel you use liquid to manipulate the environment in order to pass onto the next room. This included the Fluros but is not limited to them.

However, the platforming sections can is where the game often falls down with the jump feeling fairly wooden at times but it isn't anything game breaking. The puzzles are still enjoyable it can just be a tad frustrating when you can make a platform you know you should be able to.

The camera can zoom in or out without warning and this can often lead to you not seeing a Fluros' movements or not being able to see your own resulting in disastrous endings to a puzzle. E.g death.

Another issue is that the Fluros and physics engine is not always relable. However, this can often make the Fluros seem more sentient because it their AI doesn't always do what you would expect it adds another element to be overcome. A bit like real people aren't always going to be the same the Fluros can change. Whether you find this to be to your taste or not is really down to you. Personally while at times it can be a bit annoying it is again not exactly game breaking.

Vessel take place along a 2D plain with a 3D backdrop. This can at times mean it is hard to differentiate what you can actually interact with. However, Vessel does have a number of different environments to travel through and the puzzles evolve as you journey through the game.

Main menu has a pretty lack luster screen. Considering how nice to loading screen and the game itself is the main menu is not a great example of the games art style.  Loading screen is cool but sometimes can feel like it is loading for ages.

Vessel is a solid puzzle platformer that lasts upwards of 10 hours for main game but if you are wanting to get all the secrets and upgrade everything it can take considerably longer and if you want to get all the Steam achievements you are looking at longer still. With a nice blend of levels and differences in puzzles my only complaints are the camera can be uncooperative and the platforming lets the game down.

Score - 76/100

General Information 

Game Name: Vessel
Genre: Puzzle Platformer
Developer: Strange Loop Game
Release date: 1st March 2012
Bundle: Humble Bundle 6
Additional: Comes with soundtrack if you buy it from Humble Bundle 6
System Requirements:
OS: Windows XP or later
Processor: 2.0GHz
Memory: 2 GB
OS: 10.6 Snow Leopard or later
Processor: 2.0GHz
Memory: 2 GB
Processor: 2.0GHz
Memory: 2 GB

Please note: The finishing touches for Vessel's Mac and Linux debut are still being completed; they will be posted as they become available. (Humble Bundle 6)