Developed by the amazingly named Fatbot Games, Vaporum is a dungeon crawler with some very recognizable influences. Mixing in the progression system of more traditional looking role playing games with the aesthetic of Bioshock, the game wears its inspirations on its sleeves. The look and story may bring to mind many other games, but Vaporum provides a fun experience that stands out.
The plot of the game begins with a cutscene told using some beautiful art. Vaporum starts with a scene that is reminiscent of Hokusaid’s The Wave. The camera pans showing the minimalist surroundings. There are the rocks the protagonist has found himself on, a large tower in the background, and a washed out background. It is all very simple, yet it engages the player into its mystery.
The rest of Vaporum is similar. The game’s graphics look great and add to the atmosphere. The mysterious tower the player decides to enter is a dark and uninviting labyrinth filled with puzzles and enemies. Early on, you have no light making it difficult to see the path in front of you. Once you have found your exo suit, you gain a little light, but the tower is still dark. It is stunning how much tone Vaporum is able to convey.
There is more to the game than just appropriate atmosphere. Vaporum plays very smoothly. Initially, the grid based movement may throw some players off. Even going in knowing what type of game it is, the motion is still a change of pace. It is a small thing that does not take long to get used to. Especially since the rest of the game play so smooth. The game responds immediately to commands and combat is fun, and has numerous puzzles that never become frustrating no matter how difficult they may be.
Vapoum is also about exploration. The combination of great graphics and smooth gameplay never make this an annoyance. There are plenty of secrets and weapons to be found since exploration is a big part of pretty much every game nowadays. The problem becomes that some games make it more of a chore than a feature. In Vaporum, the player wants to see what is behind the next door, even if it is obviously off the beaten path.
Inventory management is another part of the experience. Even those who are familiar with organizing their large RPG inventories may initially find this a little daunting. It is not that it is difficult. In fact, the game makes it all very easy and intuitive. It is more about there being so much. You choose a customizable exosuit and are able to do pretty much whatever you want with it. Along with the suits, there are many weapons and a perk tree to be aware of. It is a lot to watch over, but it also keeps the game from ever getting stale.
Vaporum’s biggest weakness may be the story. There is nothing wrong with it. It immediately gets the player invested and plays out exactly how it should. Which is the problem. Many times it becomes too familiar. A man crashes in the ocean, wakes up with amnesia, and enters a mysterious tower. The gloomy atmosphere. exosuit, and even the UI will instantly draw comparisons. And when Vaporum is not looking like Bioshock, level design has a tendency to become repetitive.
There is no doubt that Vaporum is a very good game. Fans of the genre will definitely enjoy it while gamers looking for something new should absolutely give it a try. The graphics and gameplay are top notch and the story is a fun one. The game can be a little too much like others at times, but it is definitely worth checking out.
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