Friday, December 28, 2012

Review: escapeVektor (3DS)

Late last year, WiiWare was a nearly dead platform; a very unfortunate time for Aussie devlopers Nnooo to release escapeVeektor: Chapter 1 on the console.

The fact we never saw Chapter 2 released there is telling of its limited success despite being an incredible game, I think. Thankfully, then, the game has a second chance, with escapeVektor arriving on both Vita and the 3DS eShop. Fingers crossed it gets the attention it deserves this time around.

You can read our review of the WiiWare game for a full overview of the game. I won't go over the mechanics of the game again as there hasn't been a great deal changed to the basic formula, it's just that this time around there's a whole lot more of it.

escapeVektor features all of the content that Nnooo had initially planned to portion out in chapters. So, while the game is a little more expensive on Vita and 3DS than its WiiWare genesis, the extra content (there's 150 levels this time around) more than offsets the additional price. The games now feature comprehensive online leaderboards and on the 3DS, the 3D effect is subtle, but slick.

The game is still genuinely challenging, too. A single mistake will destroy the little arrow character and will send you back to the start of the level. Levels are expertly designed to offer up interesting and dynamic challenges - this is by far the best Pac Man/ Qix-styled retro game I've ever played. With so many levels on offer there was the real danger that the game would become a repetitive grind, but I never felt that across the entire 150-level run time.

I do, however, have an issue with the use of hardware this time around. It's unfortunate, but it does dampen the overall experience. The optimal way to play the game's more challenging levels is zoomed out; the point of view is far too restricted (especially with the 3DS version) when zoomed in to be much use. But pushing down a button for the entirety of a level becomes very uncomfortable over extended play sessions.

Similarly, the default pace of the arrow is very slow. It can be accelerated by pressing down a button, and this nominally reduces a "boost" gauge. Should it empty then the arrow will return to normal pace, but in almost all cases that gauge will never empty, and levels are best played with the button pressed down the whole time. This means you'll be pressing down two buttons for the entirety of most levels, and I would have thought the better route to follow would be to have a zoomed-out, boosted play style as the default. Let players press a button to zoom in or slow things down, because those are rare occasions indeed.

That technical fault doesn't hinder the game's entertainment value, but it is a surprising oversight for such a slick package. The game looks incredible, has a classy electronic soundtrack, and even the narrative, which is something Nnooo (of Spirit Hunters and Pop fame) is very inexperienced in, is engaging. It's a great value package on either 3DS or Vita, and is frankly essential stuff.




- Matt S
I'm on Twitter: @DigitallyDownld
Also MiiVerse: WaltzIT

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