Indie Review: Vessel
Vessel is a 2D physics based puzzle platformer that manages to stick out from the rest of the relatively massive indie crowd.
- Addictive?Yes, quite
- Worth The Time?Definitely
- Things LovedEnjoyable and unique water based physics, a considerably long game considering the price and indie game status, enjoyable soundtrack
- Things Hatedfunky water physics and body animations
- RecommendationFor any fan of physics platforming fun
- Quick ConclusionA thoroughly enjoyable game with an almost perfect learning curve and loads of consistently interesting puzzle elements to enjoy; though lacking any real narrative to speak of.
- Name: Vessel
- Genre: Action, Platformer
- Players: 1
- Multiplayer: No
- Platforms: PC, PS3, Xbox 360
- Developer: Strange Loop Games
- Publisher: IndiePub
- Price: $14.99
- Reviewed On: PC
In the indie gaming world, there is one unquestionably popular genre, 2D physics based puzzle platformers. They are the dominant breed and any new indie game attempting to make its name, especially in that genre, will almost certainly have its work cut out for it. That said, if a game were to stand out, it’s usually for a reason, and with Vessel we have a darn good reason.
So let’s skip the introduction to this show and tell and get straight to the meat and potatoes; which without some unique gameplay aspect to draw you away from the million other titles, Vessel has no hope. Fortunately for Vessel’s sake, and for the sake of the player who has to cash out a higher than normal price for an indie game, you get a very meaty game with plenty of gameplay girth to back it up. As you’ve no doubt surmised, Vessel uses physics based puzzle mechanics and standard platforming to comprise most of its levels. The difference here is the introduction of some rather unique water and AI based mechanics.
The premise for the game is the protagonist’s most prized invention, a fluid species that runs and powers the machines of this steam punk era, now changed and corrupted for the worse. This species, the Fluros, in an act of rebellion, lock professor M. Arkwright, that’s you, outside of your lab and starts to play haywire with your machinery, creating a mutated and squishy uprising you need to prevent. In order to do so, you need to manipulate the fluid and fluros powered machinery by using a series of switches, pipes, controls and levers to get the fluros to operate more buttons, doors and other such devices out of your reach; or that need simultaneous activation. To further along your cause, not that the fluros need your help, with their insatiable need to press lit up switches, you are given seeds. Seeds, when introduced to the appropriate fluids, transform into specific fluros that then go on about their business. As they follow their own paths, you use the machinery, fluid and a trusty storage tank strapped to your back to manipulate them into doing your liquid based bidding.
It’s all very well devised and despite a lengthy 10 or so hour game, that’s ages for indie games of this sort, there is almost no end to new and enjoyable puzzles, challenges and things to see; it’s one of the best paced games I have come across. On top of that is an almost perfect learning curve that gently guides and maintains the appropriate challenge throughout the game. Vessel doesn’t let you get off so easily all the time however and will make short work of your steady pace and confidence with the occasional brain buster or massive, multi-tiered, multi-levered puzzle. It’s all in good fun though and while you’re able to reset any puzzle you think you’ve made a mess of, there are a couple ways of doing some and all provide a nice sense of accomplishment. That, in addition to secret content and puzzles makes Vessel one of the most packed and well worth the cash indie games in a while.
It’s not all perfect, no game, especially with such a small dev team ever will be. Fluid physics can act up or get a bit wonky now and then and the fluids physics don’t always play nice with your character. It’s very infrequent however and you’ll be enjoying the quirky look and enjoyable sound track to the game; though the sound track can get a bit repetitive and the odd extra song wouldn’t hurt. The other slightly lacking feature was the narrative which never really reveals enough, or when it does, with a quick enough pace to satisfy your curiosity. At the end of the day however, it doesn’t really matter as the gameplay is more than enough to satiate any fan of the genre or one that wants a very enjoyable physics puzzle romp.