Developer: Friend & Foe AB
Publisher: Friend & Foe AB
Release Date: Jan 15, 2018
Edited by Eden
I had the opportunity to have a look at Vane, an exclusive release on PS4 from Friend & Foe and the imagery was up to snuff with the screenshots and trailers I had seen, simply beautiful. Desolate post-apocalyptic desert wastelands as far as the eye could see and detailed caverns with multiple platforming and exploring opportunities. I am not your usual console gamer. In fact, 90% of my gaming is done on the PC but when this opportunity arose, I said “Let’s go for it” because it looked like it would be more my speed. I was both right and wrong.
Vane is billed as an adventure game and while I could see that, it is more of a puzzle like game and less of an adventure game. You maneuver through the environment in one of two forms, a bird that resembles a crow and as a child. Utilizing these forms, you either fly over the landscape, across caverns, from platform to platform with the bird or you explore through the caverns and jump on pathways and platforms as the child. Each form activates various triggers such as weighted spinners, trip levers, and pushable rocks to cause actions within the environment to occur and thus solving a component of each puzzle until all components are done to activate the final action within the “level”. One thing to note, while I call these puzzles it was really an exercise in observation and deduction and nothing logic based.
There wasn’t much of a story to follow or to align you with what you are to do. Occasionally above ground, you would get flashing beacons to indicate where to go but not much else moved the progression along except to figure out the challenge and complete it. For example, who was the shadowy dude in the plague mask from the opening scenes? Some voice over/narration would have gone a long way to help this game.
The controls within the game are simple enough, the left stick performs a directional movement, the right stick operates the camera, X jumps/flaps wings, Circle grabs/slow down and Triangle calls out to other birds or children. Unfortunately, the camera movement is sloppy and tends to float away during flight, not allowing you to establish a direct view if you are attempting to land on something small. During camera movement within confined spaces, you experience the camera going through and behind walls obscuring your view completely without an ability to zoom in or draw the camera closer to your character.
As I said before the artwork and imagery was beautiful and in many ways very smooth, but the interaction of the character within the environment wasn’t so smooth. Many times, I would see the child not snapping to the surface but instead would be knee deep into the surface making it appear very odd. It really appeared to me that a great deal of time was put into the flight form of the bird and its motions/activity within the air; the detail was incredible. Flight motion was smooth and reminded me of a time when I watched birds casually fly across my property. The child, on the other hand, was a simple child. Without a zoom effect on the camera it was hard to get a good look at the detail on the child, but it was enough to get the point across that it was a child.
The gameplay overall was smooth and workable, there were not many choices so once you play through the game that’s it, you have done it. The challenges within the game begin to get repetitive and are not that interesting to solve. Nothing was terribly difficult and there is no time pressure or concern for a loss during the entire game. An idea to make it more interesting would be to keep a timer running and see if you can beat your time from a previous run through. I also did not find a save action but it does a form of autosave so if you quit before finishing, you resume at the beginning of the “level” you left on.
- Beautiful artwork
- Incredibly smooth realistic flight motion
- Glitchy graphics
- Repetitive actions
- Lack of real story
Thorstag gives Vane a Drastik Measure of 4.2 out of 10 (42)
In summary, at the beginning of this review, I thought it was going to be more my speed and that I was both right and wrong. Vane is a beautiful slow-paced game but that is all it really has going for it and priced at $24.99 it isn’t worth it with the lack of re-playability, repetitive often boring actions that must be undertaken in order to see more of that beautiful artwork. If you don’t mind solving very similar challenges over and over just so you can see some pretty artwork than give it a shot, but I still wouldn’t recommend it.