- Spoiler: show
10/07 - Vane
I've had my eye on this game for a very long time. I remember it was cryptically announced many years ago, according to some Googling around 2014, drawing my attention for its striking visual style and the involvement of an ex-Team Ico developer on board. Then through many years it got stuck in development hell, and I believe the Ico dev left, but it eventually saw the light of day. But when it did finally come out last year, reviews were rather middling on it, so at the time I passed on it. So now I finally picked it up in the Steam sale.
My experience with it was kind of mixed, so I can see why it got the reception it did. On the one hand it's got some truly amazing visuals, with some parts having you flying around a vast open desert with dramatic vistas, and others in some kind of apocalyptic wasteland where an endless storm rages and tears away at the remaining shreds of strange metallic towers. During these latter sections, it does this thing where the environment warps and shifts around you as you push a strange golden orb through the levels, as if it has some kind of time control power that is able to temporarily restore the damage done by the furious tempest. The soundtrack to go with it is fantastic too. It's an uncharacteristically synth soundtrack, full of foreboding droning tones, occasionally punctuated by thumping bass. It sounds like something that could come from a sort of dark hybrid of Tron and Blade Runner. A very unusual sound to hear out of this sort of game, that one usually associates with the stylings of Austin Wintory or Ko Otani. So at times it's very atmospheric, with a really impressive surreal aesthetic that is pretty unique.
But the game feels rather awkward and obtuse to play at times, and not in a good way. Even though objectives are very simple, and conceptually repeat several times through the game, they still feel very poorly communicated. It's not good at giving you direction at all. Telling you what you need to do to progress, what direction you need to go in, what abilities you have and what they are for. Even at the very first playable section of the game I was stumped and it took me a while to work out what to do. So there were a lot of occasions where I felt like I was walking around in circles for way too long just having no clue what the game wanted from me, even when the solution was very uncomplicated. The game is pretty short too, about three hours. But I'm sure a lot of that could be cut down if I wasn't just at a loss at what the game wanted from me a lot of the time.
So while I do appreciate the fantastic and unique art direction, the problems did prevent this from being a standout game when it comes to this sort of arty adventure fare. Good, but not great.