What would you do if you shipwrecked, lost your memories, were the only survivor and the first thing you saw was a gigantic steampunk tower? Me, I’d start trying to hitchhike another ship, but in Vaporum’s protagonist’s case, he thought entering the ominous structure would be the best choice. How did it turn out? Play to find out.
- Hot & Steamy: I’ve played many dungeon crawlers over the years and I’ve got to say, even though Vaporum shares their core mechanics, the Steampunk aesthetic does a lot for the game, it makes it stand out and gives the monsters a central concept to work around. The clunky, convoluted and over the top Steampunk style does wonders for quickly identifying threats.
- No Mice Here: They really made it so the PS4 controls work really well with a game that almost screams Mouse & Keyboard. The cursor immediately locks into the nearest interactive spot, and you can quickly switch between multiples, leaving the free-roam cursor only for finding hidden buttons and such when you’re not in a hurry. It really works quite nicely.
- That’s not how light works: That’s the phrase I mostly spoke out loud when playing this game. Vaporum is the kind of game where the darkness feels like molasses, it’s cloying and not even the brightest light can dissolve it. You have light sources everywhere, but they illuminate a millimetre around them. Your built-in flashlight does absolutely nothing in most cases. A single candle in a dark room offers more illumination in real life than all the steampunk lights do in this game. I’ll say it again: THAT’S NOT HOW LIGHT WORKS!!
- Foam hammers, Nerf Guns: For the insane ways in which normal enemies seem to buff up as you progress through the game, the equipment you find (weapons and gadgets) never feels powerful enough. Even against the bog-standard spiderbot, the first damn enemy in the game, it always feels like you’re on the losing end. Hell, by the end you have to stack your poison pool gadget with the electric one, plus the health stealing gadget to take back those 300 points they took from you in one hit, and also the holographic decoy and keep at it for at least 5 to 10 minutes to kill a pack of freaking cockroaches, and I am not making that up.
- Skill Forest: There are lots of skill trees to invest points in but much like the above, you rarely feel much more powerful in taking skill ranks. Worse still, there are equipment restrictions locked behind the 3rd rank in a few skill trees, making it even harder to get the most out of a single tree. Did we really need a skill rank in Shields to be able to equip heavy shields? Did we really need to lock 2 gadgets behind the 3rd rank in TWO different skill trees? I say no, that’s poor design.
- Locked-room Massacre: Gods this game does love to lock you in tiny rooms with a lot of enemies, especially with the kind of enemy that needs to touch you only once to leave a painful damage over time effect on you. Worse still, the drop rates of certain recovery items are so ridiculously low that save-scumming becomes a valid tactic!
- Average Joe Boss: You know what I really dislike? When bosses aren’t unique. Every single boss eventually becomes a random schmuck enemy for you to fight and they don’t get easier, no, the normal enemy variants are even harder than the bosses because enemies in this game get so massively over inflated in both health and damage that it frankly gets silly.
- Humdrum Drama: The plot is really uninteresting, entirely predictable, doesn’t have even a single likeable character and it’s almost as if the voice actors knew it, because they recite their lines like they don’t really give a damn. It’s a by the book “power corrupts” story with every cliché you can think of, mixed in with every cliché for the “amnesiac protagonist” angle.