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  • Writer's pictureAllan Jenks

Game Review #231: Vaporum (Nintendo Switch)

Reviewer: Jordan M.

Developer: Fatbot Games

Publisher: Merge Games

Category: Adventure/Strategy/Role Playing

Release Date: 04.11.2019

Price (at time of review): $24.99

Buy Vaporum from the Nintendo Switch eShop here.

Buy Vaproum Regular Edition from Amazon UK here.

Buy Vaporum Signature Edition CE here.

The Dark Tower

You find yourself waking up on the rocks near an ocean with no memory of anything before you arrived here. We find ourselves next to a giant tower, a "monumental monster" as described by your character. Despite our fear, we find ourselves attracted to it, as if somehow we possess a type of connection to it and this area. However, we find no way to get inside. Suddenly, as if the tower has a sense of who we are, it opens to reveal itself to us. With nothing to lose, we enter. Originally released in September of 2017 on Steam, Vaporum is now making its way over to Nintendo Switch. Vaporum describes itself as a dungeon-crawling RPG with an original "steampunk" setting. Do I like dungeon crawlers? Yes! RPGs? Yes! Steampunk stuff? Yes! *Insert Daniel Bryan chant*. All of these things are things I enjoy, which made me excited to try this one out.

How Did the Steampunk Calm Down? He Let Off Steam

This game runs in a classic grid formation as seen in other tactical types of RPGs. If you've ever played games such as Legend of Grimrock, then this game will make you feel like you’re in familiar territory. Your left controller stick moves you in different directions, while the right stick allows you to look around. When it comes to interacting with your environment, holding R1 will show your cursor. If there is something around you that will allow for interaction, you can use either the directional pad to click directly to something, or use the left stick to move it around the map yourself manually.

One of the coolest parts of the beginning of the game is when you're given the option of choosing your Exo Rig. The game allows for four different options for you to choose from: Thauma, Assault, Combat, and Heavy. Each one has its own unique stats, effects, and weaknesses. I went with an option I don't typically choose in games and picked Heavy Rig, which increases my toughness by 30% and increases my chance to reflect enemy attacks. I usually play as a really fast but paper-thin type of character. Your Exo Rig will gain Funium as you destroy enemies. This will increase the overall power of you rig.

Because Every Man Looks Good in a Suit

Once you have your suit equipped, you're opened up to a whole new world of options. Pressing down on the D pad will bring up your inventory where you can store any items you may find. You can also now equip items into different slots on your rig, such as weapons and armor. Once you have a weapon equipped, it can be used by pressing either L1 or R1, depending on which hand in which you have it equipped. If you want to save at any time, press ZL and + together. Be careful to save often, and remember that ZL and the - or start button will load your most recent save... I forgot this and lost a lot of progress, and had to start over. SIGH.

Your health bar, or Exo Rig integrity, can be fixed by using Repair Kits, which, if you have any in your inventory, can be used by pressing left on the D pad. Aside from all the different weapons there are throughout the game, there are also many different types of thaumaturgical gadgets that can be found throughout the game, which can be equipped. These can be used as weapons in combat, for outsmarting enemies, or as a buffer.

As our character progresses through the game, he finds collections of notes and recordings from several different people that start to reveal the tower's past. Thankfully, the game will show you how many total notes or tapes a person has when you find one belonging to each individual person, so if you feel you missed something you can always go back and look around. These can be accessed at any time by opening your inventory and scrolling to your Notes tab.

One really kinda neat option the game also provides is the ability to stop time. At any time during your gameplay, pressing ZL and up on the D pad will toggle you into "Stop Time Mode". As long as you don't make an action, the game is frozen and allows for you to plan for what you wish to do next. Once you make an action, time begins to move forward. If you have ever played the VR game Superhot, it is a little similar to this (also a game I would definitely recommend if you have a PSVR). Please don't kill me for talking about a PS4 game, guys. *cowers*

Another thing I need to mention is that, as your Exo Rig increases in level, Circuit Points are earned. These can be used to upgrade several different types of abilities involving your suit, such as blunt weapon ability, handguns, dual wielding, armor, etc. Look at each option and plan a little ahead how you might want to decide to build your setup. My first thought was to increase my handguns along with my duel-wielding abilities. The game allows for several different types of builds, so choose the one that's right for you!

Pretty and Creepy = Pretty Creepy

The graphics in this game look and run really smoothly. The environments are well-detailed and the game does a really good job of capturing that old sort of industrial gears and pipes steampunk feel. The enemies in this game are very nicely thought out and offer a wide variety of challenges. Never did I experience any real frame rate drops moving from area to area. I really dig all of the creepy background sounds, like hearing water dripping somewhere or a chain slowly creaking, the sound of your footprints on a cold metal floor, steam shooting from a pipe, an enemy skittering at you, etc. The main character's voice acting, as well as the voice acting on the tapes was solid, and at no time seemed overacted or annoying, which, if you've read any of my reviews, you know I tend to be fairly critical of English voice acting.

Did I get Steampunk'd?

This is a pretty great game. The moment you get your Exo Rig you know it's going to be something fun. The game looks really great on the Switch in both docked and handheld mode. The game may seem intimidating at first, as there is a lot to learn, but they do a superb job of leading you through it bit by bit and teaching you at a nice pace. The game provides a bit of a challenge, but never did I feel too overwhelmed or that something was too difficult to figure out. I really enjoyed finding the different notes and such, and learning the history of the tower and finding its secrets. The variety of the different types of enemies is impressive and very creative, to say the least. Many times did I feel like I was playing almost a steampunk version of Fallout.

If you've ever read any of my reviews, as I mentioned before, you know how I feel about voice acting usually, but this game does a good job of it. The game is dark and eerie, and really fits the description of having a "steampunk" vibe. Also, something I have to give a nod to without much of a spoiler... The first weapon I found gave a wonderful little homage to another game I truly loved, and that is something really appreciated. My only qualm I have with the game is that there is not a high replayability value. Other than that, if you're looking for a nice puzzler combined with real-time combat with a solid story, then this game would make a great addition to your Switch collection.

Rating: 9/10

Buy Vaporum from the Nintendo Switch eShop here.

Buy Vaproum Regular Edition from Amazon UK here.

Buy Vaporum Signature Edition CE here.

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*Review Code Provided by Terminals

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