Vesta is a puzzle game in which the player traverses through thirty-six levels, through a dark and gritty complex, in search of learning what has happened. The game uses a character swapping mechanic very similar to The Legend of Zelda: Spirit Tracks. Let’s see how it holds up.
Release date: January 19, 2018
Approximate Size: 1.09 GB
Genre: Puzzle, Action
Developed by FinalBoss Games
Published by FinalBoss Games
Reviewed on Nintendo Switch; also available on Playstation 4, Xbox One, and PC.
The story is about the six year old Vesta and how she decides to explore the lonely underground labyrinth she has always known. We don’t know why she is alone or where the other humans are, if there are any left, and together we accompany her as she searches her small world for clues. Shortly after taking on her journey to explore and learn more, she runs into Droid and, together, they aid one another. It isn’t the deepest story but it’s enough to inspire the player to move forward. More of the plot unravels through the beautifully crafted digital comic strips. In an era where AAA companies didn’t feel as if they need to put it a story, I appreciate this one’s attempt.
Vesta’s gameplay is straight forward and simple. You proceed through the games thirty-six levels while in control of two characters. The title character, Vesta, and her robot companion Droid. With the touch of a button, you swap between them, and each one offers something the other cannot. Vesta is weak but can harness energy from enemy robots and place that power in other objects to help move forward in the level. Droid, on the other hand, can shoot enemies and temporarily disable them for Vesta to harness their energy and he can also carry Vesta around the level and throw her to other areas. Adding this type of co-op is dependent on the mechanics working correctly because if they don’t, it’ll ruin the experience. Especially if the balance in gameplay is off. Thankfully, this game does it well. Each character has a role and it’s up to the player to figure out how to best complete the level.
The levels are puzzles, tiny little avenues where the player must figure out how to try from point A to point B. Along the way you will find collectables, a sense of discovery as you stumble on them. They don’t add or offer anything more to the simple pleasure of finding them but they are welcomed and unexpected. Solving these puzzles is enjoyable and you feel a sense of accomplishment on the more tricky ones. In this game, however, you must proceed with caution because the controls can be a little too sensitive and falling off the stage is a more common epidemic than it should be. The thing with death in this game, despite fast loading times, is that you start at the beginning of the stage. One wrong move and you can lose ten minutes of progress. This may be a turn off for gamers who haven’t been tried in the fire of classic consoles or games. It can be frustrating, especially when the fault isn’t due to skill but because of unrefined mechanics. Another gripe is that there is a way to reach the end of the level and not be able to proceed because you didn’t follow the sequence of events you didn’t know you were supposed to follow. This is a large oversight from the developer but it’s not something I feel was intentional. My advice, be careful how you use your energy because it could leave you with no way forward and you can’t go back, so restarting several minutes of progress is your only option.
I’ve seen several comments of bewilderment at this game’s lack of multiplayer. People feel that this co-op mechanic would be perfect for two players. I disagree. Each character on their own doesn’t have enough substance for a player to control. Nor are there any puzzles that would offer a satisfying payoff or that would require the type of coordination to successful pull off that particular type of multiplayer. The route the developer have gone in is perfect for this game. If the game spawns a sequel and puzzles are designed with this in mind, as well as the character abilities, I would love to see it.
Overall the gameplay is solid but there are some questionably design choices. However, the most important aspect of the gameplay is whether or not it’s fun. It’s decent and I did enjoy it for what it’s worth. The boss fights get a special mention for being a blast to play, I really enjoyed them and thought they were pretty great. I wish there was more of them and they added some variety in gameplay that was welcomed.
Vesta isn’t the most beautiful game on the market, it doesn’t go out of its way with it’s visuals, but it does what it sets out to. Most of the backgrounds or play area is rustic metal corridors with different sources of light adding color. In terms of story, it makes sense but, graphically, it’s average. It’s not going to turn heads or set standards but it is charming in its own ways. Don’t get me wrong, it has it’s moments where it looks fantastic but they are few and far between. This indie darling is very reminiscent of an old era, somewhere between PlayStation 2 and 3. It would have been nice for the developers to have made an excuse to diversify the environments. Perhaps in a sequel but that doesn’t help this title.
There is little in terms of enemy design but the few that are present express and reflect the world crafted as you might imagine. Once again, they aren’t anything out of this world but they serve their purpose. Vesta, as a whole, is the best piece of this game. The curious red head has received the most care in terms of design. She comes across as one would expect a child to turn out who is full of curiosity. I loved her hair color and style, her giant glasses, and green mechanic looking attire. She sticks out in the bland world and it’s easy to see where the priority in resources went. Her robot partner, the bulky Droid, also has a design that sticks out apart from other robots. They did a good job with his design because he could have easily been lost in this world with his design but he sticks out enough.
The highlight of the visuals must go to the wonderful comic strips that push the story along as the player starts a new chapter. My only complaint is that I wish there was more of them. My hat off to the artist because they did a fantastic job and really improved on the story and didn’t allow the unimpressive graphics to enter into them. If they were to release a stand alone issue, I would purchase it.
The sound effects of the game serve their purpose but, once again, it’s nothing out of this world or particularly impressive. They do enhance the experience and the game would be worse without them. The true highlight is the games music. They’ve chosen to take these insanely wonderful beats and pair them with what seems to be orchestral musical pieces and together they form a wonderfully unique audio experience. It adds more depth to the game, it really fills the world and makes this journey, this experience, far more fulfilling. They really tell a story of their own, they paint a picture, and they pull the emotions out of the player. A round of applause to the music engineer.
Vesta isn’t an impressive game and it’s not a bad game. Some things it does well, such as how the story is presented and the audio presentation, and some things leave you questioning why it is the way it is, such as reaching the end of the level and not being able to proceed and the lack of visual variety. Despite it’s flaws, the game is fun, the puzzles are enjoyable, the discoveries are nice, and the character swapping mechanic is good. There are worse games that cost vastly more.