Monday, February 26, 2018

Vesta (NSW, PS4, XB1, PC) Review

With mere days left in the month of February, let's get to some final posts for the month! The first is a review for a cross-platform digital release seen on Nintendo Switch (the platform I'm reviewing the game on), PlayStation 4, Xbox One, and Steam. It's Vesta, developed by Final Boss Games and published by EastAsiaSoft. Let's take a look, shall we?

Child labor laws be damned.

While other platforms with digital storefronts have reached a point of saturation, one where average video games often get overlooked by the higher quality of everything else (making them all the more difficult to sift through from the rest), the Nintendo Switch is still (barely) less than a year old. Although it hasn't slowed down with its steady array of weekly eShop releases, it's much easier to gleam what games are coming out each week since the amount of total games on that marketplace is much smaller.

However, this is soon becoming an issue with the Nintendo Switch as well, and with it, so does the issue that games like Final Boss Games's Vesta will face on the Nintendo eShop like it has on other digital storefronts -- too much competition and little attention. That said, although Vesta isn't as big of a name as your Rocket Leagues or Stardew Valleys, is Final Boss Games's effort worth your attention regardless?

Careful, as one hit from an enemy and it's lights out!
Vesta is an isometric puzzle-adventure game that has you controlling one of two characters through a series of gradually-more-perplexing, puzzle-filled floors, sprinkled with the occasional boss encounter to overcome. You control the main character, a precocious young girl named Vesta and her helpful robotic droid companion. Each has their own use and abilities in the game, and many times you'll need to have them partner up as well as split apart to solve the puzzles, roadblocks, and challenges put forth in their mutual paths.

The main goal of each floor in Vesta is to acquire power sources to charge nearby environmental objects such as doors, platforms, and escalators -- to name a few. The order of turning these objects on is important, as not to get stuck on the current level, thus having to restart the entire floor. (An annoying problem to be faced with in later floors when these levels take quite some time to solve only to have to begin them all over again from a mental misfire.) By the end of each floor, you need to have three power sources available to you to open up the elevator to the next level. This means carefully planning which power sources you take from different terminals in a way that you can still make it back to the exit of the floor with the required amount of power necessary to progress.

This is not the droid Vesta's looking for.
Both the girl and her robotic buddy have their own uses. For instance, the robot droid can pick up the girl and toss her across small chasms as well as fire missiles at enemies, temporarily stunning them. As the enemies are stunned, the little girl can quickly run in and acquire their power sources, not only defeating them but also accumulating yet another piece of power to be used on a terminal in the level. Meanwhile, the girl is much more mobile and smaller than her robotic counterpart, giving her the ability to enter small, narrow compartments of levels that the robot cannot fit through.

Aiming with Vesta's robotic buddy is less than amazing.
These unique abilities of both characters allow the level designers and creators to continually force players to split the girl and robot up for various interesting gameplay possibilities. Levels can get rather complicated and involved regarding what a given player needs to do to solve them, such as which door to open first, which power source to place in what terminal, and the order of events deemed necessary not only just to reach the goal but to reach the goal with the necessary amount of power cells. This is performed through creating clever shortcuts that allow one or both characters to bypass areas they otherwise would be unable to enter, or to craft new ways of making it around floors in order to lower the amount of power sources needed to get through the given level. It's rather smartly done and designed.

Now, while the levels and the puzzles that are packed throughout them are pleasantly designed to my pleasure, what isn't as well done in Vesta are the controls, which I deem a bit clunky in their execution. Many early deaths and level failures occurred from misjudged angles and less second errors with moving the control stick, ending up in seeing my floor progress wiped away in an instant. Sure, there are checkpoints on floors, but these few and faraway in-between. It makes wanting to hunt for secrets in levels unappealing when you perform the hard work of discovering them and collecting them, only to lose progress from a cheap, control or camera angle-related death, thus forcing you to acquire that floor's secrets once again.

If you're looking for visual variety, you won't really get it in Vesta.
More positively, I can say that Vesta is a pretty lovely looking game. You won't get a lot of bright colors from the game, as the majority of it takes place underground with darkened, earthy colors and subterranean sewer hues, but what color there is in the game is vivid enough. Animations don't go too far past the bare minimum, but what there is here is serviceable. On the other hand, I cannot tell you anything about the sound and music other than it is very forgettable -- hence why I couldn't tell you anything else about them. The noise is just there, and that's rather unfortunate.

Vesta won't make my list of must-have games for the year, but at the same time, this isometric puzzle-adventure game won't make my list of games to stay away from either. Simultaneously, it's not the worst and it's not the best game I've played so far in 2018. Like my opinion of the game's sound earlier in this review, Vesta is just there. It's neither overly special or abundantly awful. For a double-digit price, though, perhaps perspective players out there should seriously consider if a game that is just "average" is worthwhile enough or not.

[SPC Says: C]

Review copy provided by EastAsiaSoft.

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