It is a descendant of classic dungeons, where you march in squares, but the progress is not waiting for anyone, the shin, so everything takes place not in strokes, but in real time. Certainly a skilful way to spring up today’s old-fashioned game techniques, but despite all the ingenious ideas and successful sounding, the game spoils the ailments that make it difficult to immerse yourself here and there. Let’s break it down.
A dungeon that won’t wait
Lockdown is a sequel, or rather a story predecessor of the original Vaporum, but here lies the first problem: The creators from the Slovak studio Fatbot Games tell their plot in a relatively dozen ways. They came up with Ellie Teller, a scientist who continues her father’s work at the Arx Vaporum base in the middle of the ocean, where they explore the potential of a new substance called Fumium under the waves.
However, one day there is an accident due to the tremors, the complex turns against the locals and Ellie finds herself cut off from the others. And, of course, he has to get out of this mess. Along the way, he fights his way through several floors of the facility, has to orient himself in the tangle of local corridors and struggles with everything that lives and resides here, and it would be nice if Ellie was gone.
The combat system is fun, albeit specific – one must always keep in mind the fact that the movement of the characters takes place in a certain rhythm, but if he does not move, the enemies certainly do. It’s like a dance where you have to predict where only the stocky guy with the rifle will turn, so that it is possible to attack him from the side and ideally not suffer too large injuries.
And it’s not just a guy. There are also flocks of mutated rats lurking around you, which easily surround you, or, for example, drones that shoot rockets and have a laser mounted, so it is not enough to just stand far away, you need to stay out of sight. The difficulty of the skirmishes can be adjusted at any time – at higher levels it is a solidly tough challenge for all supporters of orthodox RPGs, the lower ones allow even the younger or less familiar to pass through the game. Direct.
Overcome and solve
Advancing through the Arx Vaporum corridors and fighting enemies will give you an experience that can improve the qualities of Ellie’s exo-suit. Our heroine will come across it right from the start of the game, and through it you will place points into everything you can imagine in hero games – into strength, shields, handling weapons and so on.
The tools are waiting for you scattered around the base, most often in chests. They are recruited from close range, whether it is a one-handed sword or a two-handed mallet, and firearms, say a laser cannon or musket. However, the tightness of the inventory does not allow to drag any armory, even if it is filled with ammunition and some special bonuses that immobilize or burn enemies.
As important as combat is solving puzzles and overcoming logical obstacles, which must not be missing in any stepping dungeon. They evaluate their invention, say, slightly above average. They are not terribly imaginative, but they make you think about what he should do at what stage.
A large part of them are categories of puzzles, which do not rely on that eureka the moment when all the pieces fit together. It’s more about observing, learning the desired procedure and accurate execution. The game, for example, flies through dozens of electric shocks, which must be properly directed into the receiver to open the hitherto closed door.
In terms of difficulty, the puzzles are set relatively fairly, although I remember one or two hot moments. But I didn’t come across the downright goofy sours I experienced in the swamps of Bran Skeldal, for example: 7 magicians.
If the prequel Vaporum excels in something, it is in the atmosphere it can evoke. I understand that the local steampunk nooks no longer enchant anyone today, but with proper music and, above all, sharp sound effects, they will bring a good dose of nervousness, inhospitability, insecurity. Steampunk tuning successfully complements places like distilled from BioShock, underwater gardens and laboratories. Although the graphic level won’t impress, everything is done with attention to detail, and the rattling and rattling still adds a feeling of mysterious dread.
But the artistic design cannot be praised, as Vaporum: Lockdown is often cheap and sold. Of course, no one deserves ridicule for developing the title in a few people slowly on their knees, even more so in small Slovakia. But it is simply necessary to acknowledge that other games have done better, whether the so-called Skeldal Gates or the famous Legend of Grimrock.
For example, there are only a few story movies here, but be that, it would probably be too expensive. The problem is rather that each of the characters, which you don’t even see properly, is deepened by up to two pitched sentences, which pretend to be some kind of background. You will get the most significant portions of characterization through audio diaries, but these do not enrich the plot in any way and serve more as a semi-tutorial or recordings of a few pseudo-interesting phenomena and phenomena from this world. Slim liveliness.
The problem is also that the underwater complex does not look logical and coherent. After all, the Arx is supposed to be a research institute, so how on earth did all the pitfalls, led by foot-traps, bayonets, fire-fighting torches and pits, come from there? In some places, the game tries to shed light on some of this for humorous reasons, when there are records of a former employee who liked to collect bricks, so you can now load the loading platforms with them, but there is little, very little.
The Vaporum is plank for this, especially in animations. I understand, we are still talking about the dungeon, but the competition showed something a few orders of magnitude better, and the Skeldal Gates were released years ago on mobile platforms as well. Lockdown, however, is only available on PC and Nintendo Switch. It probably suits the Nintendo console best, but there you can’t control the movement of the squares with a D-pad, only analogues.
I’ve played better
Will Vaporum: Lockdown satisfy fans of the genre? Certainly, it relies on a useful background, on an interesting action-tactical gameplay. It’s just a pity that Fatbot Games created a somewhat bloodless, untouched affair, which clearly shows that it could have been much better. But again, it will cost a few hundred crowns, so basically anyone can try it.