For some reason there are a few genres that first time indie developers always seem to gravitate towards, be it because of budget, because of style or just for simplicity’s sake and the platformer genre is one of those that appear more often than not. Why? Well for a start, everybody and their mother pretty much knows what to expect when getting into a platformer – jump around, dodge a few baddies, collect a few shiny things and then reach an exit of sorts. It’s an incredibly simple layout to the point where anyone who’s ever touched a videogame can work out what to do from the first stage. Bearing that in mind, I decided to grab a random platformer off my Steam backlog for my first review.
With that flimsy excuse to review a platformer out of the way, let’s get started with Vanquish: The Adventures of Lady Exton, and sadly it’s just a total disappointment all-round. The storyline is incredibly basic to the point where it may as well not have been there (Lady Vanquish is kidnapped, Lady Vanquish breaks out and escapes while being chased. Fin) and the graphics are really on the basic side as well, with some rather stiff animation giving off the unfortunate impression that the titular Lady Vanquish has broken her arm in several places. The lack of polish and flair continues across every element of the game… which is a shame, because the actual colouring and artwork is pretty acceptable. With just a few extra graphical tweaks, it wouldn’t look so bad, but as it is, it’s just awkward and messy.
The biggest problem however is the general gameplay. The controls, while being on the ordinary side, feel stiff and at times totally unresponsive to input, which makes the game a serious chore thanks to the game later chucking precise jumps and messy enemy/trap placements all over the place, making for tense, frantic moments that just feel frustrating and irritating (Side note: I tested this game across two different computers with different versions of Windows and with both Xbox One controller and keyboard control to make sure the control issues were not on my own end). The game throwing pithy comments at you upon every single death only serves to infuriate you further. Enemy placement doesn’t work well either, with baddies stopping and changing directions seemingly at random, which makes gauging and anticipating AI movement a confusing chore.
Damage taken from enemies also feels odd, with enemies alternating between doing next to no damage at all, making it easier to just soak up any attacks and move on rather than battle, to them suddenly killing in a single hit. Oh, regarding battles though – the game does hand you one main attack in the form of an umbrella gun. It sounds nice in theory, but actually is nigh-on-useless thanks to shots often failing to register hits properly. It doesn’t help also that the bullets happen to be slow as molasses, which once again leads to a feeling of frustration over the game providing what I like to call ‘fake difficulty’.
Talking about fake difficulty, this also happens to extend into the very basics of the game itself. Just take a look at the above screenshot. Can you spot the platforms that fade away when you land on them? No? Neither did I. It’s the one just above the tree stump. Oh and the ones right after that also fade out after less than a second of standing on them. This is an issue that pops up time and time again where platforms or elements suddenly behave differently for no good reason, with no visual indicators, resulting in cheap death after cheap death.
It’s for all this and more that I cannot recommend Vanquish: The Adventures of Lady Exton at all. It just isn’t very fun, from the forgettable storyline, to the poor animation, to the unfair, unpolished, and buggy gameplay.
Vanquish: The Adventures of Lady Exton was developed by Runestone Studios
Point of sale: Steam, Google Play
$9.99/£6.99; An hour and a half of this makes James go crazy.
A review copy of Vanquish: The Adventures of Lady Exton was bought through an Indie Gala games bundle (which has since concluded).
James B is a terrible horrible video game hoarder to the point where if it wasn’t for digital distribution, he would be dead thanks to a game-box avalanche related accident. This horrible mass of games includes four farming simulators which is probably around four farming simulators too many.