Vaporum (PS4) – Review
Follow Genre: Real-time turn-based dungeon crawler
Developer: Fatbot Games, s. r. o.
Publisher: Fatbot Games, s. r. o.
Platform: PS4, PC, Switch, Linux, Mac
Tested on: PS4

Vaporum (PS4) – Review

Site Score
7.8
Good: Atmospheric steampunk mystery, multiple combat options
Bad: Poor controls layout, no autosave, fighting can feel weird
User Score
8.3
(4 votes)
Click to vote
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Rating: 8.3/10 (4 votes cast)

Steampunk has been a popular style ever since Lovecraft made his works, and maybe even before that. Adapted by series, novels, games, and cosplayers, it’s a unique style that holds enchantment and fascination thanks to the impossible stories and the design that can almost make you smell the cogwheels around you. Vaporum has adapted this concept into a 3D dungeon crawler with predetermined levels, and it sure is Steampunk at least.

Story

You play as a man who has forgotten everything that previously happened up to the moment he wakes up on some rocks. Upon opening his eyes, he discovers what he calls a ”monster”, a giant tower crafted from various metal resources. Entering the tower, it seems to be empty, at least of any other human life. What he does find are some machines that attack him, contraptions, and some signs¬†of previous human life such as lockers which sometimes still have stuff inside. Other than that, it’s a long road to discover what actually happened in the tower. On your way, the main thing that will help you are readable letters and audible records from previous inhabitants, and sometimes the protagonist will share his thoughts out loud.

Graphics

Vaporum has its own neat little style, which is why it calls itself a ‘Steampunk Dungeon Crawler”. Most, if not all of the environment you come across is made with steel pipes and slamming iron doors. The enemies, they are mostly mechanic and a bit magical as well. There’s a certain atmosphere of a maze without daylight in Vaporum cause.. well, that’s what it is. There are not many different models used for the walls and props, but this game can handle it somehow. Probably because of the plain, cold feeling that metal brings with it. It’s surprisingly simple, but with the right level layout and lighting, and a little variation, it goes a long way.

Sound

The first thing you might notice while playing is that this game actually has no background music. What it does have is ambient sounds like a soft howling through the hallow halls because of hydraulic pumps and such that are doing their work throughout the levels. Other than that you got the footsteps, the echoes of sounds, the sounds creatures and machines make, and it’s all done pretty well actually. The absence of music is something that enhances the rest, making it a proper experience that’s, at least, steampunk worthy. The narrated voices of the protagonist and audio records are a nice extra, making the game not only more alive but you less alone.

Gameplay

Vaporum could be best described as a combination of turn-based gameplay and real-time action. The game is set up as a dungeon crawler. Altogether this means that you are moving in real-time on a grid-like floor where you and enemies take one step at a time or stand still to attack. You can move in all four directions with one stick and turn around with the other one. Basically, it’s like every turn is an average of a second. This means if you don’t do anything for let’s say, seven seconds, the enemy will have had the option to attack you seven times by now. That’s what makes it real-time. Sometimes this goes a bit too fast, especially with the controls that can ask you to press two buttons simultaneously. The game has got you covered though (if you press two buttons simultaneously to initiate this) by slowing time down to an absolute stop to think about what you want to do next or i.e. select something from your inventory.

The game offers you a variety of options to fight. First of all, you have an exo-suit that, depending on what you picked, slightly determines your play style. It might be more offensive, defensive or supportive, and you have ranged weapons, melee weapons and suit modifications that enhance your play style a bit more with area of effect attacks, elemental defense, a temporary boost to melee speed and more like it. They could be seen as interchangeable skills that have a cooldown and cost energy which is the second important resource next to your health.

If you are not fighting you are probably walking around solving a puzzle or trying to find where to go next and what’s going on. It’s a play style very similar to a game such as Legend of Grimrock,¬†yet is not as complex in its level design, which for one person can be a blessing and for somebody else it can be boring. Vaporum doesn’t feel as fluid as the named example thanks to the button layouts and the rather static way of moving around. You can dodge attacks when timing it well with walking and strafing to a different space as an enemy is about to attack, but because of the weird limit in motion connected to the turn-based time, it sometimes feels more like dancing around to avoid getting hit. Oh, and don’t forget to save your game. Clearing an entire floor to die and remember the game has no autosave function will suck. A lot.

Conclusion

Vaporum has a good, mysterious atmosphere that keeps you going most of the time. Despite it not being as complex as it could have been in its level design, the combat options and a couple of puzzles offer enough entertainment. The controls, lack of autosave and fighting motions are more annoying but not as much that they withhold you from having fun or actually finishing a proper playthrough. It’s a decent game that could keep you busy for at least a while.

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Rating: 8.3/10 (4 votes cast)
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Rating: 0 (from 0 votes)
Vaporum (PS4) - Review, 8.3 out of 10 based on 4 ratings
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Find me on youtube to see some playthroughs! https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCuBrlulGywcb0EiYWBnA1ng

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