Posted by Greg Giddens
The great escape
Part of what makes escapeVektor so charming is how wonderfully simplistic it is. The title's Pac-Man-esque gameplay sees you navigating minimalistic mazes in order to open up an exit, all the while avoiding deadly traps that threaten to thwart your progress. It's a really basic idea, but despite its lack of complex mechanics, the digital download's perfect pacing and peculiar narrative culminate to create a refreshing and compelling puzzle game.
You take control of Vektor, a sentient computer program determined to escape from the evil CPU inside your handheld console. You must guide the triangular protagonist across as many straight lines as possible, unlocking the exit gate once you reach each stage's quota. There are 27 zones in total, each with multiple nodes (or levels) that resemble maps of circuitry. However, while your main objective is to traverse the mazes, the aforementioned computerised antagonist will recruit enemies and traps to block your way.
The maps grow in complexity as you progress, but this challenge is countered by the wide array of abilities that are available to unlock. Speed boosts, for example, allow you to out-run your pursuers, while bombs provide an explosive method to deal with your foes. To maintain the balance, you must earn the option to use these power-ups in each node – the speed boost is recharged by covering a complete line, while the bomb is augmented once you draw a square – which can lead to the levels feeling treacherous at first.
The majority of stages can be completed without having to travel the length of every line, but the temptation to fully explore each area is often too enticing to ignore. There's a remarkable amount of freedom to the manner in which you can approach each node, which provides plenty of replay value as you attempt to dominate the online leaderboards. Do you use your bombs to destroy as many enemies and traps as possible, or do you attempt to avoid everything in order to activate the exit in a faster time? Dying on the larger levels can be a bit frustrating, but not enough to totally detract from your enjoyment.
escapeVektor is an addictive title, and a great choice if you're in the market for a new PlayStation Vita puzzler. The accessible mechanics, smart pacing, and intriguing narrative make it a compelling option, even if it can get a touch frustrating towards the end.