Genre: Dungeon Crawler / RPG
Game Page: Game On Steam
Should You Buy It: If you like Steampunk and/or enjoy Legend of Grimrock
About The Game
Vaporum is a grid-based dungeon crawler RPG in an original steampunk setting. It has this old-school dungeon crawling in first-person perspective. This is something you would encounter when playing the old Might and Magic games or the newer Legend of Grimrock series.
Your hero wakes up on an island in front of a mystic tower without any memory of who he is, what happened here and how he got here. Obviously, he decides to enter. That’s how the game begins.
Now, personally, the first thing I usually think about when I hear “dungeon-crawling” is turn-based, randomly generated level exploration. The game has neither: the levels are pre-defined and the combat happens in real time. The only thing that resembles turn-based gameplay is movement: you don’t get to move freely. Instead, the dungeon is split into tiles and you can move from tile to tile only. This constraint is done pretty seamlessly, so the movement limit won’t bother you.
As I mentioned, the fights are in real-time: monsters have attack patterns and abilities, which you can remember and use to your advantage. When fighting the simplest ones – you can simply “dance” by moving forward one tile to attack and back one tile when they attack you, avoiding damage this way. The harder ones tend to move less predictably or have ranged attacks – so dodging will require considerably higher game expertise. This is where the game actually shines: you have a classical RPG-like inventory and levelling system, but those stats (depending on your chosen difficulty) are only an addition to your mechanical play skills. On higher difficulties, you can’t simply stand on one place, hit enemies and then use healing items. You’ll simply run out of repair kits and die.
The strong part of the game is immersion: the sounds fit the dark tower atmosphere well. The lightning is just about right: darker tones that allow you to see where are you going, but still make you feel like you are in the tower of evil. The level design supplements that: in this case you see how pre-defined levels have a clear advantage over randomly-generated content. You’ll be getting notes, “diaries,” that drive the plot forward. You’ll be hearing creepy noises while trying to figure out what happened. Levers, switches, keys – those are essential parts of your crawling experience. The puzzles that tower presents you are not complicated, but will still dilute the combat and give you some rest.
The game was marketed as “Legend of Grimrock” in Steampunk universe and it’s pretty much correct. Unfortunately, that also includes the flaws with camera controls. Turning happens by pressing the Q/E keys or holding middle mouse key and then dragging the mouse towards new direction. This is OK for exploration and puzzle solving. But in the midst of battle, this adds another set of buttons that delay your actions. One obvious solution would be to allow turning during the battles without keyholding, but alas, it’s not there.
Despite the high production quality, Vaporum definitely won’t be for everyone. Personally I find the mix between tile mechanics and real-time combat a bit awkward, but that should not deter you from the experience. If you enjoyed Legend of Grimrock – you are going to enjoy this game too. And because of the great immersion and skill-based, difficult combat, I highly recommend the game to legend of grimrock fans and those of you who look for more games in steampunk setting.
Feature Image taken from the game store page, here