First Impression: Vessel (PC)

While I am still playing Darksiders, I continue to pick my demos PC... and this week this game dropped on Steam. I have to admit I wasn't sure about the title, though. After all, it wouldn't be the first sidescrolling puzzle indie game to draw my attention, and the last one was just as unique in concept. In fact, the trailer suggested you would control "liquid robots" in probably a similar fashion as you controlled "time clones" of yourself in that other title. Still, the idea of such an invention struck me as interesting enough to give this game a download... and I have to say, I the fear of being burned again seems... out of place, somehow.

In Vessel, you play an inventor who created a new kind of robot made out of liquid. Cheap and adaptable, they are simply a scientific marvel. But they are also proving a little bit unpredictable, as one of your new inventions locks you out of your lab. Understanding it is malfunctioning, you go to get your equipment and deal with the issue. But of course, when you make something this advanced, it may well do things you did not plan on.... such as build more cores and multiply, or adapt them... evolving to to take more different and potentially dangerous forms.

The game is played from a side-scrolling perspective and takes the form of a half-puzzle/half-platform game. You will roam the lab (and your house) completing each room to move onto the next. To do so, you will have two basic tools: seeds and a liquid-vac. The vacume is basically a water gun with a tub on your back. Vaccume liquids to load it up and fire whatever you have stored on your back. But far more interesting are the seeds. Once you collect one, it's kind is always available to you. They will effect any liquid in the area and potentially absorb enough to become one of these machines. What it will do depends entirely on where you do this, leaving you free to control your character alone, but they will help you solve your puzzles.

Being a side scroller, I opted to use my 360 controller to play with this game, and it felt very natural on it. One stick was used to control my movement, the other how I aim the liquid-vac. Then it was a simple platform natural controls you could expect any game to accommodate and with perfect smoothness... and you will need it. When this game decides to get hard, it get's HARD... fast. In the demo, I faced a room of molten metal pouring down conveyor belts which will burn you on contact, but you better get up to the top to finish the room and continue the game. This will involve balancing your use of seeds (which will attract the molten liquid even if it's in your hand so be ware) and pouring water to cool it down.

This may not sound so rough, until you realize this game was designed around an engine for liquid physics that makes everything flow like, well, like a liquid... so you will need to react to the kind of timing of liquid molten metal instead of say, a predictable pattern. It might get easier with time and experience, but sadly, this demo will be over before you can get that.

And the fact that Im calling that sadly is probably a good indication of the promise this game holds. I just wish I could have had more to confirm it. As it stands, I highly recommend downloading this demo and giving it a look yourself. As for me, this seems like a "steam sale" game... simply because I see and want the potential, but I don't believe it gave me enough to really know it will be great and not squander what it could be.

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