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Review: Vessel for PC (via Steam)

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Title: Vessel
Price: $14.99
System(s): PC (Win)
Release Date: March 1, 2012
Publisher (Developer): indiePub (Strange Loop Games)
ESRB Rating: “Everyone”
Pros: Stunning visuals and great peaceful music, nicely flowing gameplay and unique puzzles and the Fluros are downright adorable.
Cons: Game begins slowly and you don’t get the backpack until almost two hours into the game. Puzzles are sometimes too easy and the game’s plot is a bit hard to follow.
Overall Score: One Thumb up and One Sideways; 85 out of 100; B; * * * ½ out of 5.

M. Arkwright has a new invention. The Fluro is a liquid automaton that has changed the way of factory production on a grand scale. Why hire faulty employees when you could instead create a Fluro to flawlessly operate your factory (plus if anything goes wrong, they are only liquid).

However, Arkwright isn’t done. He’s currently working on a building-sized creation known only as the accelerator. What is the purpose of this invention? Only time (or the end of the game) will tell.

Liquid Puzzling Action

Vessel is an indie side-scrolling puzzler. The main object is to get through the factory (or outside areas) by creating Fluros and allowing them to help you. You create these little liquid guys by using machines in the factory or a backpack filled with the liquid that you get later in the game.

The Fluros move around the area and try to step on any buttons you see so you can guide them around the room by pushing up buttons for them to step on. The buttons open important passageways or close others that are causing a problem. The Fluros will step on any they see whether you want them to or not so you have to use some strategy to time a plan the Fluros’ movements. You can also pick up certain Fluros and drop them where you need or also shoot them using the backpack.

Aside from jumping all over the place, Arkwright has a lot to do in each stage. He needs to activate the machines that create Fluros by grabbing and spinning wheels, pushing buttons and pulling levers. Some of these also help guide the Fluros around the stage or open up areas for them to go into. Sometimes Arkwright and the Fluros have to work together and push multiple buttons as well.

Fluros can be made out of anything liquid and even fire. Fire Fluros are harmful to you among other things, so you need to be careful when working with them. You will need to use your backpack to shoot the flames in the directions you need to use them or manipulate them other ways. You can also use pounding machines to squash them if they are in the way, which you can actually do with any Fluro.

As you are playing you can read Arkwright’s journal entries which give you an idea of why he is running around in these huge factories and so forth. If you want to be able to keep up with this game at all, then you should read it.

Arkwright and the Fluros!

The art of the game is very pretty and stylistic. It’s very fun to look at especially when you are riding around in a handcart around the factories. The Fluros are adorable (!) and fun to watch as well as they prance around the screen and drip liquid. The music of the game is very tranquil as well and adds a nice mood to the game.

One nice thing about the Fluros is that, since they are made of liquid, if you accidentally squash one, they can easily be made again or even repaired. In fact, sometimes you have to destroy them to complete a puzzle. You can also make several at a time.

One negative thing about this game is that it is very slow. Sometimes you will run from room to room without having any or a few puzzles to complete. Also there are times when you spend a huge chunk of time traveling via handcart through tunnels, which are fun to watch but slow. Also, I played the game for well over an hour before I even got the nifty backpack or saw the fire Fluros. I knew you got a backpack because if you look at the controls it shows how to use it, yet I never got one so I thought maybe I missed it or something. Also, if it weren’t for the journals, I would have no idea what the objective was in this game.

The puzzles are a bit easy at first, offering very little challenge. I spent the first half hour or so just doing logical things like pushing buttons and pulling levers before it got a bit more challenging (and before I had to really use the Fluros). Also I wanted to use the nifty backpack much sooner than I could.

Pretty and Imaginative!

Vessel is a unique and imaginative idea. It’s also very pretty to look at and has a nice (yet slow) flow to it. Creating and using liquid automatons is definitely not something you do much in games.

If you are a puzzle game fan and like visual rewarding games then you should check this out. Don’t expect much action in the beginning and plan to be confused about the plot for a good chunk of the game as well.

Site [Strange Loop Games]

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