That old saying about less being more doesn’t always prove to be true. Take recently released adventure game Vane for example. On paper it sounds like an engaging mystery that’s going to wow you with its vast landscapes and beautiful graphics. In reality it’s incredibly frustrating and you’re going to do well if you last longer than an hour or so playing it.
With no explanation or set-up, Vane launches you straight into the middle of a storm, which acts as the game’s Prologue. You take control of a child and your only aim is to run. By following the path, and avoiding the various ground collapses, you get the child to safety but you’re left none-the-wiser as to what you’re doing or why. As you prepare to find out more about the child you’ve been controlling, Act 1 throws you a complete curveball by putting you in control of a crow.
This is where the real frustration sets in. Vane has no interest in making your life easy and there’s no clue as to what you’re supposed to do. Instead you set off flying the crow around a vast desert landscape in the hope that you stumble upon something that makes sense. I spent a full hour flying around and achieving nothing. That in itself was frustrating but the difficult control system made matters worse. The crow isn’t easy to control and I crash-landed into the sandy ground more times than I’m willing to admit.
Once you get towards the end of Act 1 things start to make a little sense, or at least the relationship between the child and the crow is explained, but the game continues to refuse to help you. In order to get anywhere you need to be able to think randomly, have a lot of patience or have a handy walkthrough guide, like the one I was sent when I received my review copy of the game.
I understand, to some extent, what Friend & Foe were trying to achieve with Vane. They wanted to allow gamers to play free from restrictions and without having their hand held. Don’t get me wrong, I love a challenge but when there’s no rhyme or reason as to why you have to do the things you have to do, when you eventually figure it out it just feels like a big old frustrating mess.
Looking at the positives, the graphics are impressive. The vast landscapes and intricate locations are brought to life impressively. Save some annoying camera angles that hinder rather than help you, Vane really is very easy on the eye. Unfortunately that’s the only positive I found in the entire game.
If you like games with a strong story, characters you can sink your teeth into and clear objectives, Vane is most definitely not for you. If you like a ponderous experience that endlessly frustrates you and rewards you in no way whatsoever, you should probably get yourself a copy. The makers of the game were aiming for an atmospheric gaming experience but what they’ve delivered is one of the most frustrating games this gamer has ever played.
Publisher: Friend & Foe AB Developer: Friend & Foe AB Release date: 15th January 2019 Reviewed on: PS4