In 2019, Fatbot Games released the original Vaporum. Not knowing what to expect from this unknown IP, I was pleasantly surprised by the addictive 1st person grid-based gameplay. Vaporum – Lockdown is a sequel but takes place before the events of the first game even though gameplay is almost identical.
Playing as a daughter looking for her lost scientist of a Father, the player needs to navigate a subterranean dungeon from a first person perspective. The important difference is the grid-based navigation and control scheme. Each press in the forward direction walks exactly one step forward. Tapping the right direction, for example, side steps to the right. Need to face right? Then click the right shoulder button. Movement might sound tedious on paper but it works well since the entire game is designed around this very specific form of movement. Battles, puzzles, and traps all occur in real time though so fighting and avoiding obstacles can feel like a ballet dance at times.
Lockdown is almost identical as the original release and basically feels like DLC – here is the same game just more of it. The swipe-dance-swipe combat, map filling navigation, and dropping bricks on pressure plate puzzles all return. Lockdown’s biggest flaw is it doesn’t attempt anything new even though the dungeon crawling formula of navigating a puzzle-filled claustrophobic environment, collecting tons of loot, and attacking creepy creatures with a steampunk aesthetic is solid and unexpectantly addicting.
The gloomy environments always convey a sense of dread but it never becomes a horror game. Instead, the damp metal grated flooring and dimly lit set pieces always remind the player where they are – trapped in an undersea box. The voice acting is hit and miss and I wish the auto save feature happened more frequently (stepping into a bed of spikes because you didn’t see the missing floor area from the dark stage design after playing for 15 minutes is infuriating).
Even though there is a learning curve with the complicated control scheme and UI, this is a dungeon crawling expedition that is addictive even though it is more of the same. If you didn’t play the original release, don’t feel like you are going to be lost with this latest release either. The enthralling gameplay vastly overshadows the narrative anyway.
Also available on PC.
Also Try: the Etrian Odyssey games on 3DS
Better Than: you would assume a dungeon crawler to be
Wait For It: Vaporum – Hello Kitty in Fluffyland Edition