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YODA For Christmas

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Posted by GG Goblin On January - 29 - 2019

A stunning looking PS4 exclusive, with more than a few problems.

I like to be told what to do. Not in real life, I would be more likely to do the opposite just because. But in a video game, I like a clear objective, some kind of guidance as to what I am supposed to be doing or where I am going. In some games, the player is left to work out what is going on for themselves, piecing things together from small tidbits found during their exploration. That type of game is okay, but not ideal. I would rather the game tells me where to go, or at least what to look for and what to do. At the very least, I would like to be told why. Friend & Foe’s Vane on PS4 pretty much does none of that, leaving the player entirely to their own devices. The sad thing is that this lack of direction, which may well be appealing to some gamers, is not the biggest problem that this adventure game faces.

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The game begins with some kind of catastrophe through which a small figure is carrying a shiny package, trying to reach some kind of safety. This is pretty much all of the set up that the player will get, and to be honest it looks interesting. But then, without any further to do, the play moves to controlling a black bird above a canyon-filled desert landscape. There are strange, derelict structures dotted about, which are actually integral to what the player has to do next. Not that you are told. Okay, I’m getting over it.

This section of the game will see the player landing on these structures to activate wind socks. Flying around the beautiful landscape is an absolute joy, made even more so by the stunning visuals and ambient soundtrack. Doing anything other than flying around, such as landing on the structures, is a little more clumsy, but it all works. Once enough wind socks have been activated, the player will be able to experience one of the main gameplay tricks, in which the black bird can turn into a young child. This transformation, from bird to child and back, will feature throughout the game to varying degrees, with each different character having different abilities that will be needed to proceed. The bird can obviously fly, which is handy when large drops are found, and the child can open doors or activate levers.

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The child moves slowly along the ground and again the lack of direction raises its head as the player can find themselves wandering in the wrong direction, slowly, far too often. Light puzzles present themselves to be solved by the child, and there will be a certain amount of climbing. The game doesn’t do a good job of showing what is and what isn’t possible, such as which areas can be climbed and which can’t, which can be frustrating. This, with the slow movement, can make entire sequences feel like they outstay their welcome.

It sounds like everything is negative about the game, but Vane has a beauty that really makes the player want to explore, and reach the end to hopefully get some context to their adventure. Swapping between the two character forms, and the different ways in which the environments change in front of the players eyes, open the world up for the player to enjoy. There is a sense of isolation in this world, with vast, empty distances and derelict structures or foreboding caves. It is a very good looking game.

But then I have to go back to the negative aspects. The game is split into chapters, and will only take most players around five or six hours to complete. This in itself is not a bad thing, but the is riddled with bugs and glitches that can make that five or six hours far more arduous than is enjoyable. The checkpoints in the game are infrequent, and so players that come across bugs where they may get stuck in their surroundings, or other game breaking bugs, can find themselves having to redo massive sections of the game. Outside of these big bugs, there are plenty of lesser annoyances, such as a struggling frame rate or frequent clipping, that further sour the experience.

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Vane has some great ideas, and is a very pretty game outside of the bugs. In time, the bugs could be patched and fixed, which will certainly help. However, the game as a whole feels unrealised, with the great ideas failing to pan out into a memorable experience. And the complete lack of explanation will be enough to turn a lot of players away. With all of that said, those who place visual beauty and complete freedom above all else, and are willing to overlook the current glitches and bugs, may well find some enjoyment in Vane.




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