Author Topic: Vidar: Demo review  (Read 2144 times)

Jubal

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Vidar: Demo review
« on: February 08, 2015, 11:42:16 PM »
Vidar: Demo Version Review

Game type: Free demo
Genre: Puzzle/Adventure

So, Vidar. It's a name I've been seeing on my twitter feeds a lot recently, and it turns out there are good reasons for that. The basics are that it's a puzzle/adventure game set in a hollowed-out town; the population is dwindling, mysterious deaths are killing off the remaining people - and not only that, it's the middle of winter and the snow is continuing to pile up... as the mysterious Stranger, you must head into the caves beneath the town and complete various puzzles/quests. These, and the characters and their interactions and deaths, define your eventual path towards victory or defeat.

Firstly, gameplay. This is very well done. The dungeon levels play out very well with mazes and puzzle sections that are good quality and mechanically neat and interesting. Interacting with characters and objects was easy and simple, and a good range of basic puzzle techniques were involved (mazes, lever puzzles, etc etc). Timers on the levels give you about the right length of time to do what you need to (the imp puzzle was quite comfortable for time, the amulet/ghost was timed fairly close to what was needed providing more of a challenge). The ice puzzles in the demo worked well; a greater variety will obviously be needed in the full version, but even with the limited number of demo mechanics the range and complexity of puzzles varied nicely.

There are a few niggles I'd give, which will go here between the gameplay and background sections, though hopefully these will be ironed out anyway and some may just be me.
  • The voiceover at the beginning has an accent that grates on me; not sure why, I think it's just the juxtaposition of a voice that sounds very modern, metropolitan, and American with a setting that feels a bit rougher and more fantasy.
  • A game speed control would be good, or an option to run. Plodding around the town feels a bit slow, though perhaps it's meant to.
  • If there's an inventory button, I couldn't find it - that would've been nice!
  • Ditto some sort of quest log, I wasn't wholly sure what I was supposed to be doing with Bernadette's quest (though the chatty poetic ghost was great, I was really sad when he left me to go back to his grave).
  • I'm hoping some of the higher level sections will have more challenging puzzle gaming; I'd rate most of what was there at medium.
These are very, very minor issues, though, with what is clearly shaping up to be a very good game. The hands-on gameplay, though, isn't Vidar's real selling point - it's how it interacts with the plotline. The NPCs interact with one another and react to one another's deaths in a dynamic fashion, with the plot of the game altering each time as different NPCs die in a different order and their deaths lose different skills for the town or cause the survivors to behave in a certain way. The world has a good feel of depth, with snippets of text in books giving snatches of what feels like an old, dark, northern European style setting. The pixel graphics are very nicely done, and are crucial to the game's feel; it's not unrelentingly, realistically dark, but it manages to conjure up well the images of a world in peril with snow piling up. It's the gaming equivalent of storytelling around a fire; the story manages to be both an adventure to comfortingly far-off worlds, and nonetheless remain presence and urgency. The gameplay should make Vidar fun, but it's the application of interesting mechanics to the plotline itself that I think makes it near-unique and gives the game its soul.

For a demo version, I was very impressed with this. Overall I'd very much encourage anyone who likes storyline-heavy games, puzzles, adventure games, or all of the above to give Vidar a go - and importantly, since the KickStarter is still going, to give it a chance.



The Vidar Kickstarter is here: https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/1478407710/vidar-an-rpg-puzzler-where-everyone-dies
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razavidn

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Re: Vidar: Demo review
« Reply #1 on: February 09, 2015, 05:32:30 AM »
Hey Jubal!

Thanks so much for the enthusiastic review! Hopefully I can assuage some of your concerns:

* Sprint shoes, quest journal, and a whole bunch more are all quest rewards. Basically, that's what ties the quests back into the cave - all of the rewards are designed to help you go through the puzzles faster. There are also things like campfires which allow you to spend more time in the cave, loaves of bread which you give you a few extra minutes that day, waypoints, a minimap, all sorts of stuff. However, since you won't see all the quests (someone's gotta die the first night) you won't get *all* the tools. Which ones you get will change from game to game! In this way, think of a lot of modern rogue-likes where the powerups you find in the dungeon are random, and you have your fingers crossed for that really good one on the first level. Here, you have your fingers crossed that Bernadett doesn't die before you get those sprint shoes.

* In terms of difficulty, I'm glad you felt it was medium because you saw medium! There are some easier tutorial-like puzzles before it, but I didn't include them in the demo cuz tutorials are for suckers.

All of the feedback is tremendously appreciated, and thanks so much for spreading the word!