Thursday, March 9, 2017

Indie Impressions - Vaccine


Now Available on Steam (Also on PS4, XboxOne and WiiU)

Developed by Rainy Night Creations 



The dimly lit old hallways of a broken and rustic mansion-like home set the stage for an experiment gone wrong. A strange virus turns regular human beings into twisted creatures, thirsty for the flesh of their once friendly counterparts and only one vaccine exists among the hordes of turned zombies. It's a story we've heard before many times and a genre we've seen perfected already, and Vaccine seeks to shake the scene up a bit with the procedurally generated levels and items made popular by the roguelike genre. 

What were once long and involved journeys of narrative filler are now quick and adrenaline pumping runs through a 30 minute or less roguelike horror adventure. It might not be the same engaging story or refined gameplay we know from Resident Evil, but Vaccine creates a frightening DIY vibe of its own that is worth the trip.

It also has the difficulty of a genuinely old school and retro survival horror game. Everything you loved and loathed about the classics is here, from the clunky and cumbersome tank controls to the hard to manage limited item space that required planning. Every challenging and confusing imperfection in the game's design is almost definitely deliberate in order to keep in fashion with the originators it pays its homage to. Rainy Night Creations has the aesthetics and atmosphere of a 90's era survival horror down pat, and gives us an authentic trip down memory lane in both visuals and frustrating challenge.

Later enemies become seriously deranged and grotesque, and much harder to take down and dangerous. Anything you come across that isn't a zombie or a rat basically will require some serious firepower and a decent amount of ammo. The knife isn't really good at much other than conserving ammo, and even when confronting zombies I had to continually back up to avoid early and embarrassing deaths. From rats and bats, to zombies and.. freaky crawling flesh dudes, Vaccine has plenty of grotesque oddities to die to.

When it comes down to it luck is your greatest ally in Vaccine as the trick to having a truly excellent run is having good enough chances to find the randomly places items as early as possible, because honestly if you run into one of those flesh-y crawly creatures without ammo or a gun you can kiss your ass goodbye. This isn't uncommon with games of a procedural 'roguelite' style, and it isn't to say that Vaccine doesn't still require some skillful gunplay and careful consideration with stat distribution.

An addictively quick "coffee-break" take on the survival horrors of old. The rogue-lite twist of having a whole mansion that is procedurally generated along with the location of important key items and equipment keeps each quick playthrough exciting and unpredictable. Many of your runs for the life-saving vaccine will end quickly and humiliating as you die to stupid mistakes and oversights, but when you make it further and finally reach that destination it couldn't feel more rewarding. Vaccine is a clever execution of a very ambitious idea, and it deserves a play from veterans of the survival horror genre.

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