escapeVektor Review (3DS)

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escapeVektor originally surfaced on the WiiWare service in September 2011 as Chapter 1 of a planned four chapter episodic release. However, the decision was made by developer Nnooo to package all four chapters together and release it on the 3DS Nintendo eShop (and PSVita) as a complete version.

escapeVektor_ss1escapeVektor tells the story of an expert coder – known as Vektor – that has been trapped inside the Central Processing Unit (CPU) of your Nintendo 3DS, and it’s your job to help him escape. How did Vektor get trapped in the CPU? Well, as you progress through the game you’ll uncover new details about his fate. These details will come in the form of jogged memories after completing certain nodes. The story is light, but learning about Vektor’s past is quite interesting.

To help Vektor escape you must complete nodes (or levels if you wish) by filling in white circuit lines to border and complete cells to open the exit. There are 150 nodes to complete in the game across 27 zones (or worlds) and of course, four chapters. Eighteen of these zones make up the main story with the other nine being bonus zones. Some nodes will have additional areas to complete outside of the main structure. These areas typically appear after finding the original exit and will lead to new nodes, bonus zones, and may even warp you to higher-up zones.

Filling out a node’s circuit lines is easily done by just passing over them. You control Vektor’s direction with the Circle Pad or D-Pad. Most of escapeVektor takes place on the 3D screen, but the view is mostly zoomed in with a tiny bit of the board viewable on the touchscreen. Luckily, you can press and hold R to get a pulled back view that will let you see more of your surroundings. This will be critical when there are lots of enemies on the board.

Vektor will also gain which are needed to overcome obstacles and enemies which is something that becomes necessary in later levels. These abilities include an explosion that will destroy nearby enemies, two boosts that will let you move much faster, and Boostenate, an explosive boost that can be used to plow through enemies. These abilities are triggered by pressing the face buttons.

You’ll gain abilities when Vektor upgrades to his newest version. You can expand the blast radius from your explosion, gain more Detonation Pips, and gain more boost power. You have a limited amount of both abilities to use in each level, but you can refill both by claiming circuits and cells. To upgrade, you must fill up an experience meter by getting high scores; the better your score, the more experience you gain. Vektor will cease upgrading once he reaches Version 25.

escapeVektor_ss12On the surface, escapeVektor seems like a simple game, but it has plenty of depth, especially when it comes to the scoring mechanic. As you claim circuit lines in each node, you’ll start to gain points. You’ll also get points for destroying enemies and claiming cells. You can claim cells by using the detonation ability, but you’ll get a higher score if you hold off and claim at the end of each node. escapeVektor also has a competitive side thanks to its brilliant leaderboards.

Leaderboards are displayed before and after each node and can be filtered into three groups: local, friends, and competitors. The leaderboard will load on the touchscreen and gives you an extra incentive to beat the high-score. Wildcards are new to this iteration of escapeVektor and will double your score if you choose to use one before starting a level. You’ll lose it forever if you fail, but you can always get a new one by besting your personal score for the node. I know that I’ve felt driven to improve my scores and will come back to compete against the best in the months to come.

escapeVektor is a challenging game, and that goes for both completing the story mode and getting high-scores. It’s a fun ride that is filled with a lot of action, which surprised me a little. I came in expecting a standard puzzle/arcade concept, but was blown away by the action and excitement of narrowly escaping enemies and making critical impulse maneuvers. The game is full of tense moments and it makes for an enjoyable experience overall.

escapeVektor_ss6Once you complete the main mode there is still a lot to do in escapeVektor. You can get Bronze, Silver, Gold, and Platinum medals for your performance on each node, plus there are achievement-like badges that can be unlocked for completing specific tasks. Also, there are the nine bonus zones which are comprised of remixed nodes from the main game.

Bonus nodes can force you to race against a timer, or pit you against yourself in Eraser Mode. Eraser Mode challenges you to complete lines and cells, but you’ll erase previously traveled lines if you cross them a second time. Both modes are challenging and will ultimately help you become better at the game. Some of these nodes combine both the timer and eraser rules to create an extremely challenging level.

In addition to escapeVektor’s fantastic gameplay, it’s also a gorgeous game. Its presentation is outstanding and perfectly blends colors and minimalist visuals. This can be said of the level design, the menus and overworld map; yes, escapeVektor has overworld maps. escapeVektor also has good 3D visuals that feature a nice combo of depth and pop-out. Its soundtrack is not only good, but actually quite outstanding. There’s a futuristic, high-tech, upbeat vibe in every track featured throughout the game. Nnooo also remixes some of escapeVektor’s early tracks in later levels which is a welcomed touch.

Final Thoughts:

escapeVektor is another example of greatness that can be found on the Nintendo eShop. It has outstanding, addicting, and challenging gameplay mixed with competitive and intelligent leaderboards. Nnooo is no stranger to style either as the game is one of the most well-presented visually on the Nintendo eShop. For $9.99 you get a great game with about eight to nine hours of gameplay for the main story, and an unlimited amount of replay value for besting high-scores, earning badges and medals, and conquering bonus zones. I’d recommended this game to anyone that likes arcade, puzzle, action, and/or unique indie titles.

9.5/10

Obtained a Review Copy

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