Vesta Review

By Marc Hollinshead,
A good puzzler is always refreshing for a gamer who wishes to get their brain whirring when sitting comfortably in front of their TV. From hardcore mind-bending titles to the more casual affair, there's something for all skill types. ID@Xbox's latest foray into the genre sees Vesta coming onto the scene. This healthy mix between platformer and puzzler brings to light some interesting challenges but it is slightly hindered by the occasionally awkward handling of its controls.

1

Far off in the Andromeda galaxy, a little girl aptly named Vesta awakes in an abandoned complex full of machinery and robots. These robots are the only form of companionship that she has seemingly ever known, but Vesta is still inquisitive nonetheless and is eager to search for clues in regards to what happened to those who originally inhabited the humongous facility. With a giant droid who assists her on the mission, as well as her "Bot", Vesta is to traverse through the various environmental traps and labyrinths until she arrives at M.U.M, the supreme intelligence that helps to run the complex.

For a while, that is all the information you apparently need in motivating you to progress up the many floors. The story is often ambiguous at best, only posing more questions as you explore the various consoles and talk to the malfunctioning robots that are strewn across the ground. It is merely a method in providing context for the events that take place within the game. It is a serviceable story, and each chapter begins with a quirky comic-book style storyboard that adds a little more character to the voiceless Vesta.

There are more riveting conversations to be found, trust me.There are more riveting conversations to be found, trust me.

Vesta harbours four chapters, with nine levels lying within each of those chapters. Early in the game, you are introduced to the fundamental abilities that are required to successfully complete a level, but you'll soon discover that those abilities need to be used in radical new ways the further you go in order to be triumphant. Starting with Vesta herself, her main ability comes in the form of shifting energy to different power sources. She is essentially a moving battery, provided she has enough power. She is also able to go through small tunnels to access areas that the droid is unable to reach. This means that she is incredibly fragile, so with one hit from an enemy she's toast.

The droid, on the other hand, is Vesta's polar opposite. His large frame means that he can take a few extra hits, and he is also equipped with a rocket launcher to obliterate obstacles. The majority of those obstacles are the enemies that are scattered across the levels, using multiple means to vanquish the duo. A quick rocket to the face will stun any foe for a short time, opening up an opportunity for Vesta to come and steal their energy, vanquishing them for good. It's a good example of how well the pairing works together. Every level makes them both equally useful, so you will constantly be finding a way to utilise each of their skills.

On her own, Vesta is rendered useless against pretty much anything that moves.On her own, Vesta is rendered useless against pretty much anything that moves.

As a fitting finale for each chapter, a boss fight will ensue. Again, these puzzle-like fights will need you to manage both Vesta and the droid, culminating the encounter into a process of rocket-based onslaught from a distance and up-close energy draining until the machine is no more. Keeping the two characters out of danger simultaneously can be tricky at times, but practice makes perfect. Each boss isn't infuriatingly challenging, but quick reflexes are rewarded, as well as keeping the two relatively close to each other.

As you go through level after level, you'll soon realise that the main challenge comes in managing the distribution of energy between the environment and Vesta. You may need to bring the droid along a moving platform while also having another door open, for example. This is made even tougher with the fact that Vesta will regularly be required to bring three doses of energy with her to activate the elevator at the end of each level. This means that you will need to actively remember to keep tabs on where every clump of energy is stored, taking any possible bits with you to the end. It can feel like a juggling act when also taking the two characters into account, but there's always a sigh of relief once another level is conquered.

Where's our droid friend? Oh that's right, he's on a platform on the other side of the level unable to move.Where's our droid friend? Oh that's right, he's on a platform on the other side of the level unable to move.

Vesta is a fun title, but you can often be left feeling frustrated with the controls and game mechanics. Everything works on paper and isn't broken, as such, but with extra tweaking it could have been executed with greater results. For example, the droid's shooting ability is a lifesaver in every level, but he feels like a malfunctioning turret at times and can only aim at specific angles. Manoeuvrability isn't his strongest point, and it has even ended with Vetra's death because of his clumsiness. Furthermore, the droid is able to pick up and throw Vesta to places she is otherwise unable to reach, but throwing her is all he can do when he takes hold and not simply place her beside him to keep them together. When controlling the duo in separate areas within a level, they work just fine, but when put together, the game can feel clunky and clumsy as you desperately try to keep them out of harm's way and no less than ten feet apart.

What is thankfully less frustrating than anything else in the game is its achievements. As you naturally progress through Vesta, you will snap up the majority of the 21 achievements without much of a second thought. The only one of which to take note is for finding all secrets. These little items are small cogs that are hidden in crates or far corners of a level. If you don't simply aim to rush to the end of a chapter and explore a little instead, you should be able to find a large bunch of them. Fortunately the game also saves a secret permanently once you grab it, which means death or quitting out won't require you to start afresh. Even with this achievement in mind, it's a simple list that is perfectly doable.

Summary

Vesta is a quaint title that provides suitably challenging environmental puzzles for those who decide to take a shot at it. The story isn't anything special, but the gameplay is more than enough to keep you playing. Despite this, you may still find yourself getting needlessly frustrated at a few deaths due to the awkward controls that occasionally bubble to the surface. When everything works as intended, though, Vesta and the droid work well together, allowing you to comfortably test your brain to a satisfactory degree.
3 / 5
Vesta
Positives
  • Vesta and the droid evenly matched in their usefulness
  • Suitably challenging puzzles for all player types
Negatives
  • Clunky controls feel intrusive to the overall experience
  • Story is somewhat ambiguous at times
Ethics
The reviewer spent five hours meandering through the mechanical complex and dying far too much because of his own stupidity. 17 of the game's achievements were earned in the process. An Xbox One code for the title was provided by the developer for the purpose of this review.
Marc Hollinshead
Written by Marc Hollinshead
To summarize Marc in two words, it would be "Christian Gamer." You will usually find him getting stuck into story heavy action-adventure games, RPG's and the odd quirky title when he isn't raving about Dark Souls and Mass Effect. Outside the world of gaming, Marc attends and helps out in his church on a regular basis and has a not-so thrilling job in a supermarket.