by Carston Anderson
reviewed on PC
At the Doors of Hell
Vapour puts you in the shoes of an incredibly foul mouthed man known only as “Charles” who has had the misfortune of being captured, brutally tortured and then summarily executed by a sadistic cult hellbent on global domination and immortality. But, luckily for you, Charles is an incredibly powerful warlock who uses the last of his strength to avoid total damnation. You’re still damned and sent to the border of hell and purgatory but you’re not totally damned, so take solace in that.
I’ve always hated horror games. I almost cried when I sat down to play Dead Space as a young grade schooler and at a recent graduation party I opened a closet door only to scare myself by the plastic Christmas wreath not once, not twice, but three separate times. And the truly sad part is that I knew the wreath was there every single time but it got me anyway. Luckily for me (or unluckily depending on your point of view) Vapour isn’t all that scary.
It’s not the horror, it’s the puzzles
The game relies heavily on jump scares to get you and while in concept the demons you’re fighting are scary (a spider with a human skull as its body, a floating rotting head with spine still attached etc.) they just aren’t so in execution. And when you’re in combat there is no health bar for you or the enemy, essentially reducing combat to a slug fest that only ends when one of you dies which can be a bit of an inconvenience when you are going up against one of the game’s more difficult bosses that require some tactical planning and thinking to beat.
The game’s strengths are that you actually have to think about the puzzles that the game presents and that it has a soundtrack that improves the experience (something most games can't get right these days). These, and decent enough visuals, create a good atmosphere to explore. The game rewards the player who explores every single nook and cranny, and there is plenty to explore. Those with good memories will be able to breeze through it but if you miss just one thing – just one – then you’d better go back and figure out what it was.
Potential to Improve
Overall, it would be great if we found out a bit more about Charles. I’m afraid that you’re a bad guy who did bad things and some cliché dialogue just isn’t going to cut it. Charles feels a little cut-and-paste protagonist, but I can forgive that because this isn’t a story centered game like Life is Strange is and it only Part 1 so maybe this will change in the future. Vapour advertises itself as a horror game, but it is not scary, it is a first-person puzzle solving game with a bit of spookiness sprinkled on top.
I should mention the dedication and enthusiasm of the young fellows from Johannesburg working on it, which always gets you a few extra points in my book. Just a quick look on their Steam page reveals that patches were being released at a rapid pace and they are very involved in their 2-month-old community, responding to questions and concerns and making sure people know they’re there to help out. For two guys releasing their very first game they could have done a lot worse and I applaud them because although what they made wasn’t scary, it was actually kind of fun.
Puzzles that make you think, good sound track.
Horror isn't scary, hack'n'slash combat.