Platforms: PC, PS4 (reviewed)
Developer/Publisher: Friend and Foe
Release: 15th January 2019 (PS4, PC release TBD)
It isn´t often that the market of “cinematic platformers” sees new entries especially good ones. Vane is one of those games a team of dedicated people spends years developing, simply to face a tinier market than they deserve, at least without any bigger marketing beats. However, since a few members of the studio Friend & Foe worked on the Last Guardian for a while, their independent project Vane became a whole lot more interesting. Unfortunately, this one isn´t quite as charming as anything else.
Similar to most other “artistic” indie games, Vane doesn´t feature much voice acting, clear story-telling or cutscenes. Instead we´re thrown directly into the vast, dusty landscapes of this world as a boy who´s apparently able to transform into a raven, seeking to reach the distant tower.
For some this may sound, at least to some degree, familiar to Journey and it actually is in terms of sctructure. Basically the whole game is built around reaching the tower, both to guide you in the right direction and as a climax. On 4 hours long way, you´ll visit various caves, ruins and structures, telling a surprisingly intriguing tale of long lost civilizations.
In contrast to Journey or even Playdead´s games, Vane falters at one critical point: Providing a gameplay that doesn´t interrupt the flow. To be frank, the world were presented doesn´t look interesting for the most part, consisting of large dusty fields without many points of interest between various ruins or bigger levels, which become repetitive after 1-2 hours as well. So, it was essential to not let the player spend a lot time in those, yet, nearly nothing here is designed that way.
During the more exploration heavy parts, there aren´t many clear
As a result, the whole 4 hours drag way more than a Journey or Shadow of the Colossus, draining a lot of the emotional impact the grand finale might have had. Instead, reaching the tower culminates into more passages of Vane´s other mediocre part: The climbing. Similar to The Last Guardian
Last but not least, let´s end on a positive note: Vane looks absolutely beautiful. Especially during the many peak moments, the stylized art, simple textures and unique designs can really impress, particularly because of the huge ruins and intimidating spaces you´ll face on the journey. Even
So, what do I think about Vane? Honestly, judging by the visuals alone, I should have liked if not loved it. Unfortunately, the endresult feels like a game that´s so obsessed on delivering an immersive experience, that it forgot many of video game´s core design concepts and ending up as a sluggis, slow and even repetitive experience as a result. Still, for a bit less than 20 bucks, you should definitely pick this up in a sale if you´re in need of cineatic experiences.