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escapeVektor (PS Vita) Review: Escape Your Computer

escapeVektor is a game about finding one's self. Whether it be you or your companion, Vektor, the two of you must find who you are in this journey through cyberspace. It's the quirky dialogue of your companion, the great minimalistic soundtrack and artistic design, and tight gameplay that craft this special experience unlike any other. 

escapeVektor's narrative is focused on you, the player, helping Vector escape your device's CPU. As you progress Vektor begins to regain memories of the past regarding his imprisonment. Vektor is a flawed and fun character to have along for the ride. He's insecure, demanding, occasionally witty, and sympathetic which makes for a very interesting and widely relatable character. When embarking on this journey you make a commitment that you will aid him in his escapade. The player and Vektor share an escape journey through cyberspace that transforms into one of discovery striking a beautiful balance allowing Vector to give exposition and dialogue with you in his hand to pen the tale he's weaving.  

escapeVektor features a minimalistic sense of style and sound. The graphics pop off of the OLED screen with vibrant, neon colors reminiscient of Tron. In fact the entirety of the game is paying homage to Tron, to both the movie or arcade game, from an aesthetic standpoint.  Bright line colors, eye-popping effects, and the occasional space dust explosion enhance the presentation to a stylish level of excellence. The sountrack features techno tunes that aren't exactly memorable, though I really enjoyed listening to the start menu screen music, but they provide great background sound to the sterile foreground. The bleeps and bloops are very similar to that of an 80's sci-fi film featuring lasers and space explosions. The framerate never dipped on my playthrough and the UI worked well even when occasionally it felt cluttered with information. It isn't, mind you, but it feels that way sometimes. 

Gameplay is where escapeVektor truly comes into it's own, there's really nothing else like it. You move on "cells" or lines to turn them the color of the light refracted behind your avatar which then triggers the exit of the level.  The levels are filled with traps, patrols, and sharp turns. Each level features a bronze, silver, gold, and platinum medal that you are awardes based upon your comepletion of the level in a  specific time frame and score limit. The game is riddled with secrets and levels featuring 150 "nodes" or levels that are spread across 27 "zones" or worlds. (9 of which are secret)  You are given a quartet of abilities to enhance the gameplay experience and for the desecration of the agressive AI hunting you down. You have limited uses of these abilities, but you may fill them up by moving over non-colored "cells" or filling in a lines to form a square ala the game "Dots". Early in the game using your abilities isn't much of an issue, but later this becomes a micro-managing artform. As you update by "version" or level you earn upgrades and new abilities. 

The way the gameplay coincides with the narrative's exposition is brilliant. The CPU adapts to your preferred strategy of coursing through levels by introducing new opposition, patrol patterns, and traps. As you are combating the opposition, Vektor is in the background searching for memories, and coding upgrades for you while battling viruses. Literally he's one of the coolest godamn characters I've had the pleasure of playing with.  

escapeVektor is going to be missed by many on Vita because nobody actually owns a Vita... But really because nobody has heard of it and that's a shame. The game has issues, no doubt, such as  its movement controls that don't seem to register when rounding corners, the gyroscope feature can lend immersion but more often than not will obscure the more important bits of action unless your playing very still, and the game doesn't always teach the players the terminology as well as it should  but there's something so unique and enthralling about the package that's hard to pinpoint. The game design elements general gamer's will recognize, however, is the absurd amount of content, tightly paced and polished gameplay, and simple, yet evocative narrative that rides the line of breaking the fourth wall giving the game a charm all it's own.  escapeVektor features characteristics very similar to the ones of the main character. It's a flawed gem that ,after cooperating and coordinating with, simply becomes hard to part ways with.



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