Vesta (Switch) Review
Release Date: January 19,2018
Publisher/Developer: Finalboss Games
Platform: Switch (Reviewed), PS4, Xbox One, Steam
A young girl appears to be the only human in a mazelike structure. She is awakened by a floating AI robot who urges her to get up and explore. Soon after, she activates a hulking automaton named DROID. Together, they are tasked with finding their way through the mysterious labyrinth.
Despite tons of evidence discussing a beautiful utopia for mankind, the world of Vesta is devoid of all humans, and what other artificial intelligence you come across is violent. Vesta and DROID make a powerful tag team. DROID is the muscle: he can take up to three hits, can throw little Vesta over gaps, and shoot a missle that incapacitates the robotic enemies. Vesta can store energy. She'll find it in terminals dotted around the landscape, or can drain it from enemies that DROID has stunned.
Vesta runs through an isometric land using that energy to solve puzzles. Doors, conveyor belts, platforms, and other mechanics run on this energy, but you have to rely on what you find. There are times Vesta and DROID have to go separate ways, and others where you're constantly swapping back and forth between the two. The puzzles are smartly done. There's always a way through for the calm and methodical: the game doesn't rely on twitch luck to get past a door while it's closing or anything. While this is perfect for a cerebral game, it can get frustrating if you get one part of the puzzle wrong. Much like those 15-piece slider puzzles, messing up one thing in your pattern can make you have to backtrack or flat-out start over. I've had a couple levels where I need one extra block of energy, and the door I used to get in is now closed with no way of re-opening it. Or Vesta gets hit or falls one inch too far and gets knocked out. Or a platform is a half inch up, and falling off the other side onto flat ground means I can't get back, as Vesta and DROID can't jump. These frustrations can turn into level or checkpoint resets. They tend to not be far back, but if there was a mundane easy part before your reset it gets frustrating slogging through it over again, risking another lap if you get it wrong again.
Finishing a level is always a satisfying accomplishment. You can't pound through and make a level work. You have to find the precise solution in order to progress. Going through the levels opens up new challenges, as well as a cute comic-book style storyline to follow. You come across data logs through the course of the game that flesh out what really is going on. There are a few secret items to find in each level if you are a completionist, though I've yet to see any motivation other than bragging rights.
Most of the time puzzles are solvable, it's just finding the WAY to solve them that can get rough. I wish it was a two-player game, splitting the Joy-Con and screen for Vesta and DROID to work simultaneously, but you could break some of the puzzles if both characters could move together. I wish there were a few more guardrails, as I had a few frustrating death drops when I had to have DROID put down Vesta, as his only way to do so is chucking her ten feet away. Some of the cool looking pipes closer to the "camera" would block what I was hoping to look at, but it never was at a detriment to the puzzles.
Vesta is a great little puzzler at an affordable price. Any flaws are inherent to finding a bad solution to a puzzle, though at times I wished for a rewind button to go back even two seconds after realizing a folly that would put me back ten minutes on a puzzle. These frustrations made victory all the sweeter, though. Despite the slight frustrations, Vesta is a solid game worht the price of admission.
-Excellent puzzling mechanics make you feel like a genius
-Very well designed story presentation in comic book style
-Definitely a "brains over brawn" kind of game
-You must find the developer's solution, no working around it at all
-You might miss a step and not know about it until much later
-Backtracking 10 minutes for a mistake 30 seconds ago is frustrating