Review: 'Vane' (PS4)


A lot of games go for 'art' these days. They'll go for style and graphics above actual functionality. Or they decide it 'means something'. Vane does this. It does better than most but, well....

You are a bird in Vane. One day when fluttering around and starting up mechanical contraptions with your bird friends by cawing, you become a human...who proceeds to solve further things. That's about it. You're a bird, then a kid, or wait, were a you a kid before who became a bird? I'm still not exactly sure. The plot is very loose, and the game doesn't tell you too much about it. Or how to do things....but that's gameplay.

Which, well, let's get to that. It's largely a puzzle solver. Which pretty much leaves you to run or fly, depending on species, to each checkpoint. It's exploring and solving. One part literally has you push around an energy ball and shout at other kids. In all there isn't actually all that much to do besides explore and walk and fly around. I personally like the bird parts the best because you really saw how big the game was in it's depth, but again, you didn't have all that much to do.

The graphics aren't bad. It's pretty stylized graphics. Things are a bit weathered and jaggy. Some birds almost appear spiky. Kids appear blocky and glowy. But some graphics are truly breathtaking – one part was when you move across metal-like bridges while they slowly build up construction style is pretty amazing. And the flying animations are probably some of the best ever put into a game. While it's a little dark in color-palette at times, it really does look great.

Controls were...disappointing. It's only a few buttons on the PS4, but it was just “Use the joystick to move around and hit triangle to action”. Not hard, just insanely easy and almost insulting.

Music and sound were great. The music was the 80's synthesizer feel – some parts seemed almost out of Stranger Things. It was oddly fitting. Mostly though it's ambient. It drags the game on a lot, especially if you've been flying around for 40 minutes not knowing where to go because the game has no direction, but it can be slightly beautiful. Sound is minimalist too. Squeaky metal things, bird calls, kids yelling – it uses sound as needed. Except for the ambiance like rushing wind and things – that's always there. All together it completes the game quite well.

There were no real glitches to speak of. The game is a bit broken, but that's more of lack of direction. The frame rate was great, and even the more complicated parts of the game, like turning into a bird while falling, go off without a hitch. I got the patched version, so a lot of things.

Vane isn't that bad of a game. It looks beautiful and has a great soundtrack. It's fun just exploring. But that's it – that seems to be it. You go around and do (very few) things without direction under a system that's just pushing a button here and there. Man, I wish this was more of game that was substance over style. With more work on gameplay and story, this could have been a really in-depth game. Vane should have been, well, more of a game.

Final Score: 6.5 out of 10

A copy of this game was provided for the purpose of review.

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