Some time in the not-so-distant future, a typical day in the office will have evolved into something much more sinister and intolerable. Cubes will have multiplied like rabbits on a warm spring day while simultaneously shrinking in size. Corporations will issue decrees stating that there will be no more “individualization” in the work place. Standardized attire will become commonplace, consisting of homogenous suits with matching neon eyewear. And in order to be sure that you aren’t browsing YouTube during working hours, a floating image of your CEO’s head will hover ominously behind you on large-screen TVs to remind you that “the eye” is always watching. To some, this new future will be an acceptable trade-off for a median income and mediocre health benefits… To you, however, it’s high-time for a good long run.
In Vector, you play the role of a disgruntled employee’s silhouette who wants nothing more than to get as far away from his job as possible. Since future modes of transportation have been relegated to the ruling 1%, you have no choice but to (quite literally) run. The opening cinematic has you throwing down your eyewear, stripping off your suit and tie, and making a dramatic exit from the workplace – not down the elevator – but by leaping through a giant pane of glass. Apparently, your job really blows. To make matters worse, your boss has sent a particularly nasty security guard after you with a stun gun.
So, I Ran…
So, that’s the set up in a nutshell… Kind of like Forrest Gump, your job is to run, and run you will. Fortunately for you, you seem to be adept at the art of parkour – a fancy way of running about that involves leaping over, sliding under, or rebounding off of your environment to sustain perpetual motion. You will run through many different cityscapes trying to escape the security guard, and doing so with flair will net you bonus points and coins which you can spend unlocking new fancy parkour moves. Assuming you don’t screw up your timing and slam into a wall, an exit awaits you on the other side. Should you stumble along the way however, expect to be met with an incapacitating zap from officer Bob.
If At First You Don’t Succeed
There are over 20 levels to master in Vector – and by “master”, I do mean master. One minor screw up, including a simple swipe that doesn’t get registered, and you’re back to the starting point once again. Each level will net you between one and three stars (based on performance), but to get through most levels at all you’ll likely have to try a few times. Vector is a side-scroller, and you don’t get to see much of the landscape as you run so obstacles tend to pop up as unwanted surprises. A good bit of the game is repetition – learning where the obstacles are on a level and how to best navigate through them. In one particularly annoying level that I encountered toward the end of my play testing, you run with another escapee who knows the route much better than you. Unfortunately, if you don’t time your moves exactly right, you’ll lose sight of him and won’t know where to go. The net effect is having to replay the mission over and over and over… Eventually, I just got sick of it and decided to write the review. Some people are better at channeling frustration than others.
Like the title suggests, the graphics in this game are vector-based providing tight, illustrated lines and smooth movement. Performance is good overall, which is especially handy since you’re constantly running, but the mission where I had a new friend slowed down a bit and got choppy. All the while you’re running, there’s an energetic electronic soundtrack urging you forward. Controls are simple and intuitive – you automatically run, swipe up to jump, and swipe down to slide under obstacles. Every so often you’ll encounter special “trick” icons along the path which a simple jump will trigger as well as fast-forward arrows that speed you up for a few seconds. As you progress, you’ll earn coins that can be spent to unlock these trick spots to get you more stars at the end.
The free version sets you up with 20 levels to keep yourself occupied, and for a dollar more you can upgrade to the “deluxe” version (40 levels). My biggest gripe with this game is just how precise your timing has to be in order to beat a level, and the fact that you can never stop or turn around leaves very little room for error. Assuming you have more patience than I, as well as a sturdy tolerance for repetition, Vector will keep you entertained for a good stint.