Developer: Cordens Interactive
Publisher: Cordens Interactive (First published by Deck 13, Mayflower Entertainment)
Genre(s): Action, Adventure, Indie, Puzzle-platformer
Platform: PC- Steam (also available on GOG.com)
Age Rating: None given
Release Date: 30/07/2021
A code was provided for review purposes
Every once in a while, a little gem drops onto your review list. Vesper is one such gem. It’s one of those games that stays with you long after you finish playing. What is it about this indie title from Cordens Interactive that I found so enchanting? You’ll have to read my Rapid Review below to find out.
A Lone Android
During the game, you play the part of an android who is trying to save his people from the aftereffects of the Vesper Protocol having been activated. Your character wields a sort of light sword (called the Drivegun) that allows you to transfer balls of light to open doors and solve puzzles. Gameplay in Vesper is made up of platforming sections and puzzles that require you to complete a succession of actions in the right sequence. The (rather cute) android also gains abilities throughout the game. For example, you don’t start with the Drivegun.
As you move through each level you find logs that give valuable backstory. Some are easier to find than others and these ones seem to deliver key points to the plot. A base version of the story is delivered through the main game, but the storyline really comes to life with the extra information. If writing has the power to move you, I’d recommend finding the logs.
During their quest, your little android friend must avoid getting killed by other hover-androids or those in the form of a cyber-dog. The hover-androids also wield a Drivegun. Using your weapon, you can take possession of the other machines, which can be useful when solving puzzles. In addition, there are moving and stationary laser lines to slow you down (fatally) and the often-present peril of a large purple light that surges out of walls and chases you periodically.
There is a depth of feeling in Vesper created by the atmospheric music, weather sounds, and the futuristic sound effects made when the android interacts with the environment. The soundtrack ranges from chilled background beats to thumping bass, always matching the intensity of the events onscreen. At certain points, this is accompanied by the pitter-patter of rain, wind whipping at the android’s heels and driving snow.
None of the characters in Vesper speak. All communication is delivered either through written messages or through images and scenes that play out onscreen. Apart from the logs, the story is understood largely from the player’s interpretation of events. I am a fan of games in this style and found the gameplay to be absorbing and immersive.
All of these factors already combine to deliver a breadth of emotion but add on top of that the layers of story which the logs provide, and this becomes an even more profound experience. I felt pleasantly surprised at how much Vesper kept giving the more I played.
I don’t think there has ever been a game where I have felt so compelled to capture the visuals as Vesper – I couldn’t stop taking screenshots. It uses a small colour palette, but the shades chosen are sublime. There are deep oranges, mossy greens, cobalt blues and sunset mixes of vibrant purple, vivid orange, brilliant crimson and electric violet. The artwork itself is of the highest quality. I found myself frequently stopping simply to stare at the background, drinking in the jaw-droppingly beautiful spectacle.
As I moved across the screen (revealing new scenes) I would feel chills creeping up my spine. My heart felt full whilst taking in those images and yet they also seemed to convey a powerful sense of longing – linked to the developing storyline. As you pass certain areas, what seem like holograms or ghosts appear, frozen mid-action. At other points, you seem to slip into a flashback of past events. The effects of both are captivating and haunting.
There are two alternative endings to Vesper. I played through twice to get both, and I can absolutely recommend doing so – I thoroughly enjoyed my second run. The experience was slightly different, and I found it interesting reading the logs I had missed. Once you complete your first playthrough you unlock the ability to jump into the game at the level of your choosing. This is great if you have a favourite level or want to target finding some specific logs, for example.
Although the view is always from side-on, sometimes the focus zooms out from the character to reveal larger platforming sections. I found that these passages of the game benefited from being played on a larger screen. It’s not impossible to see your little android friend on a smaller one, but it’s less of a nail-biting affair on a big screen.
Most Beautiful by Far
Vesper is the most visually stunning game I have played so far in 2021. It enchanted me from start to finish with its beautiful selection of colours and first-rate artwork. I felt a connection with the android character and a mixture of smooth, atmospheric gameplay and a mysterious sense of longing delivered by the plot kept me engrossed right until the end. It has good reasons for you to go back and play again, making Vesper excellent value for money. It’s definitely a thumbs up from me.
Rapid Reviews Rating
4 out of 5
You can find and read our reviews on OpenCritic.