Vesuvia Review

by on May 18, 2011 at 10:19 pm

Matching games are a popular sub-genre of the PC casual game and have even made their way onto consoles and phones. Vesuvia is a matching game with a minor twist, an OK story and absolutely no variety to the gameplay, which turns it from a semi-interesting and fun game to a dull game that goes on way too long. We often complain about a game being too short and leaving us wanting more, but Vesuvia is the opposite, and the fact that it ends with a possible hint at a sequel doesn’t leave us excited, but instead dismayed.

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The story goes: Jake wrecks his ship and gets stranded on an island (that appears to be sentient, Lost anyone?) and runs into two other people who have also been stuck on the island for a long time. He wants to get off and he follows a path with clues to figure out how to get off. That’s the story in a nutshell, and it’s told through a variety of mechanisms, from voice-overs and cutscenes to a diary with clues found along the way. All of this is very well done, although there was one part where a grammatical mistake really bothered me (improperly using ‘and I’).

The gameplay at first is fun. The gameboard moves by making matches in the direction the player wants to move.  There are items hidden under blocks that have be cracked open by making a match on top of it. There are some levels with locked blocks, but most blocks aren’t locked and the items to be matched underneath them move, so it’s pretty easy to clear all the blocks that might have items hidden underneath them. Once a player has found all the hidden items and released the four compass pieces (which are obtained by breaking the blocks surrounding them), they can use the key on the exit to end the level. The game tells you when you’ve found everything through a gauge. Once it reaches 100%, a player knows there’s nothing left on the level and they should leave. Players can challenge themselves through the timed mode or turn that off and play a more relaxed version of the quest. There’s a frenzy mode, which challenges players to score as many points as they can in sixty seconds, which would be nice, if by the time we were done with the quest mode, we weren’t absolutely tired of the gameplay.

Other than the ‘boss’ levels where there are some locked blocks and the only objective is to break the fiery animal out of its blocks, the gameplay is monotonous. The boards do change, but not enough to make it feel fresh – with different settings, like a desert, a forest and the ocean. The art changes, though, can’t save the gameplay. Even on the animal levels, it’s the same style of play over and over and over – and by the end, it feels like you’ve been doing the same thing over and over again for far too long.  If we’re saying over and over too much, well, that’s how the game feels too. Vesuvia suffers by there not being any fun activities to break up the gameplay – no real variety to the matching, no extra bonus levels with a different type of gameplay altogether – nothing at all that relieves the player from the sameness. This probably would have been ok for a game half the length of this one, but in this rare case, being longer is a detriment to the enjoyment. The story does drive the player to finish the game, but it turns out the ending wasn’t all that worth it – and it wasn’t really explained very well – leaving the player feeling cheated.

Overall, Vesuvia is not a game to buy. Try the demo first and ask yourself after an hour of it if you will still like it after playing the same type of matching repeatedly for ten hours or more. If so, then maybe it’s a game for you. If not, then you’ll agree with me that variety is the spice of life and game developers shouldn’t just give us the same thing in every stage and call it a game. By the end of Vesuvia, it felt like I was doing chores.

Score: 5.3

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