Vesta, from developer Finalboss Games, looks like a top-down action platformer. It takes place on a distant planet and is full of robots, computer terminals and strange machines, but don’t let all of that fool you. What Vesta really is, is a puzzle game, and a pretty good one at that. Is it worth your hard-earned scratch and that precious room on your hard drive? Well that’s what we’re about to figure out.
You’ll play as Vesta, a precocious little six-year-old girl who lives in a strange world that was once full of humans and perfect machines. Now, besides Vesta, the humans are gone and the perfect machines are decidedly imperfect. The story is delivered in nicely done live-action comic strips and interaction with computer terminals that are strewn about the four different stages and thirty-six different levels.
Vesta has no weapons and she can’t even jump, but she does have a giant robot companion, uncleverly named Droid. She can jump on his shoulders allowing the player to control both of them at the same time, or with a push of a button, you can toggle between the two. As you might imagine, the two of them have vastly different skills. Droid has a laser cannon that stuns enemy robots allowing Vesta to suck out their power. Vesta has a power pack that lets her store this power, which the two of them use to advance through the technologically advanced landscape.
This “power”, or energy, lies at the heart of the game. Little Vesta must scavenge said energy from various power nodes and enemy bots. Storing up to three energy units in her pack, her and Droid can power up doors, elevators, escalators and moving platforms to traverse the individual stages. Figuring out how to get both Droid and Vesta through each of these barriers is the tricky part and is the heart of the game. Most of these puzzles are just difficult enough to make you feel good about solving them, but not so tough that it sucks the fun out of the whole thing. It’s a tough balancing act that all puzzle games grapple with, and in the end, it’s all subjective. Puzzles that I find difficult, you may think are too easy. Maybe you’re smarter than me, maybe you’re not. Either way, you don’t need to rub it in.
I found the comic strip cut-scenes charming, and at first, I really enjoyed the game’s futuristic setting, but unfortunately, the sameness of it all became a bit of a drag. Subsequent levels and enemies soon began to blend together without much to differentiate themselves. This robbed me—and the game—of any surprises beyond the first few stages. There was some redundancy in the puzzles as well, but for the most part, I enjoyed solving them. Sometimes, I advanced past a checkpoint without collecting a mandatory unit of energy, thus forcing myself to restart a level to collect it. Thankfully, the levels are fairly small with copious checkpoints, keeping the backtracking to a minimum.
Those are the notable negatives that I noticed but I’ve saved the most egregious for last. The controls. The game is easy to control and even intuitive for the most part. What am I bitching about, you must be wondering? Well, remember when I said Vesta looked like a platformer? It does, but it sure as hell doesn’t feel like one. There is a small but noticeable lag where poor Vesta takes a fraction of second to respond to my command. She doesn’t jump, but she has a dash button, and the first time you need to use it to quickly avoid a trap, this lag is obvious. The occasional boss fights and traversing tight walkways over instant death are where this shortcoming is most noticeable. Thankfully, you spend most of your time walking back and forth solving puzzles, and for that, the controls get the job done. However, tightening those controls up would have made a big difference in the mind of at least this reviewer.
With 36 levels over four different areas—not to mention countless collectables— there is plenty of bang for your buck here. If you like cute little girls in peril (if so, what’s wrong with you?) and solving puzzles, than Vesta will probably quench that thirst. If you’re looking for a poor man’s Ratchet and Clank, than I’m afraid I have some bad news. For me, I though the puzzles were fun and the characters were endearing, and if you’re looking for a good time, that is pretty good start.
Vesta PS4 Review
Vesta may look like a cute little top-down platformer, but make no mistake, this is a puzzler. The world and levels soon begin to look the same, but the puzzles are clever and the character swapping adds a fun quirk. If puzzles are your thing, then adding Vesta to your "to-be-played pile" makes a lot of sense.
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Reviewed using base PS4.