ARTE France and Cosmografik channel their inner Banksy with the release of their new title Vandals. Taking cues from Hitman GO and other turn-based puzzlers, does its bite-sized challenges prove to be a challenge?
The stylistic world of Vandals takes place in a turn-based fashion. Players will take control of a vandal of their very own, and are tasked with tagging a certain spot in a city and vanishing without getting caught. The tricky part is getting away with it – cops are always on patrol, and one wrong move can get you arrested. However, there are a number of ways to get the upper hand – sewers, bushes, bottles, and whistles can all draw attention away from the guards, and can also be used to bait their patterns.
A somewhat grid-based format is used to traverse in this game. Though it may be optimized for the mobile version, it works well with the mouse-based setup found in the Steam version. Each of the 60 levels is fairly short, but figuring out the best way to clear each one is entertaining. There is often more than one solution to each puzzle, and the game is rarely unfair. If anything, the game rewards players for finding the ideal route – additional “stars” are earned for clearing stages undetected, in a set amount of moves, or by going to risky parts of the map. The entirety of the game can be completed in just a few short hours, but these elements encourage some replayability.
Players will tag their way through five different cities in different time periods, from Paris in 1968 to Berlin in 1984. Most areas look the same though, not really standing out. Though the aesthetic and music create a stylized atmosphere, everything starts to run together after a while. It should be worth nothing though that the game has an excellent learning curve – early stages are a walk in the park, but new elements are gradually introduced as the game progresses. The ability to try each stage as many times as you want is a plus as well.
Unfortunately, outside of the main levels, there’s not much to do. Players can create their own tags, but a level editor or even leaderboards would have given this title some legs. Achievements are available, though they are in French as of this review.
Vandals’ puzzle-based antics are perfect for short sessions. With a fair difficulty curve and just the right amount of elements, this is one title worth exploring
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