Doomsday Vault Review

Sometimes it’s nice to sit down and play a relaxing game that doesn’t require much brain power, and maybe play it while listening to an audiobook or watching a movie. In Steps, Doomsday Vault developed and published by Flightless. This simple puzzle-platformer puts the player in the role of a (presumably) human in a robot suit on a quest to save plant life on Earth.

That’s it. Doomsday Vault offers no real narrative. The planet’s ecosystem has collapsed, and the player’s mission is to save the planet’s remaining plant species and plant them in basements before they disappear forever. But why did the ecosystem collapse? What terrible disaster happened on earth? Areas have been flooded, highways are crumbling, buildings are empty and abandoned, there are no people everywhere. However, no explanation was ever given. It’s not even clear if the player is a real person inside that robot suit.

Despite the lack of clarity, Doomsday Vault offers an enjoyable, leisurely, somewhat rewarding but not challenging puzzle-solving experience. In fact, the puzzles are so simple they can hardly be called puzzles. They are more akin to small obstacles that must be bypassed using very obvious solutions placed in front of the player. This is a game that won’t confuse anyone.

doomsday  vault  saving  plant The most difficult aspect of the Doomsday Vault is finding the nutrients needed to grow all the rescued crops. Missing a container tucked away in an obscure corner is the only reason to replay a level. While most of them are entertaining, the levels are relatively short, basic, and there’s nothing that evokes the urge to revisit them. Robot suits will get some tool upgrades to get through specific areas, but they’re barely used in subsequent levels, so introducing them is pretty much pointless. It would be nice if the levels grew more complex as the game progressed, requiring creative use of new tools.

There is an educational opportunity in the Doomsday Vault that the developers seem to have started to take advantage of but ultimately didn’t pursue. On the main menu, when selecting a level to play, the seed image found in that area is displayed. Selecting the icon in the upper right will give a brief introduction to the plant, its origin and various uses. Whether this information is real or fictional is unclear, and it’s doubtful that many gamers will feel compelled to throw away their controllers and run to their computers to check it out.

doomsday  vault  carbon  creator But these small ads suggest that Flightless may have had a goal when developing the Doomsday Vault. There is a vague, implicit message about the fate of the planet and the importance of protecting plant life, but it never gets further than that. Players collect plants and find batteries for machines called Carbon Eaters, but if there’s a social message about climate change or saving the planet, it’s never clarified. In fact, the apocalyptic vault has a strangely soothing atmosphere that stands in stark contrast to the post-apocalyptic setting. Soft colors and cool music make playing the game a relaxing endeavor. So if Flightless has a message to send, it’s completely lost in the peaceful atmosphere of the game.

Grow all the crops by collecting nutrients hidden in various levels, enabling players to unlock suit customization options. This is one of the highlights of Doomsday Vault. Players can change the pattern and color of the suit, as well as replace accessories such as helmets, backpacks, belts and arms. Not all customization options can be unlocked by simply playing the game, though, as some must be earned by scoring certain points in the game’s challenge mode.

doomsday  vault  challenge  race Challenge missions expand on the core gameplay of Doomsday Vault and are almost more fun than the main game. There are races, mazes, collection and survival challenges, and leaderboards that add an element of competition, which gives players something to do after completing the story. However, while entertaining for a while, even the novelty of Challenge Mode wears off quickly.

This is ultimately the crux of the Doomsday Vault. The game is so short that it can be done in one long gaming session or multiple minigames, any interest it sparks doesn’t last long. It’s an all-around enjoyable experience, but it’s not groundbreaking in any way. In fact, many players are likely to forget about the game altogether after finishing it. At the end of the game, the developer promises that “new missions are coming soon.” But considering that Doomsday Vault was originally released for Apple Arcade a year and a half ago, one wonders how far “soon” really is.

doomsday  vault  observing  plants Doomsday Vault is a mobile game that has been ported to other platforms, and this is evident in the basic controls, simple level design, and very large and obvious interaction points. The player moves on a sort of grid with an isometric view, and the controls feel unnecessarily clunky and unresponsive. Turning around involuntarily, running farther than expected, and having to really focus on getting the robot where he wants it to happen more often than normal. This control scheme might work on a mobile device or using the Switch’s touchscreen, but it’s not satisfactorily controlled with a gamepad.

Flightless has also released a game called Element, which the developers describe as “a real-time strategy space game for people who don’t have time for real-time strategy space games.” The same premise seems to be the purpose of Doomsday Vault. This is a puzzle game for those who don’t have time or energy to challenge themselves with puzzle games. It was a pleasant experience, just not a memorable one.

Doomsday Vault is available on iOS, PC, and Switch. Game Rant got the code for the Nintendo Switch version.

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