When Vane was first announced it looked very interesting and one must admit being able to fly around as a bird was quite enticing. There were talks about the game reminding people of Journey and rightfully so. The visuals matched up and the solo wanderer definitely looked the part. Could Vane live up to the game that it was being compared to though? Did Friend & Foe create another wonderful piece of art? Let’s find out.
Vane opens with a thunderous bang, no seriously it does. As the game begins you are immediately asking questions. What in the hell is going on? The world around you appears to be falling apart and in chaos. The howling winds and the lightning strikes get you motivated to run, to where though? I am not really sure. The music is fantastic and you feel as if the stakes are higher than anything you have played before. Running through the chaos you come across a mysterious figure that knocks you back and then you are sucked away into the nothingness. This is the opening scene in Vane. It was great, it was heart pounding, it was everything I wanted out of this game. Unfortunately it didn’t last long.
After the opening scene you take flight as the bird. This is where things completely change from what started out so promising. Don’t get me wrong flying around as the bird was a great idea for this game but the problem is the execution. You spend the first few moments trying to figure out the controls and taking in a bit of the scenery. Even though the landscape is mostly desert it feels like so much more. It looks wonderful and the sounds of the wind blowing give you a sense of peacefulness. That ends quickly as you come across your first vane. Getting the bird to land is a little tricky but it only grows in annoyance as the game progresses. Flying around the land I noticed the camera angle was very sensitive. It would jump from side to side and twitch when it didn’t seem necessary. Maybe it was just me but over an hour into the game a started to get nauseous from the movement. I never did adjust to flying the bird the entire game and was thankful when I wasn’t forced to use it. However, there are parts where you must be the bird in order to solve certain puzzles. That is what Vane is largely about, completing puzzles with more often than not no idea what in the world is going on.
If being the bird wasn’t frustrating enough wait until you have to solve some of these bizarre puzzles. It wasn’t that they were bad, it just didn’t give you any sense of direction. Now don’t get me wrong. I do not like games that hold your hand the entire way but at least nudge me if I haven’t figured it out in a long period of time. Couple that with flying around with weird camera angles that sometimes would see you breaking through walls or even the ground and it makes for some frustrating moments.
All could be saved when you turn into the little boy though, right? Well some aspects of this part of the game were and my motion sickness was certainly thankful for the break. You will get the Journey vibes as you run around making your way through caverns and pathways. However again the camera angles will break through and cause you to lose track of your character. This isn’t a deal breaker in my opinion but it could be for some. I did enjoy this part of the game though (roaming around as the boy) but would eventually have to turn back into that damn bird. There are puzzles to solve as the little boy and these can be increasingly frustrating with the odd unresponsive controls. For instance, there is one part in the game where you must push this golden ball around with others, not sure why but at times the character wouldn’t push it and instead would head in a different direction. Add the fact that you had little idea what to do or what was going on made those moments feel empty.
Vane also has a problem with things not working properly that will ultimately lead to wasted time. I came across a gate that at first I figured the gate can be opened by pushing it. I walked up to the gate and tried to push. Nothing happened. I walked my character around surveying the surroundings only to try and push the gate open again. Yet again nothing. I had no idea what to do so I pushed the ball around as much as I could and even jumped through an opening to continue on until the game started me all over at the beginning. When all was said and done I had to go back to the gate and push it open, this time it opened. Why didn’t it open the first time? Or the second? These are moments in the game that shouldn’t happen but sadly they do.
Puzzle solving annoyances aside the game at times still feels magical. It will draw you in and make you wonder what is going on in this ever changing world. Something mysterious is happening and you don’t know quite what it might be but you can tell it’s beautiful. Then you come to the end of the game and the stakes rise to the level of the beginning. It was crazy and I had no idea what to do or what was going on. It leads you to believe that this game is going to blow us away with an ending. Just as Vane starts with a bang it kind of ends with a whimper. It builds up and up just to let you down with again no sense of direction and progressively worse camera angles.
Vane was an interesting game but I wanted so much more from flying around as the bird. I loved seeing the first footage of gameplay as the bird flew around this vast land. It didn’t quite live up to that hype. It gives you moments of fantastic imagination and then lets you down with this empty feeling. It never stays consistent with being a good game. Maybe if there was a little more focus on the gameplay itself instead of trying to be increasingly mysterious then perhaps it would have succeeded. It took me a little over two hours to complete and I wasn’t sad at how short the game ended up being. I can’t recommend buying this game unless it goes on sale from the modest price that it is already. In the end Vane isn’t a bad game, it just isn’t that good either.
Rating: 6.5 out of 10