Vector is a new Facebook game from Nekki, developer of the impressive and visually-striking one-on-one combat game Shadow Fight. The new game makes use of the same distinctive “silhouette” aesthetic in a whole new gameplay context — in this case, freerunning/parkour.
In Vector, players take on the role of a shadowy figure who is constantly being pursued by another shadowy figure. No context is given for why these two are chasing each other despite the fact that the game refers to its main sequence of levels are “story” mode, but it doesn’t really matter — Vector isn’t a game that’s attempting to tell a complex story. Rather, it’s a game that attempts to get players wrapped up in the thrill of a movie-style rooftop chase scene — and in that respect, it succeeds admirably.
Controlling Vector is very simple. Tapping the up arrow key on the keyboard causes the player character to jump; tapping the down arrow causes the player to slide under low obstacles. When glowing right-facing arrows appear on the course, the player may also press the right arrow key to enjoy a brief boost of speed — in many instances, this increase in velocity is necessary to clear some big jumps. The game is not an “endless runner” — it is split into discrete levels rather than infinite randomly-generated challenges, so it is possible to learn the best route to victory.
The bare minimum the player has to do to complete a level is survive. This gets very difficult very quickly, providing a significant challenge to even the most skilled platform gamers, but the fact that it’s possible to immediately restart a level makes failure less painful. Once the player has successfully managed to traverse a level without falling into a bottomless pit or being caught by the pursuing figure, they can then concentrate on trying to achieve the elusive “three star” rating. This is achieved by collecting all of the bonus items scattered through the level and completing all of the marked “tricks” at specific points. Completing a trick is a simple matter of tapping the up arrow while passing over a trick icon, but there’s a twist — the player character only knows a few tricks at the start of the game, and the remainder must be purchased using in-game currency. This may either be earned simply by playing levels or acquired through in-game purchase using Facebook Credits.
The in-game currency may also be spent on a number of other items besides the tricks — “gadgets” are effectively paid cheats, allowing players to make a level considerably easier by either removing the pursuing guard or slowing down time, while costume items allow for a limited degree of visual customization of the player character, though are relatively expensive. It’s possible to have a satisfying experience with the game without spending a cent, but acquiring all of the tricks will probably require a degree of “grinding” earlier levels repeatedly in order to earn enough money.
Vector is an impressive game in all respects. It’s visually stunning — the animation in particular is unlike anything else on Facebook (with the exception of Nekki’s previous title Shadow Fight) — and the gameplay is solid, though the focus on realistic animations can mean the controls occasionally feel a little sluggish to respond. There’s a strong sense of progression through the game, plenty of content to unlock and a robust monetization strategy in place. The only thing it’s really missing is a more solid suite of social features — at present, the only thing players can do with friends is compare how many stars they have achieved. A number of features on the game’s main menu are listed as “in development,” though, so it’s entirely possible that this aspect will be improved over time. As it stands, however, Vector is a great game that deserves to enjoy some success.
Visually stunning and highly playable — another great title from Nekki.