Roy G. Beats
Vectronom is an interesting little number. A rhythm game in the truest sense of the term, nearly every little thing that you do in Vectronom all comes down to how well you can move to the beat. But, the game would be easy if that was all you had to do. And you can absolutely trust me when I say that this game, especially in its latter half, is anything but.
No, Vectronom isn’t solely about moving to the beat. It’s also about hand-eye coordination! In a world filled with colorful stages made from geometric patterns so dazzling in their minimalistic flair that you’d almost expect to find them on the front page of an expensive online hipster-esque clothing store (I’d totally buy those, by the way), the only way to survive in this game is to both know how to move, and know where to move. And it’s that very same two-piece formula that makes up the entirety of this game.
Movin’ to the Music
Vectronom is a rhythm-based, isometric platformer with a simple premise, simple goals, and an unexpectedly demanding execution. The goal of the game is, as I’ve already said, not one that you really need to think about – to make it to the end of the level. The way in which this is done is rather interesting, however. Being a rhythm game, and one with many complex rhythms at that, Vectronom doesn’t expect you to move and groove like a pro. Instead, it breaks each level up into three sections of progressing (although not wildly so) difficulty – a saving grace for players, considering how difficult some of the levels can be even at the beginning.
Then, there’s the actual “rhythm” part of the rhythm game. Ironically enough, you could, technically speaking, play the game without consciously paying attention to the rhythm. It doesn’t require you to stay on beat in order to progress (although there are achievements in each level for doing so!), and you’re free to move around as you’d like. Those choosing to do this, however, will very quickly find themselves at a disadvantage. A huge disadvantage This is because the geometric world of Vectronom itself is one which not only constantly changes shape, but does in a rhythmic sense. From platforms to collectibles, to stage hazards, everything is constantly moving to a pre-specified rhythm – and so must you, should you actually wish to get through each level (without having to rely on blind luck, anyway).
Fortunately, just as this game demands that you keep time, it also rewards you for being musically competent. It shouldn’t take long for musically practiced players to realize that going through certain parts of many of the game’s levels in double time, or even with their own unique rhythm, is entirely possible so long as they keep in time with the game itself. On the other hand, these abilities almost become necessary during the end of the game, creating sudden, and slightly frustrating skill walls that all but the most musically gifted of players will struggle at least a little bit with. Fortunately, these skill walls shouldn’t be too much of an issue so long as you practice, but they can still come as a surprise to those who aren’t expecting them.
Sights and Sounds
I’m sure it’s obvious at this point that Vectronom is a fairly intense audiovisual experience at this point, but I would be remiss if I didn’t touch upon it just a little bit more. While I’ve already mentioned that each of the game’s levels is segmented in a way that allows them to slowly build things up, I haven’t talked about how the music comes into play with that. Each of Vectronom‘s levels comes with its own unique (albeit incredibly minimalistic) song. And, much like the levels themselves, each song becomes more developed with each new level segment. Not only does this work well with the game’s overall theme, but it also serves as a form of encouragement to the player. It’s hard not to think “yeah, I’m in the home stretch now!” when you finally reach the last part of each level, and the fact that the music is generally so hyped up at that point serves to keep you motivated to see things through to the very end.
Vectronom is also colorful. Almost to the point of being overbearing. Complimenting each level’s vibrant color scheme is a solid background whose color changes in time with the song (yes, you read that correctly). While a good idea in theory, as it makes it impossible not to have a visual representation of the song’s beat, having a constant strobe light effect lighting up my screen is a tiny bit strenuous on the eyes. There is a way to toggle this off via the options menu, however, though it does make it easier on the ol’ peepers, it leaves you at a slight disadvantage, ultimately making the decision whether or not to leave the flashing lights on a bit of a Sophie’s Choice.
A World of Rhythm
In a world where everything is made up of cubes and no words are said, Vectronom manages to explain itself through music quite well. While there is something that could be said about its unfortunately short length and potential difficulty, rhythm-savvy players will most likely find something to enjoy with a game like this. Just make sure you’re capable of keeping a beat before you dive in!
Final Verdict: 3.5/5
Available on: Switch (Reviewed), PC ; Publisher: Ludopium, La Sept ; Developer: Ludopium ; Players: 1 – 4 ; Released: May 29, 2019; ESRB: E for Everyone ; MSRP: $9.99
Full disclosure: This review is based on a copy of Vectronom given to Hey Poor Player by the publisher.