Friday, October 23, 2015

The Friday FREE GAME Feature! Ep39: VANISH


Trapped in a dark tunnel system and questioning your sanity, you realize you're not alone...

Like many horror titles, VANISH thrusts you headlong into the game with minimal backstory. The short intro suggests you've been thrown into an underground tunnel (perhaps sewer) system against your will, with no explanation as to why.

The area is quite dark - with the brightness turned way up for the video, I could barely see before walking right into a monster. Playing at the recommended settings makes it so you're lucky to see several feet ahead, meaning you'll have to tread with caution so as not to bump into a baddie. This gets progressively worse as the darkness eventually takes hold (whether physically or in the character's mind I'm not certain) and it goes pitch black even with a glowstick and your brightness up.

Those complaints aside, I found the rest of the game to be quite good. It's full of atmospheric sounds that keep you guessing if something evil is lurking nearby, and there's a number of environmental startles like bursting pipes and tunnel collapses thrown in for good measure.

The real kicker though is the unpredictability of the tunnels. Not only is the layout procedurally generated, but it can change behind you too! It's a cool feature that considerably ups the creep factor and reminds you that no place is safe. The downside to this however is the possibility that one could get incredibly unlucky and be hopelessly stuck/lost (though it's hard to know for sure, considering the changing nature of the tunnels). The game seems designed around short play sessions though, making this situation more like a "bad run" in a roguelike title.

In all, VANISH blends atmospheric horror with a slight roguelike twist into a thrilling test of your bravery, patience, and sanity!

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