Genres in video games come and go. What’s hot today is very likely to be frigid the following day, with only a few genres managing to stand the test of time. Need a prime example? Think first-person exploration games of the dungeon crawler variety. Might and Magic was king of this setup, a more methodical approach to combat and intrigue on the grid that eventually fell out of favour as more action-packed experiences became commonplace.
While the genre isn’t completely dead, it isn’t exactly thriving. Taking turns while walking through the dankest of dungeons doesn’t exactly sell a million copies, especially when the genre itself is hesitant to change or implementing more modern ideas to make itself more appealing. Fortunately, that’s a problem that Vaporum doesn’t have.
From Fatbot Games come a dungeon crawler with a steampunk bend. You’re grappling with a convenient case of amnesia, you’re stuck in what appears to be the most British of bunkers and you’re all alone. No mage to provide back-up, no warrior class to lend an extra hand in battle. Just you, the rusting pipes around you and several automatons that want to skin you alive.
While Vaporum ditches party mechanics to focus on providing a solo experience, it does at least give players a choice of armour to wear into battle. Will you go for the standard Combat Exoskeleton rig, the specialist Thauma rig or the defense-focused Heavy rig? Choose wisely, as you’ll need to balance the pros and cons of these rigs with weapons that tend to favour either speed or power and seldom both.
Ranged weapons such as pistols and rifles provide a more versatile option to avoiding damage, as do upgrades in the form of Circuits which can be discovered along the way. It’s a somewhat more limited system, albeit a welcome one when combat kicks in at a real-time pace and doesn’t stand around waiting for you to make a decision.
Vaporum isn’t the first game in this particular scene to go this route, but it’s larger emphasis on managing your inventory more carefully while keeping an eye on the grid around you results in regular action setpieces that ends up feeling as fresh as it does complex. Combine that with environmental puzzles which won’t tickle your grey matter too much and you’ve got a dungeon crawler that modernises aspects of the genres that were sorely in need of an overhaul, while keeping its core elements intact.
Last Updated: October 3, 2017