As you become older it gets harder and harder to find time to game. With a full-time job, business on the side, writing for the illustrious COIN-OP TV, and working out nearly every day, you have to really really like a game in order to make time for it. For the last week, I’ve made it a point to play Vessel every day because the game really is that fun and addictive. If you spend just a few minutes playing in the steampunk world of living liquid automatons, you’ll be hooked too.
Developed by Strange Loop Games and published by IndiePub, Vessel is a single-player action strategy game in which you play as Arkwright, the inventor of self-aware liquid machines known as Fluro, who is now tasked with stopping them from overrunning Earth. Players are able to manipulate water, lava, steam, and other viscous elements while implementing light platforming aspects to solve clever puzzles strewn all about the game, each one progressively more challenging as the last. If you loved the feeling of solving puzzles in games like Braid, Portal, and Shadow of the Colossus, then you’ll absolutely love playing Vessel. I am aware those are mighty big comparisons, but the compliment is very well merited.
The building blocks of Vessel are not blocks at all, but all of the liquids that you are able to manipulate to achieve your objectives. Some of the early puzzles in the game use concepts as simple as redirecting the flow of water with Fluro to activate switches, but as you progress you’ll have to build upon everything you’ve learned to accomplish increasingly more intricate tasks. By bringing water and lava to life using your Fluro seeds you’ll have to time their demise with opposing elements to create steam, often causing you to scramble your mouse around the screen wishing you had a method to collect and dispense liquid yourself. Thing is, once you solve a series of puzzles in order to build a machine to do this very thing, the puzzles themselves become more challenging. The game is essentially a series of brain-bending rooms comprised of death traps, presumably your own design, filled with replicating beings hell-bent on world domination. Sounds like a fun time to me.
Vessel isn’t all lube containers and steamy situations though; the game does suffer from a few nagging issues. Your character tends to be momentarily unresponsive for a split second at times, making certain puzzles requiring time-sensitive switches or precise movements more frustrating than they really should be. Learning the behaviors of each element you interact with is also key to survival, as running water behind you can turn time spent assessing your situation into a forceful wave of water that will shove you right into the lava flow you were trying to avoid in the first place.
With an engrossing atmosphere and increasingly satisfying puzzles to solve, Vessel is the perfect action puzzle game to spend a few days and nights with. Masterfully manipulate the elements around you and take back the world from the automatons you set loose, being sure to learn their attributes and the behaviors of the specialty Fluro you collect and create yourself and you’ll have a thoroughly enjoyable experience. Spend enough time in the fun world of Vessel, and you too will be cautiously drinking water for days.
Vessel is available to download on Steam now for only $14.99!