Ever heard of Canabalt? Well, if you have, then Vector should look and feel familiar to you. This is an auto-running platformer where you jump on rooftops and smash into buildings while escaping from a totalitarian regime. What’s unique about Vector is that alongside traditional platforming mechanics, it features jaw-dropping acrobatic stunts inspired by Parkour.
The premise of Vector is great. Set in an Orwellian world, the minute long prologue shows you escaping the shackles of the totalitarian regime in search of freedom. But Big Brother sends his henchmen after you, so you got to out-run them by jumping, climbing and sliding you way over and under obstacles that line your path.
What’s unique and different about Vector is that your hero is a master of the art of Parkour, an urban ninja sport. While escaping, he pulls off seemingly outrageous moves such as backflips, bar jumps, split vaults and double kongs. These are just a joy to look at and they may even serve as a motivation for people to continue playing the game.
A stand-out feature of Vector is the impressive character animations and physics. The movement of the limbs as your character jumps, falls, climbs, rolls, slides, runs into a wall, hits the edge of a building while speed-jumping or executes a daredevil stunt all feels so real and lifelike.
You control your character using swipe gestures. Swipe up to jump, down to slide and right to accelerate. In the second world, you swipe left and right in quick succession for wall climbing, and left to slow down. Meanwhile, to activate the tricks, you need to swipe up as you pass through the trick icon.
The controls are hard to grasp initially as you will need to be very precise with your swipes. Some people may even think that the controls are flawed, but after spending many hours playing the game I understand the way they work and they seem perfect now. While some would prefer virtual buttons instead, I believe the swipe gestures make the game more intense and lively.
Though simply getting through the levels can be quite a challenge in itself, where things really start to heat up is when you attempt to get perfect scores. As in every platformer, timing is the most important factor. Each level has got a certain number of boxes spread over it, and to get a perfect score, you’ll need to collect them all as well as execute all the tricks in that level.
Vector is not without its flaws. For one, the base gameplay feels a tad too slow. I would have preferred it to be faster. Then there are a series of performance issues. The game drops framerates all too often, which somewhat cheapens the playing experience. Navigating through the menus is also a pain as everything takes five seconds to respond to your input, and loading times are annoyingly long. The controls at the initial stage might turn-off potential suitors too as they don’t perform consistently until you’ve spent sufficient time to master them.
While Vector is downloadable for free, I recommend you get the ‘Duluxe’ version which runs for $0.99 and can be bought by making an in-app purchase. This removes ads, rewards you for every star collected and gives access to bonus levels. IAPs for coins are present as well in Vector, but if you three-star every level (which mind you is no easy task!), you will get more than enough coins to unlock all the special moves.
My experience with Vector was kind of mixed. Initially, I liked it (mostly due to the character animation and awesome stunts), but once that novelty wore-off I felt it was too bland and lacked that special ingredient to keep my attention. However, once I unlocked the second world, things became more exciting with the introduction of a few new mechanics.
Also, once I started trying to perfect each level, I saw that the game had more depth than it initially seemed. Indeed, the controls can be frustrating at times and the various performance issues take some shine away from the game, but seeing your nameless hero perfectly executing stunts that most of us can only dream of just about makes up for it.
Overall rating: 3.5/5