Developed by Friend and Foe Games Published by Friend and Foe Games Reviewed on PlayStation 4
Vane is a very unique experience. A short, but intriguing experience. The vector heavy art style is very impressive since beauty in desolation is actually one of my favorite concepts in art. Vane pulls this off incredibly well and makes an effort to tell a story without uttering a sensible word. Sometimes you just have to wander a bit trying to find what you need to do next. The puzzles are simplistic and initially somewhat obtuse. The goals are not always totally obvious but after a small amount of exploring the it’ll become clear. The puzzles do grant satisfaction with your progress and seeing what comes next.
The world is a desolate desert and you are a raven. By discovering a strange golden essence your form changes into a child. As things progress you must change between child and raven form using this golden essence. As a child you can move certain objects and trigger sound related obstacles. As a raven you can fly and and use the Murder of Crows ability to achieve that which you cannot as a human. Each puzzle solved brings you to the next part of this desolated place.
The game uses a very interesting style of synthy, almost tribal music to let you know how much progress you are making. The world can be quiet save for some sparse ambient noise.When you begin to make progress the soundtrack begins a bit subtly. As you progress even further it becomes a powerful blast from the 70s. This is even further enhanced by the atmosphere of loneliness the world already creates. About the halfway mark, you’ll discover ravens who have been trapped in cages with a large amount of golden essence beneath their cages. The first human contact you establish does not make you feel any less like you are in a wasteland and things only become stranger from there.
Why does this golden essence change birds into people? What is the reason the world is the way it is? None it is ever really explained. The ending is one that I almost did not fully comprehend. Still, I was intrigued and anxious to find out as things took several sharp turns into trippy territory. I was very much compelled to find out what was going to happen next.
The environments will become more alien and mysterious, tantalizing players to continue onward. Unfortunately due to a couple of gameplay issues I ran into my progress was frustratingly halted for a couple of hours. The flying controls for the raven form are a little odd. As a bird you need to flap your wings to pick up height and speed, using angles to swoop to gain and maintain that speed. The controls feel a bit awkward and clunky as it makes it hard to perch on certain points, which you’ll need to do for the pieces of certain puzzles. I also encountered bugs that caused me to fall through the map and then had to use the raven controls to get back from the void I had fallen into. Thankfully, Friend and Foe Games released a patch that fixed the issue.
The story is a trippy and interesting experience that’s well worth the journey even if its not completely comprehensible. It took me about 5 1/2 hours to complete Vane and completing the game loops you back to the beginning with the credits. It’ll feel like there is more to explore and look forward to. Hopefully players will take on this dazzlingly brief journey.