Since the advent of games such as Journey, Flower, and Flow, we’ve seen many video games tell deep, emotional tales. Vane attempts to follow in the footsteps of these giants but does it deliver? The only way to find out is to play the game for yourself or trust this review. One should note that each person’s experience will definitely be different though based on how they interpret the story.
In Vane players will at first take on the role of a child escaping some sort of apocalyptic event. There are epic winds, fierce lightning and thunderous roars as the ground literally falls apart in front of you. Players will have to seek refuge while carrying some sort of object and eventually upon finding the right place to go, things escalate even further.
The entire world fades away and soon afterwards you assume the form of a Raven. Sitting on a dying tree in a lifeless desert wasteland, Vane does very little to explain itself to you. Players will have to fly as the Raven throughout the desert in search of life or the lack thereof as they try to progress in the story. There are no hints, waypoints, or any sort of indication as to where to go and it’s entirely up to you to decide in which direction you’re going to fly off. Players might end up spending a significant portion of time endlessly flying around hoping something will happen.
Eventually, though, you’ll come across some other birds and an oasis of sorts. This does draw you in further, but the severe lack of direction can be felt as it causes frustration. After a while, you’ll come across a cave and this is where things become even more complicated. In the cave, you can land in a pile of shiny lights and transform back into a human child. As the child, you’ll have to climb up to the top of the cave and solve a puzzle which leads you back into the desert. Shortly after it’s back to being a Raven again.
Vane thus transforms into a puzzle solving exercise with the human and Raven forms being necessary to complete the puzzles the game has on offer. This is all well and good apart from the fact that the game makes it excruciatingly difficult for you to get things done. The child form you assume walks at a painfully slow pace and the controls are quite iffy at best. Flying as the Raven is another exercise in patience since taking off from the ground can lead to getting stuck on objects as the camera is flung around. The flight mechanics also take some getting used to and it’s quite easy to overshoot a landing and miss your target completely.
The camera control is Vane is quite frankly, atrocious. More often than not, the camera will be thrown around and will try its best to snap back to the center of the screen. This is disorienting and can make navigation extremely hard. That said, Vane does its best to keep you interested with symbolism and visual storytelling. The gorgeous graphics and art style were enough to captivate me and I pushed on through to the end despite the flaws. The sound design in Vane is great for an indie developer and there’s nothing to complain about here to be quite honest.
Overall Vane is an average puzzle platforming title with flight mechanics and exploration at its heart. The game isn’t bad but the severe lack of direction and the fact that the camera does incredibly frustrating things leaves an unsightly scar on an otherwise beautiful game. Hopefully, the developers will be able to patch the title in the future and improve it. As it stands right now, Vane is a budget buy that’s worth playing if you’re interested in struggling through a 2 to 4 hour long campaign that’s steeped in visual symbolism.