Doomsday Vault Review
Sometimes it’s nice to sit down with a relaxing game that doesn’t require too much brain power and can be played while listening to an audiobook or watching a movie. In steps Doomsday Vault, developed and published by Flightless. This simplistic puzzle platformer puts players in the role of (presumably) a human in a robot suit on a quest to save plant life on Earth. That’s it. The Doomsday Vault has no real narrative. Earth’s ecosystem has collapsed, and the player is on a mission to save the planet’s remaining plant species and grow them in a vault so they don’t disappear forever. But why did the ecosystem collapse? What terrible disaster has befallen the planet? Areas were flooded, highways collapsed, buildings were empty and abandoned, and there were no people anywhere. However, no explanation was given. It’s also unclear if the player is an actual person inside that robot suit. Despite this lack of clarity, Doomsday Vault offers an enjoyable, calm, somewhat rewarding, albeit unchallenging puzzle experience. In fact, the puzzles are so simple they can hardly be called puzzles. They are more like small obstacles that must be navigated around with very clear solutions placed in front of the player. This is a game that will not confuse anyone. The most difficult aspect of the Doomsday Vault is finding the nutrients needed to grow all the salvaged crops. Missing a container placed in an unknown corner is the only reason to replay the levels. While they are fun for the most part, the levels are pretty short, basic, and don’t have anything that would make one want to revisit them. The robot suit will receive some tool upgrades to get to specific areas, but they are almost never used in later levels, making their introduction almost pointless. It would have been nice if the levels got more complex as the game progressed, requiring creative use of new tools. There was an educational opportunity in the Doomsday Vault, and it seemed that the developers started to take advantage of it but ultimately didn’t pursue it. In the main menu, when selecting which level to play, an image of the seed found in that area is displayed. Selecting the icon in the upper right will provide a short blurb about the plant, its origin, and various uses. Whether this information is fact or fiction is unclear, and it’s doubtful that many gamers will be forced to drop their controller and run to a computer to find out. But these little blurbs show that Flightless probably had a purpose in developing the Doomsday Vault. There’s a vague, implicit message about the fate of the planet and the importance of preserving plant life, but it’s not much more than that. Players collect plants and find batteries for machines called Carbon Eaters, but if there is intended to be a social message about climate change or saving the planet, it is never made clear. In fact, the Doomsday Vault has a strangely soothing atmosphere, which is a stark contrast to the post-apocalyptic setting. Pastel colors and cool music make playing the game a relaxing endeavor. So if Flightless were to send a message, it would be completely lost in the quiet environment of the game. Growing all crops by collecting nutrients hidden in all levels allows the player to unlock suit customization options. This is one of the highlights of the Doomsday Vault. Players can change the pattern and color of the suit, as well as accessories such as helmets, backpacks, belts, and weapons. Not all customization options can be unlocked just by playing through the game, however, as some must be obtained by achieving a certain score in the game’s challenge mode. The challenge missions expand on the core gameplay of Doomsday Vault and are almost more fun than the main game. There are races, mazes, collection and survival challenges, and leaderboards that add a competitive element, and it gives players something to do when they finish the story. However, while entertaining for a while, even the novelty of the challenge mode wears off quickly. And that ultimately is the sticking point for the Doomsday Vault. The game is incredibly short and can be finished in one long play session or multiple bite-sized ones, and any interest it sparks doesn’t last long. It offers an all-around pleasant experience, but isn’t groundbreaking by any means. In fact, it’s likely that many players will completely forget about the game once they’ve completed it. At the end of the game, the developers promise that there are “new missions coming soon.” But considering that Doomsday Vault was originally released for the Apple Arcade over a year and a half ago, one wonders how far “closer” really is. Doomsday Vault is a mobile game that has been ported to other platforms, and this is immediately apparent with the basic controls, simple level design, and huge and clear interaction points. The player moves on a sort of grid with an isometric view, and the controls feel unnecessarily clunky and unresponsive. Turning by accident, running further than intended, and having to really concentrate to get the robot where he wants to be will happen more often than it should. This control scheme might work well on mobile devices or when using the Switch’s touchscreen, but it wasn’t as satisfying to control with a gamepad. Flightless also released a game called Element, which the developers describe as a “real-time strategy space game for people who don’t have time to play a real-time strategy space game.” The same premise seems to be the purpose of Doomsday Vault. This is a puzzle game for people who don’t have the time or energy to challenge themselves with a puzzle game. It was an enjoyable experience, not just an unforgettable one. Doomsday Vault is available on iOS, PC, and Switch. Today Technology has been given the code for the Nintendo Switch version.