Games for the Weekend is a weekly feature aimed at helping you avoid doing something constructive with your downtime. Each Friday we’ll be recommending a game for Mac, iPhone or iPad that we think is awesome. Here is one cool enough to keep you busy during this weekend.
Vector ($0.99 iPhone, $0.99 iPad) is a side-scrolling runner that mimics the street gymnastics of modern day free running. Given the fact that the character in the game is attempting to free himself from a mind controlling regime, there is more of the philosophy of parkour, which is free running with the intent of expressing your own freedom, at play here.
As a practitioner of parkour, your traceur as they are referred to, starts every level running from the authorities. As obstacles present themselves, you have to decide how you want to get around them. For instance, there is a water tower obstacle in the game that you can either jump up and climb over, or slide under from a distance. Sliding under the water tower is quicker, and helps increase your distance from the authorities that are chasing you. Jumping up and climbing over the water tower on the other hand could allow you to grab extra coins that may be stashed atop the water tower. It’s up to you how you approach each obstacle.
There are two major environments to choose from, with a third new environment on its way via a future update. Each environment has 57 levels to complete. There is a countdown timer on each level where the faster you complete each level, the faster you earn your stars. These stars are important as they unlock various elements throughout the game. The second environment, Construction Yard, will only unlock when you earn 25 stars in the first environment, Downtown. With each level giving up a maximum of three stars, you will need to complete at least seven levels Downtown before you can take a chance on jumping into the Construction Yard.
Along the way you also collect coins that can be used to increase your character’s abilities. You can purchase gadgets, tricks and gear with these coins. The gadgets can buy you extra time, slow things down to help you perform difficult combinations, and even stun the authorities when they get too close. Don’t be too quick to purchase a hoard of coins through the in-app purchase, as many of the items you will want to purchase are only unlocked when you achieve a certain number of stars in each environment. The game does truly reward your skill rather than block you from advancing until you pay.
Increasing your character’s abilities is important as each level requires a different skillset. If you do not have a skill, you are offered a chance to purchase the skill at the beginning of the level. If you do not have enough coins, you can either go back and try to improve your score and earn more coins on previous levels, or make your way to the store to purchase more. I have tried completing levels without all of the necessary skills just to see what would happen, and it ended up being much more challenging than I expected. After gaining the recommended skill I was missing, passing the level was much easier.
Stars are also used in the game to unlock bonus levels. Each of the 57 levels in each environment also has an accompanying bonus level. After achieving the right number of stars, previous levels you have already completed unlock their bonus levels. This is a great way to go back and play previous levels and collect some more stars and earn some extra coins. You never really can play each level exactly the same way, so going back to play earlier levels with newly acquired skills can be more fun the second time.
The opening cut scene looks like it is taken from Apple’s famous 1984 commercial with a single authority figure speaking to a mindless society. While the backstory explaining why you are running is a nice addition to a game of this genre, it is the variations you can apply to your jumps that keeps the gameplay interesting. You will play Vector this weekend, you will enjoy playing Vector this weekend, everything has already been thought of for you, you have no choice.