It’s been a while since I’ve played a classic Resident Evil title, so when Vaccine popped up in my eshop, I was immediately interested. Vaccine is a PS1 Resident Evil inspired indie game by a one-man studio, Rainy Night Creations. With its nostalgic pre-rendered backgrounds and tank-controls, does it live up to the series it’s inspired by?
Just like Resident Evil, you are able to choose one of two characters.
The Infection Spreads….
Vaccine claims to be “…new approach on Survival Horror…”. You choose from two characters in a spooky house, and depending on the one you pick, the other will be infected. You are given 30 minutes to find a vaccine for your fellow comrade or the game is over. You start in a room with a knife and a piece of paper with random text to set the atmosphere, then you step forth into the house which is randomly generated.
The game’s idea is simple enough but I question the claim of being “…new approach on Survival Horror…”. Its essentially a Resident Evil that never ends. Once you find the vaccine, your partner will relapse and you have to find another. Nothing new here, honestly. A basic story and randomly generated rooms. This isn’t the first horror game to do this. Phantasmal is also a randomly generated horror game that was released just last year on Steam. Seems like they were a bit late to the party, but just because they aren’t the first doesn’t mean the game is bad. Just consider it a nitpick. Many devs like to oversell their games.
Old-school visuals really hit the sweet spot for me
The game controls in a classic RE style. Pressing forward on the control stick moves the character while moving left and right will turn your character around. Many people like to bash tank controls, but I honestly have no problem with them. As long as the game was designed for that control type, it wont hinder your experience at all. This is the case for Vaccine. The turn around and overall movement speed is very quick. It still has a bit of a sluggish feel to it, but it was designed for the controls in mind so I don’t pay it much mind. The biggest issue I have with movement controls is the lack of 180 degree turns. Many times I’ve found myself wanting to quickly turn around and escape but I’m simply not given the option. This is the biggest flaw of the movement by far. Your best bet is to back up for abnormally long, and then try and turn around. If you are in a small room, then good luck.
Aiming your weapon and everything is as you expect. Shoulder buttons puts your character in attack mode and then you attack with the A button. The A button, when not in attack mode, is used to interact with everything else. For some reason, in this game, I find it satisfying to open the doors. That’s probably just me.
The gameplay is insultingly easy. You start out with a knife in the beginning room before you set off. Killing zombies, the main enemies of the game, is disappointingly lack luster. Not at any point in the game did I feel I was in danger. With four swings with a knife, you’ll take down your enemies in no time. There are other enemies as well such as birds, rats and crawlers. Crawlers are incredibly hard. They move fast and their attacks are deadly as hell. In fact, crawlers are the reason not having 180 degree turns makes it an aggravating experience. Without a gun, you’ll be killed within seconds. Game over. Too bad. If you spent almost 30 minutes on the level, it really hurts your feelings. You’re having a good time till the school bully takes your lunch money.
Besides combat, you’ll be exploring the house searching for keys, and pieces to puzzles to solve. Scavenge for items in each room and do your best to survive. This part of the game is a bit annoying in itself. Items and weapons blend in with the backgrounds making super easy to walk past important, mandatory items. Many times you’ll walk past a pistol, only to find a crawler behind the next door. Don’t worry about running, in the words of Kenshiro…“You are already dead”.
On top of all this is a leveling mechanic. While you fight and survive your way through the house, you earn experience. Upgrade your Stamina, Health, Luck, Aiming, etc. Its a cool idea until you realize that these levels don’t carry over from each new house. This means, every time you start again, your stats are reset. It makes me question its even in the game in the first place. Its not like the system makes it in-depth or anything. Much like the game, its too simple of a mechanic to flesh it out. I guess its a nice distraction to give you a reason to open up the horrible menu UI. Speaking of the item menu, did I mention it was horrible. Its confusing to navigate. You press down to select something and the cursor moves somewhere you didn’t expect it too. Even if you have what you want selected, the color of the indicator sorta blends in with the menu so it takes a second to look and see if its correct.
I invited all my friend for dinner but no one came.
The Final Resting Place
Vaccine is a nice throwback title. It feels like I’m playing a PS1 era horror game. However with its simplistically easy gameplay, and awful item management UI, it doesn’t offer much. Even in the sound department is about as barren. Enemies give almost no sound, and if they do, its buried by the music. I enjoyed my playthroughs of the game, but it won’t keep your attention for long. Its basic setup however may be ideal for the Nintendo Switch.
Its quick and easy to jump into, and a great game to pass the time by when you want to play some classic RE styled games on the go. Its not a bad game. Its really not. Its just not a great game either. I really don’t see why anyone should buy it or, would buy it on any other platform. It doesn’t have the content or depth for a person to come back unless they are bored. I do believe however it would make a great game to play on the go. You can get Vaccine on the Xbox One, PS4, Wii U, Nintendo Switch, and Steam for just $10. Even at that price, I feel it shouldn’t be more than $6 with what you are given for the price tag. Perhaps, I’m not cutting the one man studio enough slack? It does give that PS1 era feel that it was aiming for.