Vandals is a cute puzzle game, with beautiful graphics and gameplay similar to Hitman GO.
Genre: Casual, Puzzle
Novelab, Ex Nihilo
Publisher: ARTE France
Release date: 12 Apr, 2018
In Vandals you play with a simple mission: make graffiti all over the world without getting caught. You can get as creative as you want when spraying on the walls using different colors and spray sizes.
Main pros and cons
When you start the game, the first thing that shows up is the tutorial level. There, you are shown the basics of movement controls and you get to choose your “vandal nickname”. Right after that, you can start the actual levels.
This game can also be played on smartphones and you can see that from the main menu and the user interface itself. While some people are almost allergic to that, I don’t really mind – I think it looks stylish and simple enough to enable comfortable playing.
There are, however, some things that bother me when it comes to the menus and basically all text in Vandals. The developers are from France and sadly, they didn’t do a good enough job translating the text. Many words are misspelled, and some things like achievement descriptions are not translated at all. Don’t worry about this too much though – the game is still very much playable despite this.
Let’s talk about the gameplay for a bit. You control a vandal around a small street and you can only follow the line drawn on the ground. The game is turn-based and each turn, you either move one unit further or do some other action. For example, you may throw distracting items like empty bottles on the ground to lure the guards away and clear your path. As I mentioned above, playing this game really reminded me of playing Hitman GO, one of the games in the Square Enix mobile to PC series.
There are 60 levels altogether and they are all really entertaining in my opinion. Each of the five available cities is featured in its own level pack. Offering multiple cities feels like a really good design choice to me – it allowed the developers to make the levels much more visually appealing and prevent players from getting bored after playing in the same in-game environment for too long.
Levels themselves tend are often not too hard to complete, but the real challenge is getting all three stars every time. This usually requires you to complete the level below a certain number of moves, staying undiscovered by enemies and picking special bonus stars which appear somewhere in the level. I’ve been tempted several times to replay a level after needing too many moves to finish it, so I feel like this adds a lot to the replayability value.
A neat addition to this otherwise quite unusual puzzle game is the graffiti-making bit at the end of each level. You can basically draw anything you want on the wall. There are about ten colors to do this with and if you want, you can also adjust the size of your spray. This felt fun for the first few levels, but afterwards, I usually just wiggled the mouse a bit to get to the next screen. I still think it’s a nice little gimmick, though, and I’m sure many people enjoy it. The spraying is actually really well-programmed – dragging your mouse around creates cool “spray fog” effects and if the paint dribbles down the wall if you spray onto one point for too long.
Apart from the great art style, I would also like to point out the soundtrack is also quite enjoyable. Electronic beats that accompany the gameplay really fit the atmosphere of a simplistic, yet thrilling action puzzle game.
I do have one major complaint, though. While playing this game, my graphics card seemed to have struggled with it quite a lot. Nothing I did really helped, even using the smallest quality settings and setting the resolution to the smallest one available was to no avail. The card itself was making funny noises and the software I use for tracking the temperatures of my computer’s hardware parts showed that the temperature of the graphics card was approaching suspiciously high levels. The very same thing happened when I wanted to use my laptop instead – I thought something was wrong with my computer. The fans started going crazy after just a few minutes. This never happens with other Unity games, so I’m not really sure what was the cause of this. Other people don’t seem to have problems like this, though.
If you are a fan of achievements, you may want to know that this game has 17 of them. They appear to be quite difficult, however – four of them were never unlocked by anyone on Steam so far. Also, the descriptions are in French, which will make it harder to figure out what they actually require you to do.
Overall, I think this game really isn’t bad. I usually like puzzle games and this one was no exception. I’m not really sure about the €4.5 price tag though, especially since you can get it cheaper for your smartphone.
If you enjoyed playing Hitman GO or if Vandals just looks interesting to you, you should probably go ahead and give it a try – especially if you see it discounted.