There are few games simple yet powerful enough to lull you into a false sense of security, then hit you with personal emotional conflict. Vidar, an RPG puzzle game that recently ran a successful kickstarter, was successfully Greenlit on Steam, and was interviewed at MAGFest by Indie Game Riot, tugs the heart strings. It hurts so good each time you play.
This review is based off of an interview with the developer, Dean Razavi, and the downloaded demo played at MAGFest 13 and on home computer. Full Disclosure, Tekedo has backed the Vidar Kickstarter.
Vidar puts you in control of “the stranger”, an adventurer who has come into Vidar as the winter storms and mysterious monsters threaten to wipe out the entire population. Life is fleeting in Vidar, and as such, each night, including the first time you start, a villager dies. This has a strange effect on the landscape of the game, as it is random who dies each night. Each death effects different people within the town, as they all had their own relationship with them, maybe friend, maybe foe, and changes their attitudes and mood they express to you. The more you play, the more people die, and the smaller Vidar gets, until you win. This interaction becomes very potent, as you start new games, and have different people die. As you learn the relationships and connections within the town, you begin to feel bad for those left alive. Some one is going to loose a friend, or a parent, and the way it is handled within the game is clean, simple, and something brutally real.
While talking with the characters within the game is nice, there is far more to Vidar than watching people fade away. Vidar handles it’s randomly generated puzzles by sending the stranger on quests, which have him sliding on ice, flipping switches, racing against the clock, and stretching your brain as you try to figure out each new challenge. The puzzles do not have a set difficulty, but are being tested on time of completion to get a rounded challenge based off of how players, like those at MAGFest demoing the game, completed the puzzles.. The end result is, so far, puzzles that are challenging, but could be solved in around 5 minutes. There was one instance of a puzzle that I concluded was impossible due to how it generated. (A piece of ice broke on the only path to the next platform, although I could have been mistaken about how to solve the puzzle)
There is still a lot to be seen from Dean Razavi, and Vidar. The demo of the game is a powerful taste of the full game, but there is still much development left, with an expected release date of March 2016, one year after the writing of this review. Some puzzles still need to be ironed out, art assets are being added, and hopefully player control; which personally felt off and non-fluid on keyboard, will be ironed out. That being said, there is a lot going for this little game, with passionate developers working to make it perfect for an audience hopefully in March of next year.