4cr Plays – escapeVektor

by Antonio Garcia

Can you help Vektor in his attempt to escape his digital prison?

Nnooo (still pronounced as “no”) released escapeVektor on the 3DS eshop at the tail end of 2012 and after playing it from start to finish AND completing every single level the game has to offer, I feel like this retro-stylish game deserves a review.

escapeVektor was first released on Wiiware in 2011, and was described as “Chapter 1″ of a planned 4-part series. Somewhere along the road plans changed and Nnooo decided it would be best to bring the full package to the 3DS eshop. escapeVektor features 150 levels that have been polished as much as possible, and they are split between story levels (split into 4 chapters in-game) and bonus levels you can access by finding a second exit on some of the main levels.

Explaining how to play escapeVector is slightly complicated. Watching this video will make it easier to understand before I try to explain it outright.

You’re tasked with moving around each cell while changing its color to match your color, while also avoiding enemies and traps set by the CPU to stop you at all cost. Once you’ve completely colored all the cells in a level, the exit appear and you must quickly get to it. As soon as the exit is open an alarm will go off and enemies will be faster and deadlier while they try to destroy you before you can complete the current node.

As you progress through the game you are awarded experience points depending on your score on the node you have just completed. These points allow you to obtain new abilities or improve the ones you have already unlocked. The abilities and upgrades you gain access to are as follows:

* Detonation: You can hit a button to create a small explosion that can kill any enemy within its radius. This uses up one of the detonations in your current stock.
-Additional Pips – allow the player to hold more detonations at one time
-Radius Upgrade – makes the detonation cover a bigger area destroying more foes at once
* Boost: Allows you to move faster while holding a button. This ability drains a special bar that you fill up by coloring in the cells.
- Increased capacity – allows the user to hold more boost
* Super Boost: Greatly increases your speed when boosting
- Increased speed – allows the user to travel even faster while Super Boosting
* Boostenate: Wouldn’t it be great if you could become invincible while you boost so that your enemies are destroyed as you speed right into them? That is what boostenate is for! It drains both the boost bar and the detonations you have in stock, so be careful.
- Decreased drain rate – allows the user to Boostenate for longer

Remember how I mentioned that some levels have a second exit? These exits usually lead to shortcuts or to extra nodes that unlock bonus zones with more levels. While the levels in bonus zones aren’t entirely new, they are remixes of the levels from the main zones. Be that as it may, you will have to play these levels differently because the two special modes have specific rules:

- Timed mode: You must reach the exit before time runs out… and time WILL run out while you’re trying to race to the exit!
- Eraser mode: You have to be careful in this mode because you can’t go over a part of the node you have already colored. Backtracking will erase sections which will have to be recolored again! This is made even harder by the enemies and obstacles on each level.

Every single node in the game features a leaderboard that will allow you to compare your score with other players in your region, with your friends, and with players that are closest to your current score for the node. Not detonating in a node will allow you to greatly increase your score since all cells will be filled at the same time when you color in the last line, destroying every enemy at once and bumping up your total. This would normally allow you to place in the leaderboard for the node… but there is an extra element that makes sure you don’t take the top spot that easily: wildcards. Wildcards are items which allow you to double your final score for a node! You activate them before starting a node, and you have a limited number to use. If you activate one and die in the node (or quit), you loose that wildcard and must spend another one to activate the x2 bonus. You can get more wildcards every time you set a new personal record on the leaderboard of a node or you can get a wildcard for every 24 hours of game time (as marked by the internal 3DS clock). The max number of wildcards you can have at the same time is 150, but if you’re aggressively using them to get to the top 3 in the leaderboards you will definitely never have over 50 wildcards at once.

escapeVektor is a fun and fast-paced game with a minimist art style that keeps you focused on the action. It took me almost 20 hours to complete every single level (but I did go back to several to get to the #1-2 spot on each leaderboard) and, at only $9.99, this game has a lot of content to offer and is well worth the investment.