Paradox Vector

PC

I’m a sucker for a pretty screenshot. Paradox Vector’s bright colours lured me in like a moth to a Tron convention. And I’m rather glad, as this is a very smart first-person shooter-cum-puzzle game, set in non-Euclidean space, and rendered in faux-old-school vector graphics.

Currently in Early Access, the game is described as currently “just a demo”, and yet there’s a really good amount here already to get stuck into. I’ve had a lovely afternoon haring around its glowing corridors and neon gardens, seeking out new dungeons to explore, line-y enemies to blast, and coloured keys to gather. Oh, and having my head scrambled by its refusal to adhere to geographic norms.

While meddling with the linearity of reality is hardly new for first person games, what I love about how Paradox Vector delivers its impossible corridors is the speed. Normally when exploring corners to find real life is looping impossibly, that you’ve taken five right-angled right turnss and appeared somewhere else, it’s done with a pace that ensures you take it all in. Here you’re zipping about almost (but not quite) as fast an old-school FPS, and realising your shredding of the Euclid’s surviving texts as you zip on by.

Start on the ground floor, enter a corridor, go right, go right again, and now you’re on a bridge crossing the floor you were just on. See another bridge above you, a corridor ahead, and you can predict the impossible route. Or perhaps there’s a large structure in the middle of the room, with a corridor passing through its middle. Run all the way through it to prove this to yourself, and then turn around to see that in the other direction the corridor stretches off to a whole other place.

I especially enjoyed a fast-flowing digital river, in which I was rapidly drawn downward, descending waterfall after waterfall, before eventually plummeting down to the point where I’d first stepped in.

The most recent time I saw puzzles like these was in my chum Jim’s The Signal From Tölva. So I’m delighted to find a game that’s putting them front and centre here.

It’s Early Access, with five or so months left before the planned release, with lots of plans for new levels, a more open design, and many more puzzles. And apparently it’ll be three times more expensive on final release, so with enough in here already to be a satisfying experience, now’s a great moment to grab it.

It also means there’s still time to not have the bloody Cthulhu plot that is currently inexplicably sewn in there on some lore-delivering statues. No! Stop it everyone! You can come up with your own ideas! Not least when the game has as much in common with Lovecraft as a not-racist cheese sandwich.

It looks lovely (although I’m not the biggest fan of the blue smudges around the outside of the image – apparently something to reduce motion sickness, but I’d love to switch them off), and plays very smoothly, the sprint jumps a pleasure to execute, and the guns fun to fire. And most of all, it’s a collection of splendidly impossible puzzles. Well, they’re currently fairly easy, but you know what I mean.

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