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Vaporum

Game review by
David Chapman, Common Sense Media
Vaporum Game Poster Image
Steampunk mystery is heavy on nostalgia and repetition.

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A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this game.

Positive Messages

The player is dropped into circumstances without knowledge of who he is or how he got there. His motivation is, justifiably, self-serving as he tries to find answers. It’s a fight for survival wrapped in a mystery.

Positive Role Models & Representations

Players are virtually alone in their exploration of the tower, usually fighting against automatons or strange creatures that are little more than obstacles to overcome.

Ease of Play

The game plays much like a basic point-and-click style adventure, with simplified movement and combat. There’s a fair amount of reading required, as well as inventory management.

Violence

Combat takes place from a first-person perspective, with players using mainly melee and firearm attacks against robotic sentries and unusual creatures. While there’s nothing particularly gory during combat, fighting against living creatures does occasionally show small splashes of blood onscreen.

Sex
Language

Some mild profanity occasionally pops up in dialogue or descriptions, such as “ass” or “damn.”

Consumerism
Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that Vaporum is a downloadable steampunk themed role-playing game for Nintendo Switch, PlayStation 4, and Windows, Mac, and Linux based computers. The game's a “dungeon crawler,” with players exploring the maze-like paths of a massive tower, fighting monsters, collecting items, and uncovering clues to an overarching mystery. Players do come in contact with and fight against various mechanical guards and unusual creatures that inhabit the tower. The violence isn’t particularly graphic in these fights, though there are occasionally some small splashes of blood shown onscreen. Parents should also note that some mild profanity occasionally appears, either through dialogue or in descriptions and flavor text of items picked up during the adventure.

User Reviews

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What's it about?

VAPORUM is a tale of mystery and discovery, set amongst the mechanical backdrop of a steampunk universe. After waking from a disturbing dream with a lingering sense of betrayal, you find yourself stranded on a strange island in the middle of the ocean. Rising from your tiny refuge is a massive metallic tower that seems to beckon to you. With no memory of who you are or how you got there, you’ve no choice but to answer the tower’s call and to, hopefully, find some answers lying within. Players will make your way through a labyrinth of hallways and corridors, fending off the robotic sentries and menacing creatures that inhabit the tower, standing between you and the answers you seek. You'll fight to survive while you explore this unusual structure, piecing together the events that led you here … by uncovering the truth behind the tower’s secrets. Are you simply another cog in its grand machinery, or are you the wrench meant to bring the whole thing crashing back to the depths?

Is it any good?

There’s a lot to be said for nostalgia in video games these days, with various remakes, reboots, and remasters angling for attention. But games like Vaporum attempt to present gamers with an original concept and more modern style, but filtered through the lens of old-school gameplay. The result here is an adventure that looks like something new and fresh, but unfortunately gets a bogged down in an overwhelming sense of déjà vu. The problem here is that it borrows so many elements from so many places, that right from the start, it feels like something you’ve already played before. It’s a lot like those mystery flavored lollipops, where you spend more time trying to figure out where you’ve tasted it before than you do simply enjoying what’s there.

The grid-based movement in Vaporum hearkens back to some of the classic adventure games of days past, but can cause some frustration as well. It’s easy to get turned around while maneuvering through the often claustrophobic halls, which isn’t helped by the fact that a lot of these corridors look the same. And when you do wind up finding a foe in your path, the back and forth timing of attacks has all the depth of a round of Rock ‘Em Sock ‘Em Robots. Despite these issues, Vaporum still has something to offer to adventure fans. The game’s plot, while a little clichéd, has enough intrigue and mystery to keep players’ interests, leaving just enough breadcrumbs behind to let the story unfold at your own pace. The more you explore, the more understanding you get. And in an odd way, the game’s familiarity almost plays into the story, giving both you and your character a shared sense of vague recognition of what lies just under the surface.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about problem solving and video games. How can video games help to improve a person’s problem solving and critical thinking skills? How can the way these skills are used in a game translate over into the real world?

  • What are some of the different ways that video games use to tell their story to the player? Do you prefer to have the story laid out directly in the form of cutscenes, or do you prefer to learn more about the plot and setting on your own, through clues and other such you discover along the way?

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