Vessel Review

By Rob Manuel - Posted Mar 21, 2012

Welcome to the world of Vessel. Living water going went on strike and you are the only man who can whip them back into shape. This physics-puzzler slowly puts you throw the ringer as you not only have to move liquid, but move the simple minded Fluro to get your masterpiece moving again. For any fan of steam punk or just a good brainteaser, this is surely one puzzle you can't pass up.

The Pros
  • Creative use of both fluid and AI mechanics
  • Very forgiving
  • Amazing world filled with sights and music
The Cons
  • Solutions can be a little messy
  • Added bonuses not really a bonus
  • Story doesn't really come together

Vessel Review:

Imagine a species created just to die. They live, love, and sacrifice their little fluid bodies to power machines and keep our world running one cog at a time. But somewhere along the way, something about them changed. A spark, an idea, a defect; whatever it might have been it spread and mutated across the colony creating new life when before there was only uniformity before. In a single act of rebellion, the creatures known as Fluros, an entity of living liquid, shuts their master out of his own house, and corrupts the rest of his machinery.

Instead of playing as the rebels in Vessel, you throw on the starched lab coat of their master, M. Arkwright, as he tries to solve the mystery of their sudden uprising as well as put together his greatest invention, The Accelerator. Vessel incorporates both physics-based puzzles with that of AI commands as you try to navigate your way through locked doors, broken turbines, and a small squishy army of Fluros. If you’ve been looking for a puzzler with plenty of charm and character, then strap on your goggles. Then we have one steam punk puzzler is about to take you on one hell of a ride.




Let’s just cut to the chase. The puzzles play around with the physics of the world just as much as they’ll play around with your mind. The gang over at Strange Loop Games really does an amazing job incorporating the weight of the world into every lever, crank, and fearful Fluro running around in the world. Every drop of water feels as though it has it’s own weight as it flows over surfaces and sometimes sticks to your character. Once you assemble your fluid catcher, which has more than just a passing resemblance to certain Mario Fludd device, the world opens up both mechanically and literally, but more on that later.

After spending most of the game swinging on hooks and moving around liquid, you might be surprised to find that Vessel really incorporates this great artificial intelligence aspect to the puzzles, taking this puzzler past the level of simple physics-based gameplay. Specific Fluro react differently when given certain stimulation: lights, water sources, and even your character for example. Puzzles become less about moving liquid and more about manipulation. Once you gain access to the Fluro seed, think of them dehydrated versions of the real thing; you really start to think about combining behaviors to get what you want. And that can get messy.

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As a physics-based puzzler, solutions tend to come out a little dirty, which is no fault of the developers. It’s just the nature of the beast or in this case, the Fluro. With so much depending on the laws developed in this world, it doesn’t all work out the first time. Not to spoil anything, but one puzzle required something close to an explosion in an engine to get a conveyor belt started. I did everything right but the explosion wasn’t quite big enough to set the engine in motion. Worse yet, the piston had move to a position where the explosion would no longer reach it. Reset the puzzle. Start again. Fortunately, the game easily allows you to reset and start again, but it’s an annoyance that tripped me on more than one occasion.

Subsequently, you could lose a little weight. Not you, personally, but your character feels a little too weighty in certain sections that require making precise jumps. Vessel is far from a platformer and these jumps are few and far between. But as with the puzzles, missing a jump or getting killed for stumbling is annoying more than anything else. With such an amazing experience from the environment to the music, these little annoyances tend to stand out while playing this brilliant title.


Do What You Can

Once the world opens up, you take on different sections with their own unique puzzles. The build up from one brainteaser to the next keeps you on a steady pace without throwing something wild at you from out of nowhere. If there’s anything you can say about Vessel, it’s forgiving. The good group over at Strange Loop is not in the business to make you suffer. Instead, most puzzles let you simply walk by them. Now you do have to solve enough of them to proceed to the final area, but hitting the start button allows players to skip around to puzzles you have not yet solved. On top of that, they save some of the trickier quandaries for special sections where you can earn special fluid to construct more nozzles and more tank storage. If they only helped you out…

And that’s just it, the puzzles work without any special devise or item that you need to gain from another section. Even the materials you might need like extra water are readily available for anyone in need. Added extras don’t take anything away from the game, but I wished that the bonus you gained didn’t apply to the puzzles. Maybe for a couple of tanks, the game grants me a phonograph with a snippet of the soundtrack or some of the original concept art.


Give Me Steam

Sliding through chutes or climbing ladders, Vessel lets you get a quick eyeful of the action hidden behind the rocky surface ad the little Fluro go along their daily lives. Layers of background beneath the scenes reveal life outside of the puzzles. Outside one window, we catch a glimpse of zeppelins passing by, the steam punk world come to life through the sacrifice of a little gel. In the distance of the sunken mines, Fluros hop through their little openings left in the caves from the glowing green goo dripping from the walls. Vessel creates not only some amazing puzzles, but also a complete world to put them in.

And the music – one cannot forget about the floating tones that rise and fall throughout the world. The notes fit the theme – fresh technology with an old fashioned feel to it. On more than one occasion, I swore that the music began to swell as I slowly put together each of the remaining parts of a puzzle. You’ll forget all the little plot holes like forgetting the keys to your own home, and fall deeply into the world lay before you.


Full of Fun… and Fluro

Vessel brings art, music, and some great puzzles to the table. Though messy and not always perfect, anyone who loves playing around with water will want to get their hands dirty with this title.