Taking the bronze award for 2019, we have an indie game that came out right at the beginning of the year. Vision Soft Reset looks very unassuming, but this is an amazing concept for a game that just got buried under all the games being released.
Vision Soft Reset is essentially a metroidvania by way of Majora’s Mask. You have 20 minutes to stop the end of the world from occurring and your only way of doing that is to explore an island and figure out what happened while growing in power.
From a control standpoint, the game feels great, with different movement options and abilities that can be combined to get around. Time manipulation is a big part of the game — either rewinding time if you get stuck or using information learned in one timeline to affect your next.
The game features two kinds of upgrades: those that unlock new abilities and are permanent, and incidental upgrades that are only active in the timeline you get them. This creates an interesting dynamic of figuring out how much time you must spend collecting them and if you can fit that in with all the other things you have to do. To officially beat the game, you need to perform a “perfect run” to get all the necessary items within the 20-minute period.
I also must give a shoutout for the combat of the game. While it is all 2D action, you are given the exact pathing and attacks that will occur. Instead of having to memorize patterns, combat becomes a game of figuring out how to avoid what’s coming without using up your precious time rewind powers.
The most amazing thing about Vision Soft Reset was that it was the first metroidvania title from the developer. When I spoke with him on a developer cast, he talked about the time spent perfecting the mechanics and knowing what he wanted the game to be. As a first attempt, this game beats other titles from larger studios in terms of understanding what metroidvania design is.
With that said, it does have some issues that stem from not being able to do a lot of playtesting and running out of time. The puzzles can become frustrating to solve and can lead to some unintentional difficulty spikes. Speaking to the developer on our cast, he came out and said that he ran out of time to develop the game which leaves the ending and final battle being rushed.
Still, Vision Soft Reset is an amazing game and a perfect example of what a metroidvania title is. The more you play, the more tools become unlock that change how you play through the game. Given the fact that you are searching for that perfect run through, these new mechanics become essential in terms of changing your way of moving through the world.
And with that, we’re down to #2 for our next piece, and it’s the surprising return of survival horror from the AAA industry.
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