Vibrant from Auburn Sounds
Vibrant from Auburn Sounds is a fast-paced arcade shooter that first saw the light of day 15 years ago.
You Read That Right: 15 years Ago
Originally titled vector2d.exe, Vibrant started off as an MS-DOS program in 2002, already a time when MS-DOS was considered outdated. The developer intended to create a triangle rendering engine, and from that idea Vibrant went through several changes over the years to eventually become the finished product we have today. After many years of trial and error, reworking and restructuring, Vibrant finally has a home on Steam.
Released by France-based audio plug-in developer Auburn Sounds – better known for their high quality audio plug-ins for music production – Vibrant’s central focus is just that: focus. As frantic as gameplay can be, this is a game that feels casual yet requires a great amount of focus and attention.
Keep Your Focus
Very simple controls keep Vibrant accessible to all players. A small ship is controlled by either keyboard controls or an Xbox controller. I found the latter more fluid and enjoyable. As the ship zips through the levels, basic shooting and turbo boost functions are available, as well as an interesting option to lasso in power-ups or enemy ships. The small ship will bounce off of walls, making trajectory the player’s greatest asset for movement. I found my play style consisted of holding down the turbo button for 90% of the time while constantly shooting. (I’m sometimes known to have a few “Leeroy Jenkins” qualities while gaming.)
Vibrant has a certain quick charm to it that is also tied in with the soundtrack. It does a great job of sucking you in and maintaining your focus on the visuals. The subtle electronic pumping of the bass combined with aggressive sound design that varies based on player movement and level progression is the driving force of Vibrant. The developer wanted players to lose themselves in the music and visuals while playing. I would recommend playing with headphones or a solid sound system. A sub-woofer is a must. For those audiophiles out there, I particularly enjoyed Vibrant’s occasion use of low-pass filters.
Just a Taste
While requiring a lot of focus, Vibrant is never longer than 30 minutes. A small clock in the top right-hand corner is continuously counting down from 30 minutes. This gives the player only 30 minutes to complete 31 levels and get one of the four possible endings. Once the timer is depleted, the game is over. The abrupt ending at least has an explanation, as sci-fi story elements are littered throughout the game in text form to keep the player feeling as if there’s a purpose to this arena shooter madness. No negative repercussions are a result of being destroyed. Simply one second is lost, and the player is thrown back into the fray.
Screenshots don’t do Vibrant any justice. Played on a dark field, Vibrant’s use of bright and colorful game objects help add a theme to the overall experience. It shares a lot of similarities with a puzzle title I reviewed last year around this time, Illumine. Vibrant is a short game that can be enjoyed repetitively. It has the ability to sink its teeth into you and keep you coming back for more.
Vibrant is available via Steam.
Watch the official trailer for Vibrant below: