Vaporum: Lockdown by Fatbot Games
Vaporum: Lockdown is the follow-up – though technically a prequel – to the already successful grid-based steampunk dungeon crawler Vaporum.
While Vaporum: Lockdown doesn’t bring anything expressly new to the table, it certainly delivers more of everything that made the first game so much fun.
Out of Space and Underwater
In the game, the action takes place in a massive steampunk tower/laboratory where scientific experiments have gone awry (because of course they have).
Vaporum: Lockdown delivers its lore via notes, diary entries and phonograph recordings scattered through the tower.
The game’s story of a utopian but totalitarian society abandoning scientific ethics in the pursuit of progress at all costs is reminiscent of the BioShock series, while the research itself – utilizing a mysterious substance from an asteroid that crashed into the ocean that has miraculous scientific properties while also drastically mutating things in horrific ways – recalls Lovecraft’s The Colour Out of Space.
It’s an intriguing concept, especially for fans of the first game, though it’s mostly incidental to the action.
Not Just Steam, but Also Acid and Spikes
What the story-line does accomplish, though, is to set up the premise of a hazardous research facility, locked down to prevent its rogue automatons and horrible scientific mutations from wreaking havoc on the rest of the world.
And you, of course, are stuck in the thick of it, meaning that you’ll need to not only survive but escape. What that boils down to is lots of puzzles in a grid-based dungeon.
None of them are mind-blowing or ground-breaking, and I personally didn’t love some of the more timing-oriented parts involving spikes and gouts of flame, but they’re all solid, and some do involve a little head-scratching, though none to the point of complete frustration.
These Monsters Are Giving Me the Vapors
The combat, on the other hand, is consistently excellent, with a variety of weapons, from swords and clubs to muskets and even energy rifles, plus gadgets to deliver quasi-magical area effects.
Spamming the attack button works well only initially. Vaporum: Lockdown quickly forces you to fight thoughtfully, using the grid-based level design to draw enemies out and taking advantage of the real-time-with-pause option to plan ahead.
The more strategic the battles, the lengthier, but my favorite moments involved things like trapping an indestructible mutant cockroach in a room where it could no longer reach me and leading an acid zombie across an entire level, lying in wait to bash it as it lumbered around corners, then dodging back out of range before it could coat me in caustic vomit.
Steampunk in Style
The monster designs are a highlight in a game that already has excellent, highly polished graphics, and I particularly enjoyed the encyclopedia, accessible from the opening screen, that displays all the enemies you’ve already encountered in their full animated glory.
This was a nice touch; when you’re surrounded by mutant rats or rogue mechanical spiders, it’s a lot harder to really slow down and appreciate their animation.
The levels themselves are effectively designed, too, a nice blend of stereotypical steampunk whimsy and twisted survival horror.
An absolute must if you’ve played the original, Vaporum: Lockdown is also sure to please any fans of old-school RPGs, and its steampunk style keeps things intriguing enough for even the most jaded dungeon-crawler.
Vaporum: Lockdown is available via Steam.
Check out the official trailer for Vaporum: Lockdown below: