Everyone knows what retro resurgence is right? Games like Minecraft and Terraria becoming popular even though they look like something from the 90s. Well, it’s a lot more than that. With retro resurgence it’s not just about the voxel look, it’s about people wanting simple games in an age of modern warfare shooters and always online requirements. A call back to what is old and what is often called the “golden age of gaming.” It’s not just a few random people either, the movement’s big. Minecraft is one of the most popular games on the planet. A few backwards nerds doesn’t cause that, that’s the doing of a whole culture of gamers. That’s what retro resurgence is all about for games, or how I understand it at least.
The tale of Vox
Oh yes, what was I doing? Reviewing Vox? Well that’s just it, when I looked at Vox I started to get all these ideas about how Minecraft’s gotten so big and the message these games send. Maybe Vox is something special, or simply a Minecraft copycat. Then I got to play the game. I’m dumped in a world of endless grassland and desert and just like that pixalated game that I’m not going to mention again because it’ll get tiresome, you have pretty much nothing to help you. Sounds ominous huh?
So, I turn around and find some NPCs, and a village. I assume this is all part of the randomly generated world, so I meander into the village past the NPCs and get treated to a laboriously long cut scene showing me that it is in fact, a village. There’s nobody around, which is a bit odd, but there are anvils and forges as well as beds. Beds set your spawn point and anvils can be used to forge items from bars, while forges can be used to smelt ores into bars. Don’t say it.
Seeing as I didn’t have anything to do I wandered out of the village back to the NPCs. They appear to have exclamation marks on their heads, so I go and check them out. These three NPCs are quest givers, the one I talk to is a wizard called Miranda. She tasks me with going and killing ten slimes in exchange for some money as well as a king slime. Ok, so no points for quest design then. Heading into the randomly generated world I spot a small green blob, it’s a slime, time for some combat. It’s pretty simple to do, just hit the left mouse key to attack. After a moment I’m killed and respawn - it appears that slimes are too good for me. So I decide to open my inventory to check out the inventory system and low and behold there’s a longsword, a bow, several bombs, a bunch of arrows, a pickaxe and some armour. It appears you don’t start out completely helpless then.
Revealing the truth
After figuring out the awkward inventory system and dropping my sword a few times because it’s so cluttered, I managed to kill the ten slimes. Yay. The king slime however remained elusive, so I gave up. There’s no clue as to where the objective is, the minimap in the top right of the screen is blacked out for the most part and there’s no quest arrow either. Loot is scattered around the place in convenient chests ready to be plundered, but you'd better watch out for mimics, the most powerful thing I came across while playing. Annoyed at my lack of success I try the other two quests, they both happen to be similarly dull. Collecting ores and killing bees. Yeah, I’m off.
So if Vox wasn’t going to win my heart with it’s quests then I hoped that it would win it through its sandbox. However the world of Vox only takes about two minutes to run across when set to medium, which is disappointingly small compared to the likes of indie gem Cubeworld. So that got me thinking. If Vox isn’t a sandbox RPG and it isn’t a sandbox survival game. What is it? Vox has more RPG elements to it than a simple quest system, in the start screen you have a character creation menu which lets you mix and match between several different looks for your character.
I then decided to start fresh and create a new world. Upon arrival I discovered that it actually looked very similar. The village was still there and so were the NPCs as well as the dancing blobs. I can’t prove that the two supposedly randomly generated worlds are the same, they look strangely similar though. Mining didn’t get me anywhere either, after a few minutes of flailing around attempting to cope with the camera I managed to mine through the world, only to be caught by an invisible wall. Ok, so Vox isn’t my favourite game but it shouldn’t be dismissed. The version I played was the 0.37 Alpha. There’s a lot more to go before Always Geeky ends development. The trouble with asking people to buy this is that there really isn’t much you’re getting for your money except hopes and dreams, a bit like the current alpha of Starforge.
Vox has a long way to go yet but if you want to take a chance on a game yet to finish then we’re prepared to give away two copies, courtesy of our friends at Indie Game Stand.
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