Electron Dance
18Apr/194

Dabbling With… Vectronom

The final episode of a short series on games I discovered at EGX Rezzed 2019.

When I saw Ludopium's Vectronom on show, tucked away in the Indie Basement room at Rezzed, I thought I gotta get me some of that action. After getting me some of that action, I then shook Utz Stauder, one of the developers, rather vigorously demanding to know when it would be released.

That's enough hype. Chill out, Joel. This isn't No Man's Sky.

Vectronom is a rhythm-based isometric platformer where the obstacles in each level move with the beat. During the levels I played, I had to avoid pyramidal spikes and the floor disappearing beneath me. One wrong move and your cube avatar gets smushed or fall to its death. Vectronom is not like Super Hexagon where you are constantly on the move, but if we insist on Terry Cavanagh metaphors then it's more like VVVVVV. It's about observation, practice and muscle memory. You have to learn the specific sequence of moves to make it through each level and enact it to the beat.

Yep, it was one of them quick-to-pick-up, hard-to-put-downers. Vectronom reminded me of Crypt of the Necrodancer (Brace Yourself Games, 2015) in the way you embraced the music through play. It is frustrating in a good way as it makes the victorious highs that much sweeter when you break through a very tricky level. My favourite stage had a thin circle constantly contracting to a line and expanding back to circle; that required some seriously fancy fingerwork on the keyboard. God, it was joyous.

There is a two-player mode but the two players work independently - my good Side by Side buddy Gregg Burnell likes to call this "co-hab" multiplayer rather than "co-op". Only one needs to get to the exit to complete the level but when both players are performing the exact same actions the visual feedback is disturbed - it's usually better if players agree not to move together. Then again, if you play competitively, this might be a useful tactic to throw your opponent off.

When I brought my son and his friend to Rezzed on the Saturday, I made sure I put them both in front of Vectronom. And they loved it like I knew they would. Look, Vectronom is brilliant, okay.

Vectronom will be out "Spring 2019" on PC, Mac and Nintendo Switch with further plans afoot to bring it to mobile. From the Vectronom website:

Vectronom is a rhythm-based 3D platformer played in isometric view. Obstacles in the levels change in sync with the music, forcing players to memorize patterns and solve environment-specific riddles while moving to the beat of the music.

Interested in other games I've dabbled with? Check out the series index!

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Comments (4) Trackbacks (0)
  1. N E C R O D A N C E R

  2. you will have to explain this comment

    under threat of death

  3. So I’ve watched that trailer a few times now. It doesn’t feel like I’m watching a trailer. It feels like I’m playing Crypt of the Necrodancer!

    Listen, I obviously have zero knowledge about the developers’ intent or inspiration. But my feeling playing Necrodancer was always, ‘this is a new genre of game’ and I don’t understand why more people weren’t saying the same thing (or saying much about it in general except that they liked it but it was too hard).

    It’s kind of a big deal to say it’s a new genre of game when it’s clearly the marriage of two established genres of games and we don’t just declare those new genres willy nilly. But play Necrodancer and tell me it isn’t a new genre! The unification of soundtrack and gameplay in something more complicated than following abstracted prompts (DDR, Vib Ribbon and 99% of the ‘rhythm action’ genre to this point) has a transformative effect on how it feels to play. Fundamentally for me that’s where we stop talking about past lineage and say ok, we’re in new genre territory.

    We can get into Audiosurfs and Super Hexagons and any number of other games but I think the rallying point here is Crypt of the Necrodancer. Necrolikes is obviously horrible, so I submit that the new genre should be called Cryptics.

  4. Hi CA,

    Ah, how could I have forgotten how excitable you were when Crypt of the Necrodancer was last mentioned? :)

    I’ll be honest I’ve never been keen on rhythm games. I remember picking up Retro/Grade and found the concept of chasing coloured beats kind of boring. I suppose Guitar Hero was the game that made the biggest splash with its guitar controller trying to convey the sensation of playing all the music.

    I have an alternate perspective on what makes Necrodancer different. Other games are about musical prompts whereas in Necrodancer the music carries on regardless – but you ignore the beat at your peril. It’s like the Force – it’s always there, but you need the courage and focus to make use of it. STAR WARS METAPHORS

    Vectronom is definitely shares that – the music carries on regardless, but you ignore the beat at your peril.

    I was reminded of my beloved Quadrant, which I streamed a while back. It’s still a prompting game, but to follow the prompting is deliberately confusing which means you dedicate 125% focus. It’s quite brutal but Christ it makes you feel one with the music.


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