A, for the most part, polished and ambitious indie shooter that struggles due to over reaching and as a result under performing the basics.

Booting up ETHER VAPOUR REMASTER without any prior knowledge of the game, I made the foolish mistake of assuming it was a 2.5D shooter. I mean, surely that’s an obvious assumption to make when the game you’re playing starts with a 3D ship flying from bottom to top on a 2D plane? Quickly this game shows you that its unique selling point, and at times downfall, is that midway through levels the game will drastically switch perspectives.

The game frequently transitions from 2.5D scrolling shooter segments to three quarter view sections, behind the ship sections (reminiscent of Starfox 64), sideways scrolling sections and sections where the camera will pick a close-up perspective and task you with stopping a barrage of incoming missiles with your mouse. Each of these sections feels polished and designed with purpose when you’re playing it, but they at times change up too frequently, disorienting and breaking up your ability to be “in the zone”. It’s not a common occurrence, but they occasionally seem to be switching to remind you of the mechanic, rather than because their design actually warranted it.

Your ship in game has three types of projectiles, each of which has an alternate form if charged, but you won’t be finding any power-ups or additional weapons throughout the game like in most shooters of this nature. Your ship has a gattling gun, a spread shot and a lock on missile, each of which serves a different and specific purpose. The gattling gun can be charged for a powerful laser attack, the spread can be charged for a defensive bubble but the lock on missile, perhaps the most important of these projectiles, is mostly the same when charged (it seemed marginally stronger and faster but that may have been me being optimistic).

The reason that the lock on missile is particularly important is that sometimes enemy ships will appear on a different level of the world to you, in the foreground or background. If they do this, you can only hit them with your lock on attack. This works well as an idea, but the execution isn’t as successful. The game, for all its flashy perspective design, fails in making it easy to tell which layer each ship is on. The enemy ships often appear to be in the background when they are on the same layer as you, or appear to be on your layer when they are not, which causes wasted time trying to hit them with the wrong attack type. You will also find that often the enemy ships or projectiles you’re facing will blend into the background a little too much, causing more “cheap deaths” than you ideally want in this type of game.

All in all ETHER VAPOR REMASTER is an interesting game that does enough to separate itself from the pack to be an enjoyable title, but comes with it’s own share of issues. Be prepared for some cheap deaths, unclear ship and projectile locations and over use of perspective switching, but if you can get past that, this is one of the most interesting shooters to come out of the indie scene in recent memory.

ETHER VAPOR REMASTER is now availalble from Steam for £5.49.

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