Vessel is a game about liquids. Your character, a Mr. M Arkwright, is revered as his world’s equivalent of Einstein for having invented the process to make Fluros, which are sentient beings made of liquid who function similar to robots. These Fluros, and the liquids used to create them, form the basis of this delightfully brain-twisting puzzle-platformer by indie developers Strange Loop Games. Vessel seems like such an unassuming game at first glance, and to dismiss it as just another puzzle-platformer would be to pass up one of the best puzzle games since LittleBigPlanet or Portal. Yeah, it’s that good.
I cannot say enough good things about Vessel. It’s one of those games that initially lulls you into a false sense of security, getting you thinking that the puzzles are almost becoming easy, which is right before the game quickly shoves new forms of brain teasers in your way. Different types of liquids and Fluros become available throughout the game, and within the various ways to combine each liquid with each Fluro, Vessel’s strength truly shines. There are far too few puzzle games which give the player the means to solve a puzzle their way, as opposed to the one solution the designers had left for you. Vessel pulls off this flexibility incredibly well, ensuring that every puzzle has multiple solutions, and that those solutions are limited only by your own inventiveness.
The music of Vessel is, in a word, perfect. Strange Loop could not have made a better choice than to use music by British electronic producer Jon Hopkins, known for his work with Coldplay and Imogen Heap, as the soundtrack to Vessel. Your character will walk into a puzzle room to the sound of restrained down tempo electronic beats, but with each part of the puzzle you solve, the music grows and evolves. This made solving puzzles even more rewarding, since the music will dynamically hit its crescendo when the final piece of the puzzle falls into place. I simply can’t stress enough how good this musical accompaniment to success feels. Strange Loop offers a YouTube playlist of the game’s soundtrack, and if you’re at all on the fence about buying Vessel, I suggest using the soundtrack as your barometer.
The only reason I can see for Vessel not costing more than $15 is the game’s length. While I definitely felt satisfied at the end of the game, I couldn’t help but wish for more levels or a challenge mode. It’s a rare thing indeed for me to gush about a game, but Vessel is an absolute gem that I cannot praise enough.
+ Unique premise
+ Moderately difficult puzzles
+ Amazing dynamic soundtrack
+ Fantastic art and design
- Short (7-10 hours)
- Little to no replayability
Why are you still reading this? Vessel is amazing. BUY IT!
Vessel was released on March 1st, 2012 for PC.