How Metroidvania is it? Medium Fit. Vision Soft Reset has all the trappings of a good Metroidvania, but it has a twist to the formula that, while absolutely amazing, makes it very different from your standard Metroid or Castlevania.
Primary Challenge: Ranged Combat, Spatial-Reasoning Puzzles
Time to beat: ~7 hours
Review Info: The Steam review code for this game was provide by the Developer
Buy Vision Soft Reset if you like…
- Unique and innovative game mechanics
- Frantic Ranged Combat
- Cerebral Action Puzzle Platforming
- Time Reversal - Such as with Braid or Prince of Persia
▼ Review continues below ▼
A lot of games include Time Travel as a feature, but at least as far as I’ve played at the time of writing this review it’s mostly been a gimmick. You can often stop time, shift between two time periods, and maybe occasionally change the future by changing the past, but generally speaking it’s used as an excuse to show off more locales. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing, but Vision Soft Reset is the first game since Majora’s Mask that I’ve played where the concept of time travel truly goes beyond being just a story flair and becomes a central feature of basically everything in the game. Vision Soft Reset doesn’t waste any time making it a feature either. There is no hour of piddling about discovering your new powers – Oracle can Reverse Time, See the Future, and even Flashback to previous timeframes right from the outset.
We have seen the time reversal mechanic in games like Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time and Braid, and the “Seeing the Future” is mechanically just a really clever way to telegraph enemy attacks. What truly sets Vision Soft Reset apart from other games is its flashback feature. Thematically, Oracle is technically viewing possible future outcomes from a specific point in time, but for the player it feels like you’re jumping back and forth through time between sections of the clock. All times converge at the beginning point, and from there every checkpoint you find creates a timeline you can warp to. This functions as your fast travel in terms of skipping through space, but the twist is that the time you used the checkpoint is also locked down. Warp back to the beginning and change a few of the game’s global events, and save at that same checkpoint and you now have two fast travel points in two completely different timelines where you’ve accomplished different things. Effectively, Vision Soft Reset has taken the Metroidvania Formula of exploring 2D space and unlocking new areas with your abilities, and has gone beyond simply asking you to think about where to use your new abilities, but also when to use them. Once you get the main movement upgrades you can travel from one opposite end of the game’s map to the other in less than 3 minutes, but there are gates that lock themselves after a number of minutes have passed, a power supply that can be on or off, and a few events that only happen at specific minute marks that you have to consider. This creates a fascinating puzzle box that will really get your brain working on how things work – and will likely stump many people as they try to find the solution to a given problem. I can think of only one case where I feel like the game didn’t tutorialize a possible solution very well, other than that every place that I personally had trouble figuring things out seemed like it was completely fair and I was the one just not getting it.
I have to heap a few more praises on the game’s level design. Because fast travel comes with a slight monkey’s paw with the time limit, you are going to be spending a lot of time manually traveling to places and creating new timelines. If the game was padded with long boring hallways, this review would be a heck of a lot more negative. Meticulous care has been put into making sure that the player’s time is respected. Each new ability unlocks a host of shortcuts, making it easier to solve the game’s bigger problems, and of course giving that enormous sense of freedom that every good Metroidvania should convey. The exploration is very well rewarded too. Even the optional bestiary cards increase your damage against that particular creature, making them a welcome find. For those that like the kind of insane challenges that Metroid Zero Mission had for getting some of its missile upgrades, there are also a few of these hidden in seemingly impossible to access places.
The combat is also very tight, and since you can always reverse a small mistake if you have enough energy, it gets away with being more fast and frantic than your typical ranged combat game. There aren’t a ton of bosses in the game, but the ones that are there are extraordinarily memorable, and each has its own surprises. I was a little worried watching the trailers that the character would be too small, thus making the combat feel wonky, but at least for my experience it’s actually executed very well.
If I were to pinpoint my biggest complaint about Vision Soft Reset is that it feels like there should be more of it; it sort of ends on a cliffhanger which is a bittersweet thing. I would have liked it to be a complete stand-alone package, but on the other hand I am anxiously anticipating the possibility of a sequel.
I should also mention that Vision Soft Reset is not an easy game. I probably wouldn’t put it up there with La-Mulana, Environmental Station Alpha, or the harder parts of Hollow Knight in terms of difficulty, but some of the game’s puzzle platforming challenges may be extraordinarily difficult to figure out and execute for players that aren’t familiar with action platformers in general.
With that said, Vision Soft Reset is most certainly a smashing success in innovative game design and should not be missed under any circumstance. I fear that its smaller indie status and maybe more niche concepts will cause it to fall by the wayside, but in my opinion it will always at least be a hidden gem if that happens. I urge you to at least download it and try it within the return timeframe to see if it’s something you’d like. There are too many things in the game that just need to be experienced. I for one was hooked within the first 40 minutes, and it will always be at the forefront of my mind when someone asks for a GREAT game, but also for something that’s a little different.
There aren't a ton of bosses, but the ones that are there are absolutely fantastic.
You get a ton of abilities off of your upgrades that present some mind blowing platforming challenges
Even the optional collectables help your gameplay. Tons of hidden areas to discover
The entire game is a puzzle box of not only knowing where to go, but also when to be there
Very compelling plot that only needed a few more scenes to be something really special
The graphics are a little small, maybe the backgrounds could use an upgrade, but the pixel art is otherwise fantastic
Catchy SNES/Sega Master System era style music
Because of how non-guided the game is and the numerous options available to you there's no reason to play this game the same way twice
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All Time: Positive
(96% of 30 Reviews)