The last of a trio of new Vita games we’re checking out today is Vasilis. It was originally released through Steam by Marginal Act and was just ported to the Vita by Sometimes You.
It’s hard not to immediately be struck with Vasilis’ unique art style, as it’s a game that’s completely hand-drawn in black and white – as if drawn on paper with a pencil and then brought to life inside a videogame. It was also inspired by real world events that took place inside Ukraine about five years ago, which acts as a backdrop to the central storyline.
You play as Vasilis, an old women who finds herself trapped among the city’s fires and riots and wishes to reconnect with her husband Peter, previously believed to be missing. There’s an interesting narrative, but navigating through it can be challenging due to a less-than-intuitive map that you can access. Where you can and cannot go also changes from chapter to chapter, so you can’t just rely on memory either.
Most of the game sees Vasilis trek from A to B to talk to a character, who then sends you to another location with a task to fulfill. As interested as I was in the narrative, these assignments essentially boiled down to simple fetch quests that never really grabbed me by the throat as much as you’d expect when you consider the horrific events that serve as a backdrop here.
What also doesn’t help is that the Vita conversion is technically lacking in areas – though some of the issues probably have to do with the source material. Some of the in-game text is off (with little spelling mistakes), and when Vasilis walks across a scene the backdrop doesn’t scroll smoothly but jerks along a bit as you walk – it’s not easy on the eyes despite the lovely hand-drawn style. One cool thing about the animation though…. walk Vasilis into an obstacle and she’ll keep walking in place, which looks a lot like she’s doing a moonwalk.
It’s a shame that Vasilis feels like it lacks a bit of polish. Its heavy-handed narrative makes a game like this hard to be “fun”, but the technical and gameplay issues also make it difficult to experience the story in an impactful way.