Vaccine seems like a game which should be perfectly tailored to me. It’s a throw-back to the first generation of survival horror games but with a modern indie game touch. However, that’s an awfully big check. Can Vaccine cash that check? Let’s find out.
Vaccine is obviously an homage to the original Resident Evil. In it, the player choses between one of two characters belonging to a paramilitary organization. The player then has to seek out an antidote for the infection of their “friend” (who is the character that the player didn’t pick). The player then explores a creepy mansion to try to find the antidote. However, when the player brings their friend the antidote, they become infected again and the player has to find another antidote in a different mansion and so on.
Graphically speaking, Vaccine definitely keeps up its homage to that first wave of survival horror games. Everything is very blocky and indistinct. The game makes extensive use of pre-rendered backgrounds with slightly more detailed, slightly smoother graphics. There’s even an option in the game’s menu to add a filter which makes it look like you’re playing the game on an old CRT television. This is all very cool and all, but there’s one major problem: None of it looks very good. The original Resident Evil games and their contemporaries may have used similarly primitive graphics, but their models had a lot more character to them; their design wasn’t as messy as all this.
The sound design of Vaccine is one of the game’s weaker points. The music and sound effects are both pretty bland, and for a game without much going for it graphically it really kind of needs that extra push from the audio design to make it really stand out. Unfortunately it doesn’t really get that. So instead we’re left with a game that might as well be played on mute.
The gameplay of Vaccine is also middling. There’s a solid core of old-school survival horror gameplay here. However, there’s a lot that just doesn’t quite work. For starters, it uses the old “tank controls” that games like Resident Evil did. However, the joystick sensitivity is far too high for it to control well at all and the D-pad is not sensitive enough. Then there’s the timer. The player only has 30 minutes to get through each procedurally generated mansion. This would be fine with a slightly better method for generation, but the player will frequently go on extended detours finding nothing of use. Either of these things would work well on their own, but they don’t combine well at all. Also, the game has some noticeable typos.
Vaccine has a lot going for it, it really does. However, it’s got a lot going against it as well. I like it, I really do. But… it’s frankly just not worth the price tag. This is already a cheap game, but it needs to be a bit cheaper to actually make sure the player gets their money’s worth.