Vectronom has the sleek lines of an arty minimalist, the thumping tunes of the coolest kid in town, and the beating heart of a sociopath. It’s the vicious offspring of mobile classic Edge and a rhythm action game, where success or failure depends on your ability to perform on-screen choreography while platforms abruptly appear and vanish from under your feet.
The resulting mash-up is simultaneously maddening and grin-inducing. You die often, because your digits aren’t as dexterous as you’d supposed. And although the game’s basics echo any number of other timing-oriented mobile titles that charge you from getting from A to B, Vectronom is a perfect example of how polish, presentation, and a premium approach prove transformative on mobile.
The beat goes on
Initial level ‘Vogon Ship’ at least eases you in gently. You begin swiping to move along a solid bridge. If you can’t manage that, probably give up. Next, the pathway shifts on the beat, but there’s still a clear, solid route to your goal. Then you tackle a hovering platform, also moving like clockwork. Easy. Only the game will then helpfully note your ‘beat precision’ rating was woeful.
Follow-up set ‘Monolith’ is also relatively easily beaten, despite introducing you to the concept of having to leap into empty space – on the basis you know a solid platform will appear where you’re heading on the next beat. But after that point, Vectronom decides it’s far more fun to tear your face off.
The tunes ramp up in intensity, mirroring the game’s demanding nature. Routines you’re tasked with performing become increasingly elaborate. Patterns in the flooring must be scrutinised before you head off, and then use your digit to partake in clockwork choreography that inevitably frequently ends with your little block falling into the abyss.
Despite the sparse nature of the Vectronom aesthetic, the game is never short of ideas. One level set forces you to rely solely on the beat, through mostly hiding your block out of sight. Another recalls Tetris, a thumping remix if that classic’s title tune playing as you grapple with tetromino bridges that don’t have the good grace to stay still.
The entire thing comes across like an interactive concept album; but whereas, say, Sayonara Wild Hearts keeps you blazing through the music whatever you do, Vetronom has a deranged old-school take-no-prisoners approach. This can be frustrating in the odd level where the pathway to (and timing for) success could be clearer. For the most part, though, this is a grin-inducing, eye-searing, ear-pleasing slice of bite-sized arcade bliss.