Sure, we’ve all seen our fair share of pixel art games, but wireframe vectors aren’t as much of a common sight. Of course, the selling point of Paradox Vector isn’t merely its art style. This first-person shooter is currently in development by a one-man dev team called Schmidt Workshops, and is said to be inspired by all-time classics like Quake and Half Life (much like the vast majority of indie shooters these days, ho hum!). With what’s on offer, things are somewhat promising and fairly amusing, though there’s plenty of room for further polish.
Upon starting the game, you’ll wake up in a small room, with little memory of where you are or what happened prior. You’ll uncover a few more details once you leave the first dungeon, not to mention shreds of lore via stone tablets, though, as per tradition with shooters that draw inspiration from the classics, not paying attention to the plot won’t damper the experience in the slightest. The story really isn’t all that compelling or interesting, despite its attempt at world-building and shedding some light after being greeted by the predictable amnesia trope.
The goal here is to grab special items called Paradox Triangles, which are scattered across multiple dungeons. Once that’s completed, an ear-piercing alarm will ring out (you can’t quieten it with the sound settings, oddly), and you must make your way to the exit zone to escape. You can access each dungeon via a hub world (divided into three parts), which do look quite lovely in its simplicity. The minimalist visuals are predominantly made up of coloured lines with black fillings – walls, enemies, weapons, you name it. Atmospheric music will play throughout the game, and while it’s nothing that’ll get you whistling along to, it does give the world a fairly unnerving and mysterious feel to it.
Each of these levels are made up of large corridors, with plenty of steep drops, spike pits and excessively spacious rooms. Destroyable walls, gates and ventilation shafts are all to be expected here, with a few secret areas that are ready to be plundered by the lucky ones. It does pull off some pretty clever tricks to mess with you, such as seemingly-endless staircases that loop indefinitely, and walls that suddenly appear behind you after walking through them.
Navigation is a bit confusing if you didn’t happen to stumble across the map. Without it, you’ll have no way of knowing where you are as the map screen will remain completely blank. At least you’ll be able to revisit these areas at your own leisure, and that can be a good idea once you acquire new equipment or coloured key cards, as you’ll be able to fiddle with switches or access new areas that you couldn’t get to before. Point in case, these environments are generally quite well-designed.
More often than not, it’ll take roughly 5 to 10 minutes to blitz through these zones, in part due to the incredibly fast speed boost you get while sprinting. Don’t get me wrong, this is undoubtedly a good thing since there’s not a lot of reasons to pace it out. Plus, it’s exceptionally useful for escaping the baddies. Anyway, another reason is fairly low enemy count. Monsters and robots will occasionally crop up, and will either blast you from afar, drain your health or explode when up-close. Some turrets can be found on the walls as well, though most of these will go down without too much fuss. The sporadic placement of large health pick-ups does prevent it from being too much of a cakewalk, at least.
You’ll be able to fend off foes with its fairly ho-hum selection of weapons, those being a somewhat-effective pistol and a machine gun (it outclasses the first weapon in every way), not to mention a laser gun, rocket launcher and time bombs. Explosives are exceptionally useful for blowing up fragile walls, and don’t seem to do all that much damage to you, thankfully. Otherwise, it’s a fairly unremarkable arsenal that still gets the job done with minimal fuss. Revising an area will cause all weapons and items to respawn, which is both useful and a tad frustrating when you’re knee-deep in a mission with no ammo to help defend yourself whatsoever.
Paradox Vector is a decent shooter with some swanky visuals and plenty of room for improvement. There’s always room for improvement for a title like this. The top three suggestions begin with the addition of a simple melee attack would be a handy last-resort when ammo’s gone. Iron-sights contribute nothing of value, so maybe the right mouse button could be replaced with a dash, slide or alternate fire mode. Finally, any previously-explored areas in each level should be shown on the map, thus making it far less confusing and frustrating at times. For what it’s worth, it’s not too shabby, and might provide a few hours of entertainment in its Early Access form.
Review code supplied by developer. You can check out the Early Access title on Steam.