During the Fall of 2013, French Independent Developer Cosmografik teamed up with ARTE to release a unique typographic iOS, Android and PC adventure game titled Type: Rider. This intriguing puzzle platformer allowed players to discover the history of fonts and characters and eventually launched on the PlayStation 4 and PlayStation Vita years later in 2016.
With today’s debut of Vandals across iOS, Android, PC, and Mac platforms, Cosmografik has crafted a captivating turn-based puzzle adventure game that pays homage to a celebrated art form and is an excellent educational tool for those interested in the history behind graffiti. Here are more of my thoughts on what to expect from this clever and stylish title.
Vandals is a turn-based stealth graffiti game in which players take on the role of a mysterious street artist with aspirations of creating masterpieces across five different parts of the world. Armed with a spray can and quick reflexes, you’ll be tasked with sneaking through alleyways and painting artwork while evading the watchful eyes of police officers, cameras, and dogs. The locations highlighted in the game are deeply rooted in street art culture and include Paris, New York, Berlin, Tokyo and São Paulo during different periods of time.
Vandals art style is very simplistic in nature and tone. The fluid movements of characters from one spot to another juxtaposed with the stylish backdrop of bright icons and various street settings at night truly breathes life into the overall experience. The visuals are also relaxing to the eye and this is complementary to how the player will feel while progressing through each and every level.
Gameplay aesthetics are very straightforward from start to finish. The main objective set within each level is to successfully spray paint a clearly designated area and escape before being spotted by police officers, cameras or dogs. There are also several collectibles scattered throughout all 60 levels that when acquired reveal background information on famous street artists and how their artwork influenced an era. These items are typically easy to get if you’re paying close attention to your surroundings. Bonus stars can also be picked up at various levels and players are rated up to three stars based on the number of turns that it takes for them to complete each puzzle.
While navigating towards your goal, you may be able to whistle or throw bottles to distract those who might get in your way. Everything is determined by the icons that appear on the screen, making the game totally accessible to every type of player regardless of age or skillset. Once you do reach the area where you are allowed to paint, you can use the touchscreen on your mobile phone or tablet to draw pictures and add text. The whole process is very immersive and is guaranteed to keep you on your toes at all times.
When I first launched Vandals on my iPhone, I was greeted with an opening theme that instantly reminded me of something I would hear from Stranger Things but with very clear tonal differences. From then onward, exploring each level was made special thanks to the exceptional soundtrack and ambiance of each and every stage. This is a title that really highlights the importance of sound as it drew me into the experience even more.
If there’s one gripe that I personally have with Vandals its that the painting options feel a bit limited at the moment. You have nine colors to choose from, three brush sizes and five stylish text overlays that you can add to your canvas and save afterward. Giving players the ability to include premade shapes, emojis or iconic logos to further personalize their artwork could push the feature even more and make design options unlimited. Perhaps this is something that the devs may consider implementing later on but for now, the current painting tool is highly effective and easy to use.
Vandals is an insanely fun turn-based puzzle game that accurately portrays the beauty of street art and its profound cultural influence over time. The simplistic visuals, pulsating musical score and intuitive gameplay controls make it an ideal pickup for both fans of graffiti culture and stealthy turn-based strategy games. If you have a desire to play a new game on your mobile device that’s both enjoyable and challenging, then Vandals is definitely something worth checking out.
This review was based on a digital review copy of Vandals for iOS provided by ARTE.