Vaccine is a third-person survival horror game that combines classic Resident Evil gameplay with the visuals of classic Alone in the Dark. It sounds great but is nothing but a frustrating & ugly looking game.
Vaccine is unashamed in its inspirations. From the moment an evil voice says ‘vaccine’ after you select new game, to the static camera angles & in-game references. For example, examining certain pianos will see your character suggest that they had heard what sounded like Moonlight Sonata being played on it earlier.
Add zombies, a crawling ‘licker’ type creature, an obvious tyrant in the final room & what you have here is an embarrassing attempt at ripping off the classic survival horror game.
Where Vaccine differs though is with its procedurally generated mansion. Every time you start the game the layout of the mansion will be different. While this does offer variety in the gameplay it’s hardly worth noting as there are only a set amount of rooms & they repeat constantly. A kitchen will lead to a courtyard corridor that will lead to the exact same kitchen and so on.
As well as the random nature of the mansion items & enemies are also random for every attempt. This is when Vaccine is at its most frustrating. What items & enemies you get is so random that often you’ll be left with nothing but a knife having to deal with the ‘not lickers but totally are lickers’ creatures. These things are unbeatable without some form of gun or repellent. The latter gives you a short amount of time where enemies can’t damage you.
It’s invaluable but if you’re unlucky enough to not have any spawn in, you are screwed. To make matters worse on occasion the game will generate a mansion that can’t be completed. Locked doors & no keys, so no way to progress. The only thing you can do is quit out & start again.
It’s very frustrating made all the worse by the static camera angles that seem designed to always hide an enemy out of sight resulting in you taking damage.
At the start, you can choose between Rita O’Conner & Manuel G.P. There isn’t much difference between too beyond minor stats. However, levelling up the 5 skills in the game is very easy & quick. Killing most enemies in your first go through the mansion will see almost all your skills reaching full level. This in turn makes the second go through the mansion even easier as these skills & your items carry over.
To fully complete Vaccine you must play through it 10 times all with increased enemies & less time. Yes, Vaccine has a timer. Seeing as the whole aim is to find a vaccine for your infected friend you must do so in a certain amount of time. First run is 30 minutes, a generous amount & from that point onwards it just continues to drop.
It adds more urgency to later runs especially as you’ll be high powered by that stage. Unfortunately, Vaccine’s horrible visuals will see you run out of time often having missed an important key. You see, items are dropped all over the mansion but some are out of camera shot & don’t have the bright twinkle that others do. It means an important progression key can be completely missed resulting you having to backtrack & then run out of time.
Run out of time & it is game over. Die & it is game over. There is no save option, you get a game over screen & you’ll be starting it all again with no upgrades or items. Fun.
Vaccine doesn’t get much right but does capture that classic Resident Evil/Alone in the Dark style even if it’s more of a rip-off then a homage.
It’s out now on Xbox One via RNC.