Veks And Silence Review (XBLA)

Game Review: Veks and Silence (XBLA)
Release:  August 8, 2009
Genre: Side Scroller / Shooter
Developer: Edible Entertainment
Available Platforms: Xbox 360
Players: 1
MSRP: 400 Microsoft Points

Once in a while there is an Indie game on XBLA that really impresses me.  Rarely do I see one that feels like a standard Arcade release as opposed to an Indie release.  Veks and Silence is a surprisingly high caliber side-scroll game hidden in a vast sea of mediocre Indie games.  This game has great looking 3D graphics, thirteen original episodes, maniacal humor everywhere, a comic-book styled storyline and a fairly good soundtrack to boot.

The story begins with you playing as Silence, a failed video game hero who has been locked away in the Game Asylum because his game, Veks and Silence, was banned.  Suddenly, after Hate Brand Industries (the makers of your banned video game) merges with Zombotrix Robotrix, and the world is over-run with zombies, you are released – oddly with all of your weapons in tow in a black bowling bag donning a white skull on the side.  Silence is a pot bellied, tattoo covered guy with a brown paper bag with eyeholes for a mask.  His “hero threads” consist of a sleeveless t-shirt and Hawaiian flowered boxer shorts making his sandals look very natural.  He is not your standard action hero.

The controls are a bit off standard for a side-scroller.  The left stick moves you left and right but also aims your weapon up and down.  X fires forward and B fires behind you (over the shoulder or via back bend) and is relevant to the direction you are facing.  A jumps and double jumps.  Y throws bombs.  The D-pad is used to select the main weapon, a semi-automatic pistol, a shotgun, a sniper rifle and a chain gun.  The weight of the weapon being used affects the height you can jump – so plan on swapping weapons a lot.

Enemies are varied from standard zombies to laser guided cannons to radioactive sharks that fly around with the aid of butterfly wings.  In true blood-bath fashion, bones and gore go flying and splatter the environment with each kill.  Do not think that the silliness of the enemies makes the game easy,  This is a challenging and addictive game where failure just makes you want to play more.  (Think Trials HD)

Scoring is tracked with money; you are paid for each kill, and the scoreboard is in the form of a continuously updating check at the top of the screen.  Silence has apparently been hired back by Hate Brand Industries to clean up their mess (the zombies and such).

The humor runs deep in Veks and Silence.  Billboards in the environment advertise fake films and products – as well as give you hints to how to defeat bosses.  The speech bubbles that appear above Silence as well as the enemies are a special treat, with zombies imagining you as a sandwich, or Silence threatening death to the undead.  The wit is not recycled so much as to get boring and will catch you off guard on occasion causing out loud laughter,

Even though there are extra lives to be picked up throughout the game to add to the initial four, the health system is unforgiving.  In fact, if you get hit you die.  No health packs, or hiding to recharge your shield – just a quick painless death  – even if you get hit only once.

Aside from the thirteen episodic levels, there are corresponding Survival Modes. These drop you into an environment and you kill until you get killed;  One life and that’s it.  It is a fairly straight forward horde style of play.  A new survival mode is unlocked after completing each of the thirteen sequential story mode episodes.

There are only a couple things missing from Veks and Silence when compared to non-indie releases.  The ability to compare scores and compete with friends would be nice and there is some room for some character voice work also.  It’s not really fair to expect these things in an indie title, but the rest of this game is so good, it makes you forget it’s an Indie title.

In the end – this game comes with my personal recommendation.  I will be enjoying this game for a long time to come, and for only 400 Microsoft points ($5 US) there’s no reason for side scroller fans to pass this by.  Grab the demo here and try it for yourself.

  • Comic book style and story line
  • Zombie bloodbath fun-fest
  • Twisted humor throughout
  • Reasonably priced – even at 400 MSP
  • Difficult play not for the timid

Final Score – 9 out of 10

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