Doomsday Vault is a story about attempting to restore a damaged ecosystem by farming plants found while solving puzzles throughout the world.
Doomsday Vault is a simple indie puzzle game for the Nintendo Switch developed and published by Flightless. Players will be challenged with a series of terrain puzzles scaling in difficulty as they scavenge a world devastated by pollution, aiming to collect and grow a wide variety of plants found at the end of each map. Doomsday Vault is a great choice for those looking to solve challenging puzzles with intuitive gameplay; However, there are areas that would benefit from being fleshed out and increasing replayability.
The story of Doomsday Vault is told without words or an overarching narrator. Instead, players can draw their own conclusion about what occurred to the world by donning their robotic suit and venturing out into landscapes filled with broken buildings and wreckage. Doomsday Vault almost feels like a survival game, with the implication that the earth likely collapsed due to forces like pollution and overpopulation. Puzzle terrain in Doomsday Vault is primarily made up of destroyed buildings, abandoned junkyards, and ancient ruins that require inventive thinking to navigate.
Navigating terrain is simple in Doomsday Vault. Players can steer the character with the joysticks or the direction pad of their Nintendo Switch Joy-Cons, with a dotted field appearing on the screen to display navigable terrain. Ladders can be climbed by approaching them, without the need to press additional buttons. This makes movement simple and intuitive. Players can also interact with the environment by picking up crates and moving them to stretches of water that need to be crossed, or using them in puzzles. Occasionally, the ability to change the environment by pressing buttons that drain water from a space or open doors to new areas also arrives to switch things up.
The primary goal of Doomsday Vault is to scour the map for Nutrients while attempting to locate a different seed in each map. Nutrients are hidden around the map, and often require the player to detour from the main path or solve particularly difficult terrain puzzles to collect. They are found in small, green ringed tubes, and vary in size. In order to grow the most of a single seed type, players will need to collect 100 percent of the nutrients hidden throughout the seed’s map. However, each map can be attempted multiple times if not all the Nutrients are found in the first playthrough.
After solving the puzzles, players are brought back to their Vault. This is a large greenhouse where the seeds in Doomsday Vault can be planted and safely housed. The number of Nutrients successfully located are then used to determine how many of each seed can be grown. By achieving a certain number of different plant types, players are able to unlock upgrades and cosmetic changes for their robotic suit. These include fun designs for the suit’s body and helpful attachments. These cosmetic changes are a fun way to customize a suit for a unique, personal aesthetic.
However, it is actually the farming aspect that causes Doomsday Vault to fall short both in overall gameplay and replay value. While the initial playthrough of each map is engaging, once all the Nutrients are found and seeds are obtained, there is little incentive to revisit the map. To add to this, once the seed is in the Vault and has all the Nutrients needed to unlock potential upgrades, players are no longer able to interact with the seeds or continue to maintain them. To improve this feature, Flightless could consider releasing an update introducing a new level for each map including golden Nutrients. It might also be interesting to see an expansion where players can harvest produce from their plants, and then trade them for even better upgrades at a spaceport shop. Either of these options would create the incentive to replay maps, and better utilize the currently lacking farming mechanics.
While there is room for growth in Doomsday Vault, currently it offers a variety of good challenges with engaging gameplay. The puzzles are great for players of any age, and those who enjoy relaxing, exploration experiences like Abzu or Monument Valley will likely find the atmosphere of Doomsday Vault a great way to escape at the end of the day. With a few updates to improve replayability, Doomsday Vault could become a great choice for those who enjoy puzzle-style gameplay, and remains solid for those interested in the genre as it currently stands.
Doomsday Vault is available now on the PC, Apple Devices, and Nintendo Switch. A Nintendo Switch code was provided to Screen Rant for the purposes of this review.
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