Cults and those who specialise with the end of the world are great sources of material for the gaming world – strange rituals, and folk who will do anything to get their message across in order to fulfil the ultimate prophecy.
It’s a rich mix and in Cions of Vega, the solo game developer of Tonguç Bodur has dipped their toe into the world of cults, coming up with a story and experience that might get you to join up.
The story here is told to you through conversations with your brother Logan – it goes something like this. You play a 40-something father whose daughter Leila has run away from home. You and Logan set off across the American South in search of her and as you go through the world you find houses in which the adult folk have disappeared, leaving the children to fend for themselves. Searching around for clues as you go, you find out about a cult group that has been taking over the area. Are they to blame for the disappearances?
The story and writing in Cions of Vega are good and kept me immersed for the couple of hours of gameplay that are on offer. It tells a good story, mainly through the brother Logan’s conversations with you, as drip-fed information unfolds about your family and the accounts of what has happened around the town. In the houses themselves you find clues to what may have happened, as well as snippets from the kids that you can chat to. It has a nice twist at the end as well, one which works well and is satisfying. Don’t get me wrong, it’s no The Last of Us, but it does a good job.
Gameplay wise and Cions of Vega comes with a mixture of walking sim vibes, some puzzle elements, and the ideas normally found in point-and-click adventures. Each area you go into has a gate at the end of it that you need to get through, but it’s locked. So by exploring the houses in that area and solving some puzzles you find the key to that gate.
It’s all played in the first person and it’s not going to tax your brain, but you might be doing some backtracking and exploring. Sometimes Logan will help you out with a clue or an item you might need.
The puzzle elements range from a safe-cracking exercise to the usual searching for items like fuses that could be buried in the back garden. It’s nothing that will require the use of amazing gaming skills, but it does a fair job. You can’t be killed or attacked by anything either, and that means there isn’t any combat required. It’s probably for that reason that I think some gamers – mostly those not used to this type of game – may struggle with what Cions of Vega delivers, especially in terms of its pace and gameplay mechanics. For me, it was a congenial little story and journey.
Visually the game helps with the story and atmosphere. The outdoor locations are very impressive for a title from such a small development team. Lush forests and lakes surround the area, and walking through them is a delight. I don’t think the interiors fare so well and after a while it all just blends together, with the same architecture and fittings. The character models are fine and there is some nice lighting, but it’s the soundtrack that I’ve been taken with; it is lovely to listen to with its emotive score and voice-over work. Logan does a very good job with a southern drawl that becomes quite relaxing to listen to.
If you’re a fan of previous Tonguç Bodur games – the likes of The Redress of Mira and Finding the Soul Orb – then Cions of Vega should be on your list. It’s one of his best, with a nicely compact story, some lovely visuals, and a great atmosphere. It doesn’t do anything groundbreaking and it’s possible that some players will get frustrated with its length and lack of challenge, but for me, Cions of Vega is a good game and a great way to spend a couple of hours.
Cions of Vega is on the Xbox Store