Vane: An echo of Team Ico in this new game

Vane is the small puzzle-game by the company Friend and Foe who were all once members of The Last Guardian team. How can we not get excited?

The Last Guardian has been dangled above our heads like a golden carrot for so long that it has literally become the Holy Grail of gaming. But during it's long arduous journey, jumping from platform to platform, rolling around development hell (and so many praying that we are not being set up for another Duke Nukem travesty), something has crawled out of the woodwork to whet our ICO whistle for a while.

And that something is called Vane.

Created by Friend and Foe gaming, a team that is made up of a few developers from the original Last Guardian team, the game is set in a desolate world where players will trek across deserts to solve puzzles in ancient tombs and ruins. Very familiar territory if you're well acquainted with Team ICO games.

 Desert landscapes with heavy atmosphere. What's not to love?

What's it about?

From early access screenshots it's easy to feel the atmospheric appeal it has to offer, and even easier to see the inspiration from The Last Guardian and other Team ICO games. The short video offers an interesting setting and gameplay.

Raging sandstorms chase the player into ruins, coiled with lightning storms and winds, and the tombs seem to hold dangers themselves from shifting sands to sheer drops. But the most intriguing part comes right at the end of the short video, where the protagonist jumps from the ruins - and changes into an eagle.

With such an interesting premise it is nothing short of 'I need to have it'. Nothing can be more tranquil and amazing than soaring like an eagle across a desert landscape, solving puzzles and avoiding dangers with this unique ability.

There is something other-worldly about it, and with so few true animal games like Tokyo Jungle and Okami, it is a title that will surely be welcomed by many players.

“Vane is a game that doesn’t want to communicate anything explicitly to the player,” says Mat Smith, developer on the team, “so that means we need to be extra careful in blocking out and testing our environments to guide the player in subtle ways where necessary.”

This is slightly reminiscent of another desert game Journey. Very little is communicated in Journey and players are welcome to explore and do as they wish, taking away from the game what they find and not what the game wants to force them to enjoy. It opens the door for emotional and intellectual interpretation, offering a broader discussion than the average shoot em up does.

When can we buy it?

As intriguing as Vane is there are so many questions left unanswered. Will there be enemies? Can you change into anything else? Are those sandstorms part of the puzzle? And most importantly; when will it be finished?

Though all these questions will be answered when the game is finally released it is hard to say when we will get our paws on it. In one of Friend and Foes updates (April 2015) Matt Smith stated they were in the process of upgrading visuals, cleaning up the core game-play to get the game ready for a pitch and hopefully get it out on the shelves faster. This sounds promising and they've since made another post on the development, but a definite date still eludes us.

If nothing else it is something to look froward to in the painful months we have to wait for The Last Guardian. But from what we can see from this 'small big game' as Matt calls it, it will definitely have us soaring with delight.

Published Jan. 6th 2016
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