Vostok Inc. review for PS Vita, PS4, Xbox One, Switch

Platform: PS Vita
Also On: PS4, PC, Xbox One, Switch
Publisher: Badland Indie
Developer: Nosebleed Interactive
Medium: Digital
Players: 1
Online: No
ESRB: E10+

It?s not often that games are self-aware enough to accurately describe themselves, but I think Vostok Inc. might just do it. Its developers have described it as “a casual game for a hardcore audience and a hardcore game for a casual audience,” and you know what? That kind of works.

On the one hand, it?s partly a so-called “clicker game,” which is to say that it?s the sort of game where you farm resources to earn money to spend on tools that allow you to farm more resources to earn more money to spend more tools to farm even more resources to….well, you get the idea. The goal, obviously, is to get to a point where the whole game just runs itself, and you can sit back and rake in the money (hence the more technical description, idle games). The setting here may be a little different than usual — you?re colonizing planets, rather than merely setting up a farm — but the end goal is still familiar to anyone who?s played games like these before.

On top of that, though, Vostok Inc. is also a twin-stick shooter. In between colonizing planets, you?re flying around the galaxy, shooting at rocks and, as the game progresses, more and more enemies. Consequently, the money you spend isn?t just reinvested in making more money, you also have to upgrade your ship and its weapons and defenses. While I wouldn?t necessarily describe twin-stick shooters as a “hardcore” genre (whatever that may mean), I think, for the purposes of the above description, the combination of that plus clicking means that, in theory, it?s the kind of game that could have a broad appeal.

In practice, though, Vostok Inc. falls victim to the same problem that afflicts any other idle game: it gets pretty repetitive very quickly. While the sheer novelty of the combination is enough to carry the game for a couple of hours, once you get beyond those, it becomes a bit of a slog. Thankfully, the game doesn?t take the shortcut of pay-to-win, but the downside of that is that doing anything takes lots and lots of time.

All that said, of course, it?s always fun to see games mashing together genres you wouldn?t necessarily think go together. True, it?s even more fun when the mash-up works, but Vostok Inc. deserves kudos (if not necessarily a recommendation) for trying something new.

Badland Indie provided us with a Vostok Inc. PS Vita code for review purposes.

Grade: B-