Vandals review for Nintendo Switch, PC

Platform: Switch
Also On: PC
Publisher: ARTE Experience
Developer: Novelab
Medium: Digital
Players: 1
Online: No

If you were ever fortunate enough to play Hitman GO or Lara Croft GO, Vandals will seem awfully familiar. It features the same kind of turn-based puzzle gameplay, where you have to make your way across an isometric board and meet certain objectives in order to get through.

Unlike those two games however, Vandals doesn?t have any kind of pre-established identity to draw from. While that may be a plus or a minus depending on how you view those games, it also means that Vandals has to sink or swim on its own merits. Luckily, for the most part, it swims.

This is because Vandals has a pretty simple hook: you play as the titular vandal, and you sneak around cities like Paris and Berlin tagging buildings with graffiti. There are, of course, police to avoid scattered around the board/neighbourhood, and you have various items at your disposal like bottles and whistles to make noise and draw them away from where you want to go.

As was the case with the likes of Hitman GO, Vandals works because within that limited scope, there?s room for a lot of challenge and ingenuity. Better still, even though there?s the standard three-star rating system for every level, Vandals a) makes it plain how you get each star (beat the level undetected, beat it within a certain number of moves, and pick up the bonus), and b) it doesn?t force you to pick up stars to move on to later levels, leaving you free to try solutions out to your heart?s content.

I?ll also note that if you?re a creative type, you?ll be pleased to hear that Vandals allows you to indulge your creativity by letting you create your own graffiti. I?m not a creative type, which meant I drew lots and lots of smiley faces and stick figures, but I assume I?m in the minority who doesn?t enjoy drawing.

Vandals isn?t without its flaws. In particular, the controls can be a little iffy, and you?ll occasionally find yourself forced to shove the right thumbstick a couple of times before your character finally moves where you want them to go. Also, with just five cities, none of which will take you too long to finish and, three stars notwithstanding, none of which have much in the way of replay value, you may find that the game is over far too soon.

But better to leave you wanting more than to wear out its welcome, right? Besides, Vandals can be had for well under $5 — which, all things considered, put it squarely in ?easy-to-recommend impulse buy? territory.

ARTE Experience provided us with a Vandals Nintendo Switch code for review purposes.

Grade: A-