Vanished: The Island in Review – An Entertaining Cliche

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A good adventure game has a balanced story.  It gives you enough to keep you interested but not so much that you have no reason to continue playing.  The puzzles are fair and at least some of them should be challenging.  There will be both inventory based challenges and riddles that simply challenge the mind.  In a perfect world there would be NPC interaction as well, but sometimes the story might prohibit that.  And even though you might have to do a lot of traipsing back and forth, you won’t mind because you’re too into the game.  Vanished: The Island is a good adventure game.

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The plot, as so many tend to be these days, is a bit cliché.  You get called to an island by a mysterious note from your aunt, only to find her missing and the island basically abandoned.  Through a friendly crow and your own wits you must discover the secrets behind the island and ultimately find your aunt.  As you explore the island you’ll run across books and journals that provide details on certain things, and you’ll also find certain locations that trigger flashbacks or actual visions of events that took place to lead up to the present situation.  They did a decent job of presenting the story and actually making you want to read entries as they are written into your own personal journal.

Navigating around the island requires tapping on a spot to move to that location or using the back button in the upper left corner to return to the last place you were at.  Sometimes it is difficult to tell what is considered background and what leads to a new location, and as a result I had to consult a walkthrough once or twice because I missed something that wasn’t obvious.  Unfortunately, the same can be said for items.  Once you find your inventory, however, it’s usually pretty obvious where you need to use things.  To apply an item you simply drag it from your inventory to the place on the screen where you want to use it.  The only issues I really had with the controls were the couple of mini-games that were included.  2D puzzles in a 3D world didn’t work so well, at least not in this case.  The pieces of the puzzles were hard to move around and I was thankful when they were both complete.

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There were quite a few rooms to navigate through, but the developer was nice enough to provide a “quick jump” feature.  Several main areas were denoted on a map, and you could select them and tap a portal button to go immediately to that location.  I would have liked to been able to tag my own screens to jump to, but this still worked reasonably well.  One interesting thing about the game is that as you transitioned between certain parts of the island there were slight loading times, though you didn’t necessarily have those same loading issues when you moved back to the screen you had just come from.  It’s not significant but it’s still enough to notice in case you’re one of those people that get annoyed with loading screens.

Visually, I was a bit disappointed with Vanished.  The graphics didn’t look bad, but it seemed very low res and somewhat muted color-wise.  I know the Unity engine is capable of some pretty slick stuff even on mobile devices, and the landscape just didn’t impress me for the most part.  Conversely, I did like the hand drawn “cut scenes” that explained certain happenings, and I wish there would have been more of those.  The sound effects were decent enough and the music worked well to keep things from being too quiet.  I definitely wasn’t wowed with the aesthetics in Vanished: The Island.

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iOS is certainly coming into its own as a platform for adventure games, and I grow more excited with each solid release like this one.  It wasn’t perfect, especially with regards to the mini-games and audio / visual department.  When it comes down to it, though, I was as intrigued by the game once I had finished it as I was when I started.  For years many folks have touted that the adventure game genre was dead.  I never really believed that, but I’m beginning to wonder if the authors of such games were just waiting for a new platform to bring their creations to life on.  Whatever the case, they’re back now and getting better with every release.

Grab It Rating - 4/5

App Summary
Title: Vanished: The IslandDeveloper: SkyHorse Interactive
Reviewed Ver:Min OS Req:4.3
Price:$0.99App Size:
  • Intriguing, well paced story
  • Fair and sometimes challenging puzzles
  • Quick way to navigate between key locations
  • Sometimes hard to figure out where to go
  • Mini-games difficult to manipulate
  • Audio and visual elements somewhat lackluster

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