Doomsday Vault review – not all doom and gloom

The world has ended, but it's not your vault

A small robot holds a sprouting seed in it's hand.

Like many other prestigious titles, Doomsday Vault is the latest in a long line of Apple Arcade titles finally making their way over to Nintendo Switch. Featuring a tiny robot trying to regrow crops after the apocalypse, it’s up to you to find seeds hidden on the ruins of earth and cultivate them back to health.

When you embark on this mission to grow seeds, you must explore levels to both find enough nutrients to raise them and find the selected seeds at the end of each level. The levels are isometric, with your little robot able to navigate the world by climbing up and down ladders, moving crates to create platforms, and occasionally expending energy to survive underwater briefly.

The different parts of earth you explore have their own still, languid charm and the soft colour palette helps to sell the retro-futuristic aesthetic on display. Coupled with the eerie synthesiser focused soundtrack, Doomsday Vault has a strong sense of atmosphere that I wish the gameplay could live up to. It’s not all bad, but there’s certainly room for improvement.

Most of the gameplay in Doomsday Vault is puzzle platforming, as you explore each area fully to find nutrients, seeds, and energy to explore even further. Each level has plenty of secrets tucked away, and you’ll want to find all the nutrients possible to best raise your seeds and crops later on. However, the actual puzzles on offer are simple at best, and often quite clunky with the game’s awkward control scheme.

A robot explores a decaying city over an isometric map.

Whether it’s the translation to a controller from the touch screen, or just the nature of being isometric, often when turning your robot in one direction the direction you hold the controller in no longer matches your intention. I spent far too much time spinning around, frustrated by the fact I felt I was pointing the analogue stick in the right direction, but the game was telling me another thing.

There’s plenty to enjoy though, as finding nutrients and seeds will also unlock different parts for your robot, giving you lots of customisation options to play around with and colours to display on your suit. You can go back to levels you’ve already beaten and sweep the last few collectables, but there’s little to do once you’ve gained everything, however. This is most likely a one and done experience.

A robot is standing in a room with hieroglyphics adorning tiles covering the floor

Cultivating your seeds is fun though, and with the comforting lo-fi vibes of the music and the art style, this was a peaceful way to spend a few hours. It’s never overly challenging, but if you simply want a nice way to wile away an afternoon and some lovely music to go with it, there are certainly worse ways to do it. It might be a bit expensive for what you get here, especially as it’s also part of Apple Arcade, but it’s a solid port at least.

Doomsday Vault is a lovely experience, even if it is simple, with enough charm and unlockables to keep me hooked but sadly very little reason to return. I had some minor issues with controls and this might be a touch too expensive, but it’s definitely a nice way to spend an afternoon.

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Doomsday Vault Review

A short but sweet game that offers simplistic gameplay, but enough pleasant atmosphere and charm to get you through. It's slightly expensive for what is on offer, and the controls could be better, but plenty of players will find something to love here.

6
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$46.99
$23.99
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