Vision Soft Reset Review
It may seem unassuming from the screenshots, but Vision Soft Reset is one of the freshest takes on Metroidvania design I’ve ever seen: it combines speed-running with technical challenge, and even a little time travel thrown in for good measure.
Vision Soft Reset has you controlling a creature named Oracle who moves around via a mechanical suit. Oracle and their friend have arrived on an island that houses a shield designed to prevent the planet’s core from exploding. Oracle is very cocky for one simple reason: they have the power to control time — they can rewind to revisit the past, or fast-forward to peer into the future.
In terms of raw gameplay, Vision Soft Reset combines elements from various 2D games along with a Metroidvania design. You’ll use a blaster for your primary attack; it can be charged up for more powerful attacks, but you’ll also find other kinds of upgrades while exploring. At any time — and while you have the energy (or focus) — you can rewind time to avoid damage or redo jumps. You only start with two hearts of health, and many larger enemies can one shot you at this point. As long as you have focus available, you are free to rewind — even from death. In keeping with the time-control theme, you’re able to see visions that show you where enemies are moving as well as their attack patterns.
This might sound straightforward enough so far, but you’ll quickly discover the game’s twist; that’s where the time travel stuff gets really interesting.
After making it through the game’s opening segment, you’ll discover that the shield protecting the core has failed and there are only 20 minutes left before the end of the world. Ouch. The world’s fate is in your hands and, all of a sudden, your mission pivots to focus on figuring out how to repair the shield (and to discover what went wrong in the first place).
This is where Vision Soft Reset begins to up the complexity in terms of time manipulation. As you explore the island, you’ll find stations that allow you to place a bookmark in the timeline — these act as save points. If, for any reason, you need to return to a previous point (perhaps things just aren’t working out), you can return to any bookmark via the Time Tree screen. This also has the effect of rewinding time to the point where you actually created said bookmark.
On the surface, this ability might sound like it makes you completely omnipotent. But there are a few devious twists to be considered.
To provide context, I need to pause and briefly mention the two kinds of upgrades in the game: there are physical upgrades that increase your health and focus reserves, and decryptors that unlock entirely new functionality within your suit. The decryptors act as permanent upgrades that fundamentally change how you move around the island. Health and focus, on the other hand, only stay active within the timeline in which you picked them up. So, if you rewind to a point before you acquired one of these upgrades, you’ll essentially lose them. To add insult to injury, there are several areas of the world that can only be accessed at specific times within the overall 20 minute envelope. If you reach any of these places too late, your only choice is to go back to a previous bookmark.
Given these considerations, it’s fair to say that the game is on the challenging side, as you try to balance picking up the additional upgrades you need while also heading to required areas within time limit.
There’s some added variety here in terms of puzzles. Vision Soft Reset features four puzzles that you must complete in order to beat the game. Each of these will rely on your time-altering powers in some way, but honestly, they’re more annoying than interesting. One of the challenges here is that, in order to solve the puzzles, you’re often going to have to use knowledge gained in the future on a particular timeline in order to solve a puzzle that is only accessible earlier in said timeline. To do this, you’ll need to memorize clues — sadly, these clues aren’t actually given to you as notes that you can refer back to. Well, actually, the game does do that, but you have to solve the relevant puzzle first, thereby making the notes meaningless. It’s a little backwards.
As I said earlier, this is a challenging game. Don’t let the video above fool you — there are a lot of mechanically-demanding jumps and manoeuvres you’ll need to pull off. The dodge move, for example, is integrated into different actions you’ll need to perform in order to get through and around obstacles.
Overall, Vision Soft Reset is my first real pleasant surprise of 2019. I definitely enjoyed it, and I think it’s worth a look for fans of Metroidvania design in general. With just a little more polish here and there, I think this could be the start of a great franchise.