Cions of Vega
This game was reviewed on Xbox Series X.
Reviewed by: Oskar van der Vliet
Cions of Vega is a game that was developed by Tonguc Bodur, and released on the 9th of April in 2021, and was ported to Xbox one and Xbox series S/X by East asia soft on March 8th of 2023. I played this game on my Xbox one X. The developer seems to have a history of many titles all with the general indie genre of walking simulator, with narrative and puzzle elements, and Cions of Vega is no different.
To begin with, the presentation is largely the most polished element in the game. While the human characters are certainly not very high quality models, the areas you explore are well populated with shrubbery and the sort, so it is fairly atmospheric. This seems to be the focus of the creator, as he describes his games as having a focus on "beautiful atmospheric environments and sometimes with emotional stories" from his website. While we will analyse the story elements later, I would say that the game generally delivers aesthetically. But I feel hesitant to heap praise on the basis of these graphics, as I find that due to the incredibly generic setting, anyone who is willing to just buy some standard unity assets could achieve the same effect. There is no unique art direction I can point at. But that is all to say that while there is nuance, in the game itself it doesn't leave too much to be desired.
So let's discuss the narrative. You play as Kenny, a father searching for his daughter Leila. As you explore a derelict town you are joined by your brother Logan who provides most of the context as to who you are and to an extent what is happening. You very quickly find a pattern of lonely children, writings of missing parents and mentions of a cult. I will not spoil the ending to the story, but it is hard to discuss it in any depth without mentioning a majority of the narrative elements along the way. Especially considering that what I have described, and what is said on the steam page, makes a majority of the narrative beats you will find in the game. The dialogue is very direct in a slightly off putting way, which is hard to tell whether it's a deliberate effect or not, though I do lean towards the former. As there is not too much dialogue overall, what is present is often filled with bold faces exposition, just adding to that stilted effect. Children speak like adults, the first child encountered even sounding like a wistful poet. Now if this was being described to me as it is to you, I would be quite excited, probably picturing a pathologic style experience, but I can't make such a comparison as none of the stories' weird aspects are not in service of anything. There are no greater themes, nor anything particularly unique in the beat by beat storytelling either, it amounts to very little. While I will again, not speak in specifics, the ending to the game was certainly where I found the most entertaining by far, but not in any way I think the developer intended. It certainly would disappoint any would-be players expecting something akin to an "emotional story" as is described, but for me who wasn't getting much, the bizarre way it wraps up was just comical. I will say the odd highlight was the voice actor for Logan. I found there to be genuine examples of naturalistic acting and quite enjoyed his odd and occasionally stiff performance. But that was about the only part of value I found in regard to the narrative and storytelling.
Now as for the gameplay, unfortunately that lack of value follows through. All of the gameplay can be categorised as walking to the next place or looking for the next thing you need. Each section is guarded by a gate so usually you find a key within a nearby house or entrance. Then for each of those areas there is about 1 puzzle, whether it be fixing the fuse box to illuminate the note and key, opening a pad lock or safe by finding the code, or things along those lines. There is really nothing of substance here, there is no critical thinking required at any point. And what is interesting about this experience is its length. While this could be seen as a negative or a positive, the game totals to be about an hour or so, which means that those few examples I listed are actually about 60-70% of the game experience. Quite the virtue for me, not needing to sit through a But keep in mind I have thoroughly enjoyed sub hour games in the past. But those each had interesting aspects whether it be narrative, mechanically or a wondrous mix of both. Things like Milk inside a bag of milk or missed messages prove the benefit of a short play time.
So overall it's hard to find that much value in this experience. It's not like it values itself much either, only charging about 3 euros in europe. If you have read this review but find yourself wanting a sort of relaxed and simple experience and dont mind my criticisms go right ahead, you're not risking much but I would struggle to recommend this to anyone actively. I personally always lean positively, trying to see the good in media, and any worth or value one could pull on from many different perspectives but I really don't see much here. I give it a 1 out of 5, there are of course some things I like, but they are footnotes or only noteworthy by comparison, rather than anything that stands on its own.
Reviewed by: Oskar van der Vliet