I don’t think I’ll ever cease to be impressed by what solo developers can achieve currently. Modern tools and game engines allow for some great-looking experiences, no matter how small the budget. Sergey Sergeich’s 33MM, 7th Sector, and In Rays of the Light are all good examples of this.
Tonguc Bodur has been using modern tech to good effect too, creating the recent The Redress of Mira – which we described as giving off Skyrim vibes – along with this outdoorsy first-person adventure.
I took the time to research Cions of Vega before jumping in, and it quickly became apparent what I was in for. The biggest indicator was the runtimes of YouTube walkthroughs, each lasting around 45 minutes. True to their word, Cions of Vega only asks for around an hour of your time. The achievement list was more revealing still, suggesting that progress lies heavily on finding keys and opening gates. And wouldn’t you know, that’s how most of that hour is spent.
As you can probably summarise from the screenshots on this page, Cions of Vega looks reasonably accomplished. The great outdoors is rendered in rich detail, the water effects are eye-catching, and there are some pleasingly small details – such as someone’s wellington boots left partly submerged in a patch of mud. As the experience draws to a close, however, asset recycling comes to light – each house visited while searching for a mission person is adorned with increasingly familiar pizza boxes, milk cartons, and other knickknacks.
Our silent protagonist, Kenny, is joined by the far chattier Logan. Together they scout the woods for the whereabouts of Kenny’s younger sister, with Logan chiming in periodically to offer sage advice gained from various life lessons. Houses are spread out on the path ahead, and to progress, you’ll need to seek access, solve the occasional casual puzzle, and find the key that’ll unlock the next area. This structure is in place throughout the entire 1-hour duration, never deviating.
Weirdly, every house visited has a child standing outside, almost motionless. This lends an unwelcome ‘uncanny valley’ vibe – one accompanied by some awful dialogue, with the children referring to you as “good sir” and other monikers that no child would typically use. Logan’s dialogue isn’t much better. At least the diary entries and letters found within each house, usually next to a gate key, are more coherent. A good thing too, as these are used to propel the storyline along.
Without wanting to give too much away, the ending provides multiple choices – each of which results in a different wall of text upon selection.
The presentation is more functional than fancy elsewhere. In lieu of a tutorial, the occasional button prompt appears whenever you’re required to jump or duck. There’s no inventory either, but it’s debatable whether one was required – for the most part, only a single key is in your possession. The only technical hiccup I experienced was becoming snagged on a bedside table, requiring a restart.
I knew what I was getting into here: a short, occasionally good-looking, experience with a straightforward story to tell. It met those expectations, but never went beyond exceeding them. The story never took an unexpected turn, the puzzles never evolved into anything more than flicking a few switches, and the locations never became more interesting as things progressed. It’s a shame that it didn’t lean into the puzzle elements more, as it would have helped extend the runtime.
Indeed, this would have made an excellent Game Pass addition. The £6 asking price is in line with its runtime though, so it certainly isn’t being missold. But as much as I’d like to say this is a good way to spend a dull Sunday afternoon, chances are you’ll see everything long before Songs of Praise airs on BBC One.
Cions of Vega is out now on Xbox One, Xbox Series, PS5 and PS4. Published by eastasiasoft.