After the apocalypse comes a little scavenger, moving over the broken landscape, searching for life. But this scavenger does not move like a scavenger – they do not move furtively, tentatively. Doomsday Vault has a control scheme based around swiping and holding in one of four directions to move. It makes your little on-screen avatar feel rather truck-like. Forward, backwards, turn, reverse. After the apocalypse who is left to ask them to be more elegant?
Doomsday Vault is at least two games, I think, but I haven’t spent enough time with it to understand the second. The first sees you venturing out across various shattered locations, finding a path forward, dropping a box into a river to provide a stepping stone across a gap, climbing a ladder, braving a prolonged dip in a toxic pool. Your mission is to search for missing plants. Once you’ve found them you can take them back to the Doomsday Vault itself and grow them. This is the part of the game I have merely tinkered with. I have grown a few things and felt pretty good about it, but I don’t really know where it’s all leading.
Out there in the apocalypse, though, Doomsday Vault is admirably direct. You move across the landscape picking up fertiliser, topping up your energy and solving simple puzzles as you look for the plants you’re after. The music drives you forward – insistent and perhaps slightly addled – but so does the stoical blankness of your little person on the screen. A space suit? A robot? Something else?
The sense for now is of being well taken care of while also not knowing what lies ahead. It’s an enviable position to be in twenty or thirty minutes into a game. Doomsday Vault’s fiction gives it a sense of weight and consequence – but also a welcome mystery.