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Storyline

The introduction tells briefly of a planet called Astara, which was inadvertently destroyed by its own inhabitants, who "opened a door better left closed." The planet was, in fact, destroyed by the Shadowraiths, after the Astani created the Rift system, which could open portals to other worlds. When the portal was opened, the Shadowraiths came through it and attacked Astara, and then drained all of the energy out of the Rift system. Seven hundred years later, Astara is literally in pieces, and all that is left are large chunks of land floating in an asteroid field, yet the individual pieces of the planet are still inhabitable. One village, called Overwood, is eventually discovered by the Shadowraith, Dark Yabu, and its inhabitants are enslaved. One villager named Vexx, who is captured along with his grandfather, Vargas, attacks Yabu in a fit of rage, and is almost killed when Yabu retaliates. But Vargas saves Vexx, and is killed by Yabu instead. Later that night, still determined to get revenge, Vexx sneaks onto Yabu's airship, where he discovers the legendary Astani war talons, which Yabu kept hidden because he was unable to destroy them. The talons permanently attach themselves to Vexx's hands, at the same time causing an explosion that destroys the airship and nearly kills Vexx. While he is unconscious, Vexx learns through a vision that Vargas' soul is still imprisoned within Yabu's magical amulet. When he wakes up, Vexx is in the company of an old man named Darby, who informs him that Yabu completely destroyed the village, and that Vexx and Darby are the only ones left. Darby, however, is too old to fight, so he instructs Vexx to collect the hearts of dead Wraiths, which still contain the energy drained from the rift system, and use them to power the gates, and find Yabu before he opens the gate to his own world. Later on, Vexx meets up with Darby again, and the two of them encounter Reia, the last remaining Astani warrior, who is also the narrator of the game. Reia exposes Darby, who turns out to be Dark Yabu in disguise. Both Reia and Vexx try to attack Yabu, but he escapes, taking Reia's magical staff with him. It is revealed that by collecting the Wraith hearts, Vexx was actually helping Yabu power the gate to his own world. But the only way to close the rift is with Reia's staff, so Vexx has to activate the rest of the gates and catch up to Yabu to get it back. Vexx finally finds Yabu in the Shadow Realm, and the two of them fight one last time. Vexx wins, and retrieves the staff, but at the same time, the platform on which he and the portal back to Astara stand begins to crumble. Unable to get back through the portal, he throws the staff through, successfully closing the rift, but also trapping himself in the shadow realm forever, leaving him to roam the lands there.

  Characters

Vexx

The main character of the game, and the last surviving astaran. Vexx is determined to avenge the death of his grandfather. At the beginning of the game, he comes across the Astani war talons, clawed gloves which give him the ability to combat his enemies, as well as climb walls, jump high, and swim underwater. His main attack is to slash at enemies with a blade of lightning/energy. Another one of his basic attacks is a 16 hit combo. If the basic 3 hit combo is performed at the right time,he can build energy in the talons and create an energy shockwave on the ground. after a certain amount of hits are delivered to shadow wraiths, the talons will have gathered enough energy to release the energy into Vexx's body, making him faster and able to throw fireballs.

Vargas

Vargas is Vexx's grandfather, and one of many slaves who are forced to help Yabu mine for Wraith hearts. He dies in the beginning of the game to save Vexx's life from Dark Yabu. After being killed, his soul is imprisoned in a magical amulet that Dark Yabu wears, tormented forever until Yabu is killed.

Reia

The last survivor of the Astani, Dark Yabu is Reia's sworn enemy. It was her father who opened the rift system, which resulted in the destruction of Astara. While the rest of the Astani were killed, Reia survived by locking herself in a tower, and learning to trust no one. Reia is also the narrator of the game, and several of her journal entries can be found in the different worlds explored throughout the game.

Darby

An old man that Vexx encounters early in the game, Darby appears to be a survivor of the Astani, but is in fact Dark Yabu in disguise. It is he who tells Vexx that he should collect the Wrath hearts to power the gates, but only so that Vexx will help him power the portal to his own world. Dark Yabu keeps up his Darby disguise until encountered by Reia, who recognizes him immediately.

Dark Yabu

The only Shadowraith encountered in the game, Dark Yabu is responsible for the death of Vexx's grandfather, and the annihilation of the rest of Overwood. Dark Yabu, like all Shadowraiths, is a shapeshifter, and ironically, tells Vexx this while he is disguised as Darby.

Gameplay

Vexx is a 3D platformer adventure game, in which the player must overcome a variety of obstacles, puzzles, and enemies in order to collect a number of Wraith hearts, which allow the player to unlock new locations. There are a total of 81 hearts in the game, but only 60 are required to beat the game. The game uses a combo-based fighting system, with several different attacks that the player can use. Most of the game, however, is based on puzzles; for each of the 81 Wraith hearts there is a clue in the form of a riddle, which the player must decipher to find the heart. Obtaining the hearts usually requires the player to find a number of items scattered throughout an area, win a mini-game or battle, or simply pass a number of obstacles.

Levels

Timberdale is a forest-type world with a massive tree that rises high above the level. There is also a large waterfall, which leads to a sub-world. Most of the goals in this level revolve around the massive tree and the waterfalls/cliffs area. There is also a tomb area where you can get the Rock Suit Power Up. Dragonreach is a desert world, the central figure of which is a massive dragon fossil embedded in a mountain with is arm outstretched, reaching towards a floating ship. This world is a lot harder to navigate than Timberdale and one of its objectives must be completed from another world. However it also houses the Air Suit Power Up to make up for it. The Neverglades are a jungle world with a large temple in the back of the level, a strange citadel behind the portal where you start and a large and treacherous lake everywhere in between. This world is easy to navigate once you get the hang of it, but the objectives are harder. Tempest Peak Manor is very odd. It seems at first that Vexx has shrunk down to the size of an insect, but he is in fact in the house of a giant. Featuring all the creature comforts of a mansion: a video game system, a grand piano and a grandfather clock. This world is particularly tricky to navigate because of the Storm Giants pet Rex, which wanders on the floor of the manor. The Below is unique because the world is almost entirely sub-worlds as the level is nothing but a massive orb of water with some outlying trails. In the dome are smaller domes, a cave entrance and a massive whale which lead to sublevels. Daggercrag is a desert level similar to Dragonreach except for the entire level is suspended above a bottomless crater. There is a massive temple on the main platform, a telescope off to one side and a crypt off the other. The level is actually quite easy to navigate if you don't mind the suspension, but the enemies here are harder. Summit of the Sages is more level than objectives. It is a forest-lake with a massive mountain that is shaped like three heads. Ironically the actual summit of the mountain holds no objective, but the heads themselves do. Frostblight Mill can be particularly annoying until you've gotten the hang of it since pretty much the entire level is covered in ice. The obvious center of this level is the massive windmill in the center but the edges of the map hold interesting and treacherous objectives that utilize every ounce of gaming skill. This area is mostly interior of the Wraith's headquarters, but a few passages lead you outside to glimpse at the fearsome structure. Easily the hardest level in the game, featuring spinning engine rings that deplete half of your life if they strike you and of course the most vicious of Yabu's soldiers. Shadowrealm is where the final confrontation takes place.
 

Reception

Initially put out as Acclaim's answer to the likes of Jak and Daxter and the rest of the members of the "badass antihero" platfomer sub-genre, it made little to no impact upon release thanks to limp marketing and tepid reception. Originally planned out to be a franchise, it (sadly) never got past this first chapter.

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