For a game set in a post-apocalyptic Earth no longer capable of sustaining life, Doomsday Vault is a peaceful and adorable game. You play as an astronaut from the far-flung future, returning to Earth’s ravaged remains long after humanity has perished. Your mission is to collect the seeds of various plants and bring them to your Vault to preserve and revive them.
This is a fantastic premise from the start and is ingrained into the gameplay and execution in such a way that the explicitly environmental message doesn’t feel at all heavy-handed or overbearing. Instead, you just feel a sense of joy and fulfilment at every seed you find and manage to nurture. It generates a sense of pride in taking care of the environment, without the need for any terrifying (if accurate) climate crisis propaganda.
The gameplay in Doomsday Vault takes the form of puzzles you have to solve to navigate your environment. You’ll need to figure out how to climb over things, cross treacherous crumbling bridges, blast your way through rocks in your way and make use of buttons and levers to clear doors. You also need to be conscious of your oxygen levels, as some platforms will take you underwater where you only have limited time to breathe.
You reach the end of each mission when you’ve solved the puzzles and found the seed you’re looking for. There are also nutrients scattered around each level that dictate how many crops you can grow from the seed once you’ve got it back to the vault. These also determine what cool pattern, colours and styles you can unlock to customise your space suit. This offers some incentive to go back and replay each mission to make sure you’ve explored every possible corner.
The missions take you on an adventure throughout various fun settings. You visit various locations scattered across the planet with inspiration taken from different types of environments, from flooded cities to abandoned space stations to the ancient pyramids.
The simple narrative ends when you’ve filled your vault with crops, but that’s not where the game ends. Doomsday Vault offers challenges that build on the skills you’ve developed in the story mode. They take the form of races, item collections, survival challenges and mazes. They are excellent. They allow you to unlock more customisable options for your suit, as well as going back as often as you like to beat not only your own best scores but those logged by other players on an online leaderboard.
Doomsday Vault currently has a note saying there will be more challenges coming, which I am very much looking forward to because I can’t get enough of this adorable, wholesome game.