Have you ever wondered what a real-time puzzle strategy game would look like? Well don’t waste another moment wondering because such a game actually exist! Take a look at the game Vertex Dispenser.
Vertex Dispenser Website:
Steam Store Link:
My AI companion and I make an offensive push into Pink territory to knock them out of the lead.
The goal of Vertex Dispenser is to capture different colored spheres on the playing field by shooting them. This opens up a line that the player (and his teammates in team games) can travel along. If these lines are connected in a triangle, a prism is created which makes each point of the triangle harder for the enemy team to destroy and allows the connected points the ability to fire back. Other than making travel possible, these colored spheres are very important to connect for one major reason: your special powers. In game, there a variety of powers, each connected to a different color, with the most powerful abilities of all associated with the rarest colors. The more of one color you have captured, the faster those abilities charge. These range from teleporting a few spheres away instantly to calling in an airstrike that damages enemies, damages enemy territory, and claims territory for you. The way the player gains the rarer colors is by having all of the more common colors surrounding it. So, first the player captures a Blue then any connecting points will be made Red and any points touching both Blue and Red become Green which when combined with Blue and Red connections make a Yellow connection and so on and so forth. The objective is to eliminate all opposing players (AI, Teams, what have you) ensuring total domination of the map. Speaking of maps, they take on quite an interesting array of shapes. Any geometrical shape you can think of (and even those you wouldn’t) is a playable level, with the little Player ships moving along them without falling off, like Giants running around the Earth. There can be gaps in the map as well as thinly connect spheres that do not create a prism when connected. There are also options for shrubs and trees to get in the way though these are usually quickly destroyed in the beginning game.
A 2v2v2 match on a simple sphere map ensures constant conflict while making it hard for any one team to become dominant.
The player moves around in real time blasting points and other ships in a rush to claim victory. So where are the puzzle and strategy elements? Well those come from carefully claiming territory in a certain order to maximize the use of your special powers against the enemy. Also, large blocks of connected territory are much more dangerous for the enemy to push into, since it will take much longer to break up, and the number of spheres able to return fire increases the further the enemy advances . When playing, you realize that you really are just in a strategy game with a puzzle like interface where you make color combos to get the best combination. Sounds easy until your perfect color combos are constantly being destroyed by the enemy and you barely have time to think, and you push forward to break up their big color combo then fall back to repair your own. It may look silly, but getting into a close match is quite the rush. The AI is surprisingly intelligent at higher levels though their biggest advantage is their reaction time, never needing to slow down to plan the next move as it’s always right in front of their eyes. They live and breathe Vertex Dispenser, so clever strategies are necessary to win at that point. Speaking of clever strategies, be careful when challenging human opponents. The most strange and seemingly useless special powers may be utilized in ways you would never expect.
All in all Vertex Dispenser is an innovative game; you would be hard pressed to find anything like it. Though I don’t get around to playing it often, when I do it is simply a blast and a completely different experience from everything else out there. Feel free to try the demo on Steam to see if it suits you as the rapid puzzle-like gameplay may not capture all of our hearts and minds, though for some of us out there it is a refreshing change of pace.
The after-game menu shows when each side used what powers as well as their relative control over the map’s territory.