While making graffiti is a bit of bust, the game's puzzles are surprisingly fun.
Vandals happens to be a game I'm quite familiar with. If you look at it from a glance, one thing will be instantly clear: it looks a lot like Square Enix's GO series. That is, in all honesty, a positive thing. The simple method of moving pieces around, maneuvering around obstacles, and getting the most out of your turns is incredible. Vandals can easily be seen as a rip-off of the Square Enix line, but ultimately it’s just a good time. Was it a completely fun experience? Mostly, but it has a few weird quirks.
To get straight to the point, Vandals is the first game of this type in a while that dares to be different. While the basic structure of hopping from space to space remains in play, there are many elements to consider. You are a graffiti artist, trying to bring life to the streets. This isn't without danger or risk. Cops are standing on every corner of the street, eyeing to take you into custody. The levels will see you grabbing a spray can, putting up your art, and using throw items to distract the police so that you can get to the goal.
The cops are usually fixed in place. That is until you throw an item, blow your whistle, or use the can. It is where the strategy of Vandals really comes into its own. You constantly have to move back and forth to stay out of sight. To give an example, there are chances to hide in the bushes or dive into the sewers if you do your routing well. All of this is needed to get yourself out of danger. Unlike other games in the turn-based puzzle genre, the controls are a little weird. Instead of moving a fixed cursor around, which would hop from space-to-space, you control the protagonist himself. You have to move the stick in a certain direction and then let go of it. It is an incredibly weird way to control a game like this. Not that it is particularly awful, but it’s just very awkward to implement it in that specific way. Vandals would've done better by keeping it simple.
Next to the strategic elements of the game, Vandals tries to throw another curveball into the mix. You will be able to create your own patterns and stick them on the walls in the game. Once you are zoomed it, your creation remains on the surface of the stage. Next to this, it will also go in the collection menu where you can admire your best work. Honestly, the novelty wears off way too fast, pushing me to opt for the generic logos with your name. I know that the purpose is to learn about the history of graffiti, so why not make that an element within the puzzles themselves?
Overall, Vandals is fairly enjoyable. While I did wish the controls were better, I did like the puzzles a whole lot. The puzzles make it fun to constantly sneak back and forth, and inch closer to the end of each stage effectively. The educational side felt like somewhat of a throwaway, mostly because it wasn't part of the main game. Their solution, making your own art, loses its charm after the first world. With some tweaking, Vandals could have been excellent, but for now it feels unfocused.