Vlad is an interesting mix of ideas, liberally picked up from other App Store stalwarts and blended together with a horror theme and some fresh ideas to create a brew that's not unpleasant, but fails to intoxicate all the same.
For every interesting new mechanic there's a difficulty spike, and for every idea that gels there are control issues and obfuscations that make you unsure whether what you're doing is going to have the desired effect.I vant to push your blocks
The game is all about leading a dark spectre to a robotic head. The ghoul automatically moves from left to right across the screen, only stopping when it reaches an impassable obstacle. It's up to you to make those obstacles passable.
Each level gives you a variety of tools to achieve this goal. Pudgy pink heads can fill in holes or be used as lifts, chompy blocks bite out chunks of scenery, and magnets can pick up things in the squares adjacent to them.
New helpers are added as you progress through the three different worlds, with each requiring a new tactic or style of play to fully exploit.
You control your blocks with a finger, swiping them into position, tapping them to activate their skills, or hurling them in the direction of obstinate bits of scenery. Unfortunately, sometimes you'll get things wrong, and this exposes a hideous flaw in the game's design.
There's no 'undo' button. If you get everything set up for a level and execute it perfectly, only to chuck a Stomper into the wrong wall at the end, you're going to have to go through the whole process all over again. And the slightly sloppy controls mean that this is going to happen a lot. One mistake means you have to reset the entire level.Vlad timing
This isn't Vlad's only flaw. There are some laughably huge difficulty spikes, so towering that you'll sometimes find yourself wondering whether the levels have been put together in the wrong order.
It all makes for a disjointed experience. When Vlad gets things right it's an interesting and unique little puzzler that makes you think in different ways. But when it gets them wrong it's a frustrating and underwhelming mess.