Vangers (Вангеры, also known as Vangers: One for the Road) is a 1998 video game that combines elements of the racing and role-playing genres, developed by K-D Lab, a Russian company. It was released in North America in June, 1998 after receiving positive responses at that year's E3.
At the end of the 20th century certain human Spirits achieved transcendental contact with powers resembling an Infinite Mind. The gained technology that had the most dramatic impact on human evolution was the permanent tunneling of space: the creation Passages which enabled travel to alien worlds. A cosmogonical model of the universe, with its planets, stars and galaxies, became unnecessary. Humankind rushed headlong to new worlds, exploring and colonizing, unthinking and heedless of any consequences. While the finest minds assimilated knowledge from the new worlds, others bent on conquest rushed forth with vehicles of mass destruction. The entire human culture was significantly distorted under the impact of the rapidly growing Chain of Worlds.
This exploration lasted for hundreds of years until humanity met Cryspo, a powerful insect race. The collective mind of a Cryspo colony was totally unintelligible to the humans with their individual psyches. Conversely, the advance guard of explorers immediately started slaying these strange beasts, whose power was extremely underestimated. By the time people realized their technological inferiority to the new enemy, the Cryspo had managed to enter the Passage and had discovered the new, unclaimed territories. Disunited and defenseless, the settlers managed to seal off major cities, leaving the rest of the world to the Cryspo. Millions of the Softie (named for their physical helplessness) were isolated with the Cryspo and became to serve as biomass for their larvae.
The rapidly decreasing Softie population attempted a last counter-strike inspired by the Infinite Mind: genetic intrusion. In the following generations, biomolecular chaos erased all the original Softie and Cryspo and formed the sinister Bouillon of Spawn. The Cryspo anatomy proved to be more advanced and better suited for the local habitat; the Softie complex nervous system proved superior in terms of versatility. The Lostie inherited these characteristics from their ancestors. Thousand years passed, the Lostie have stabilized and formed aberrant tribes of inbred creatures. Living on the rubble of powerful and ancient civilizations, they practice endless cult cycles in an attempt to establish a rationale for their existence.
The player belongs to the clan of Vangers-explorers, warriors, traders and pirates-in a world that is only just beginning to wake up from the oblivion. The strange Worlds of the Lost Chain emerge as time passes. They are full of mystery, weird inhabitants and dangerous competitors. Eventually, it will be revealed that the Clash between the Softie and the Cryspo was not coincidental: the weird history of the Bouillon of Spawn had been planned by the Infinite Mind specifically to develop a new type of warrior-the Vanger...
The new-born child is given a home - the universal vehicle machine. Popped up to the hostile surface you see the world living through special cycles (or bunches). It is large and you are free to explore it, trade, fight or do whatever you want. Listening to old Losties word by word you learn their original language, the history and the current. Money is represented by small bugs that can be found almost everywhere and collected for free. You participate in weird competitions gaining respect from authorities. Later you discover other worlds in the Chain, find unique artifacts that allow you to communicate with High Powers that live aside the Chain.
The player is initially weak and can be easily killed by other Vangers. Your opponents are highly intelligent and have their own personalities. For example, they remember you after firing at them and do the same on the next meet. They are as free as you. Some of them are aggressive, some are calm and peaceful, some are even completing tasks and searching for artifacts. You can easily treat them like real human opponents forming artificial MMOG.
Two attributes represent your role status: Luck and Dominance. The first parameter increases your chances to find hidden chests. The second might frighten other vangers and allows you to see ancient creatures. The spectrum of available roles is wide enough to provide the real feeling of freedom. You can enjoy endless competitions or became a vehicle pirate.
All the worlds in Vangers were created with Surmap A.R.T., K-D Lab's proprietary terrain editor, and the accompanying voxel-polygonal technology. It is features of Surmap that allowed creating such organic worlds. They look nothing like manually painted models, yet every detail was carefully planned and designed by an artist; there's no randomly generated stuff. Each object on the map is destructible, vehicle wheels leave traces on the ground, an explosion may even break the road... There is an option allowing you to keep all changes to the terrain on the hard disk, what makes your traveling even more realistic.
Port to Unix
- Official Vangers web site (English version)
- "The way of the Vanger the way it is meant to be", a walkthrough of the game by the developers