When a review is marked as ‘in progress’, it is done on the basis that enough time has been invested to obtain solid impressions even though we have been unable to beat it.  This may be down to an extreme length or brutal difficulty, but either way it is a title that has overcome us… at least for a period of time.

Games marked as such will receive the usual review treatment, plus some additional footage to help give you a general idea of what to expect. These games will likely be finished at some point, and the review will be updated accordingly. As such, keep checking back if you want to keep a track of our full final thoughts when we have them!

Many thanks to the publisher for the review code

First off all, a disclaimer as to why this game is one of our in-progress reviews rather than a full one. It’s nothing to do with length, nor quality, but rather due to the game going through Nintendo certification hell with what was supposed to be a launch patch. Whilst the game itself is mostly fine as it is (mostly), I’d rather share my thoughts on the game based on the initial few hours with it and then revisit it once the patch drops.

The patch will address some relatively minor issues, some softlocks (most notably being unable to exit the controls screen if entered from the main menu), but also features some rebalancing that will make the game easier. As such, the game at present may not necessarily reflect the game as it is in the very near future.

Sure, I could have waited, but I have a soft spot for the (admittedly flawed) original and was keen on getting coverage out for the new one on launch day. Just bear in mind that this will be updated after either the first or second patch (which adds new features), so make sure to check back if you want to read my finalised thoughts.

Many thanks to Feardemic for the review code.

For those familiar with the original Vaccine, you may be wondering just what the hell Vaccine Rebirth actually is. The eshop description describes it as ‘an expansion of the original idea’, but that doesn’t really help potential purchasers all that much. In essence, Rebirth is a remake of Vaccine – albeit with some very notable changes. Key changes include the addition of actual puzzles to solve in true survival horror fashion; lots of new rooms, enemies, and weapons; a much-needed map system; and an expansion to the original story that adds lots of new lore, and even fixes some of the translation issues that existed in the original. Really, it renders the original Vaccine obsolete by improving on it in every single way – it’s even cheaper too!


Whilst the game does contain a new opening cinematic to help explain why our protagonists are dossing about in a strange mansion, the rest of the plot remains largely the same as before. After some police officers go missing whilst investigating the disappearance of a young boy, the Rapid Response Tactical Unit (RRTU) are sent in to get to the bottom of things. The problem is that your partner succumbs to some kind of infection shortly after entering, so your main priority will be finding a cure in order to help them.

The only problem is that your partner relapses again, and again, and again. Combined with the ever-shifting mansion filled with its traps and undead monstrosities, all hope seems lost. However, as you explore the mansion and delve into its secrets, the key to breaking out of this cycle will start to become apparent.

There’s not a lot in the way of plot here, but there’s just enough mystery told through the game’s documents that help keep you pushing forward until you make it to the real end. The good thing is that obtained documents will be saved forever and accessible from the main menu, allowing you to build the full picture of everything going on.

The setup is quite reminiscent of the original Resident Evil and that’s for good reason. Inspiration is clearly taken from the PlayStation classic in both the game’s setting and overall presentation. It’s not quite as pleasing on the eye, however, but that is mainly down to the game’s mansion being constructed from random chunks rather than designed as a cohesive whole.


The procedural generation does work though, for the most part, with the mansion being assembled from an assortment of random rooms, and then inserting unique elements such as items, weapons, and puzzle components in order to make everything feel complete. The number of possible rooms isn’t particularly high, however, and can lead to some unusual mansion designs such as one run where I had three kitchens all strung together in a row. This does improve as you progress through the game, however, as subsequent area themes don’t feel out of place so much when you encounter the same room; it’s much easier to get away with repeated rooms in a lab than it is with a house.

This also extends to the weapons and the enemies too, which can feel rather limited during the first loop. As you take out the same boring zombies and flies with one of the fifty combat knives that you’ll encounter, you start to wonder if the formula really works. Thankfully, after the first area you’ll start encountering a lot more unique enemy types as well as actual guns to use, making the roguelike formula click a whole lot more.

The final randomly generated component is the newly introduced puzzles, and they’re reasonably solid for the most part. One example of a typical inventory puzzle includes an electronic door that requires a generator to function. The generator is lacking fuel, which can be obtained by locating and inserting a gemstone into the statue that holds it. Stupid, for sure, but these were the standard bread and butter for classic survival horror games so these should feel natural to fans of the genre. There are other puzzles that take the form of basic minigames, but these inventory puzzles will make up the most part of your puzzling experience.


Aside from all this procedural generation, the other key difference between Vaccine Rebirth and classic survival horror titles is the use of an RPG system in order to get stronger. Your character starts with pretty low stats for their Determination, Aiming, Stamina, and Luck. In order to improve these, you need to level them up by gaining experience points. Thankfully pretty much everything in the game will net you XP, from killing enemies, to solving puzzles, and even just opening a door. Your stats will help increase your damage, health, and even the chances of obtaining better items. Determination seemed to be the most useless of the four, but the other three all offer some pretty decent bonuses.

What makes the levelling system work is that it mirror’s the enemy progression quite well. Starting out you’re facing nothing but simple filler enemies that can be taken out with a combat knife and some careful dodging, but later on you’ll be facing far tougher creatures that require heavy weaponry and greater strength to take down. It allows the game to always feel like a challenge, even from the very start.

And the game is a challenge too, especially when you’re first starting. Some enemies are relentless and hit pretty hard, even on the lowest difficulty (which mercifully removes the time limit for you to find and deliver the cure to your friend). Some of this is due to broken enemy AI and some balancing issues – both of which are to be addressed in that upcoming initial patch – but given that you can also exploit how dumb they are, it’s not too much of an issue unless you find yourself overwhelmed. 

I honestly left the remake feeling rather impressed with how much the game has improved from the original. It does feel dated when compared to some of the more modern survival horror experiences (such as the phenomenal SIGNALIS), but for a budget experience it’s still pretty good. The game does have its quirks, such as an annoying confusion status that alters your controls should you commit the cardinal sin of backtracking – but this is going to be removed in the secondary patch so isn’t something that should affect your overall purchase decision.


Vaccine Rebirth takes the original and addresses some of the issues that held it back. With various improvements, as well as many, many, new additions, this makes the game a far more enjoyable experience for those who perhaps didn’t click with the original Vaccine when it first released. It still has its issues, and its archaic design will still put many off, but I’m looking forward to seeing how the game continues to develop over the coming months.