Trace Vector is a modern take on tough as nails, high speed, vector, action arcade games from the 1980's. Turn up the music, navigate your ship through high speed warp networks, maintain your fuel reserves, avoid deadly hazards, and try to safely return home! Quarters not required.
User reviews: Positive (34 reviews) - 82% of the 34 user reviews for this game are positive.
Release Date: Aug 19, 2014

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Recommended By Curators

"Showed at PAX East 2015 - Fiddling with the bloom graphics settings makes for a lot of fun in this puzzle game."
Read the full review here.

Recent updates View all (1)

May 8

1.04 Update

[All Versions]

  • Portals are now exciting new shapes to make them more distinct and to help colorblind players.
  • Scene skips happen faster.
  • Added Xbox 360 Controller support.
  • Updated tutorials and menus to reflect keyboard or controller use.
That's it for now.

Note: The high score name input method has been changed to require holding the up or down button for about half a second to begin cycling through the alphabet. A small update is coming soon to accommodate the old behavior as well.

2 comments Read more


“A unique spectical of light and sound that captures the mystery, whimsy, of a long forgotten era of classic gaming." "The pumping electronica music throughout the game is one of the first truely great soundtracks of the year." "... the reflex heavy gameplay is a rewarding and satisfying experience." "The game is a unique take on the endless runner genre, a wonderful spectical of light and sound, and a love letter to an almost forgotten niche of classic arcade nirvana." "... Trace Vector is a shining gem and hopefully a glimpse of awesome things to come this year in indie gaming.”

About This Game

Gameplay Summary
Trace Vector is a high speed action arcade game with puzzle elements. Featuring a modern take on vector style graphics, Trace Vector plays like an easy to learn, hard to master, game of the golden age of the 80′s video arcades. Race your space ship through each geometric level grabbing extra fuel cells along the way. Reach a viable goal to shatter the networks' hold on your ship and increase your speed. Simple controls keep you focused on navigating the increasingly complex webs at ever increasing speeds. Collect fuel cells and warp time to assist in the precision maneuvering needed to ace a level! Warping time quickly exhausts precious fuel. If you deplete your fuel and crash it's game over.

Hyperspace networks have hazards at every turn. Dead end paths, barriers, and worm holes that can send you back in time and space increase the danger; forcing you to think ahead and be prepared to deal with your previous route through the network. Hyperspace is a strange place. Go forth brave pilot. Keep your wits in order, escape the neon labyrinths, and scavenge enough fuel to return home safely.

Adventure Mode: A unique driving and evolving soundtrack designed for Trace Vector matches your progress through each of the twelve zones. Help Jason and his ship Aurora return to home planet by exploiting an ancient and hazardous hyper network! Your wits, reflexes, and rockin' tunes are your tools for survival in this high energy neon journey!

Endless Mode: Go for distance! A continuously generated high speed level spans before you as gain speed and avoid crashing! Pass the previously set high score markers and take over the high score board! No quarters are required to retry.

  • Evolving soundtrack kicks up as you progress through each level
  • High energy, yet strangely cerebral, gameplay requires you to think and react quickly to each level
  • Simple controls let you focus on navigating and thinking ahead. Press left/right (or up/down if you prefer) to guide the ship line through each level
  • Burn fuel and slow time at any point of your choosing to give you an edge
  • Avoid dead ends, barriers, and the previously traveled line as you race towards a viable goal
  • Levels continuously increase in speed, danger, and complexity
  • Unlock Expert Mode featuring mirrored levels and an even faster and more brutal rule set
  • High score tables track your runs in each zone and let you examine where you can improve for better scores
  • Vector style graphics with adjustable effect levels to ensure maximum performance
  • Proprietary game engine specifically implemented for Trace Vector
  • Rad tunes

System Requirements

Mac OS X
SteamOS + Linux
    • OS: Windows XP / Vista / 7 / 8
    • Processor: 2 GHZ
    • Memory: 128 MB RAM
    • Graphics: 1024x768 minimum resolution, OpenGL 2.0 Support
    • Hard Drive: 132 MB available space
    • Sound Card: OpenAL Compatible
    • Additional Notes: Dedicated GPU is recommended for glow effects, which can be turned off
    • OS: Mac OS 10.6 or Higher
    • Processor: 2 GHZ
    • Memory: 128 MB RAM
    • Graphics: 1024x768 minimum resolution, OpenGL 2.0 Support
    • Hard Drive: 132 MB available space
    • Sound Card: OpenAL Compatible
    • Additional Notes: Dedicated GPU is recommended for glow effects, which can be turned off
    • OS: Linux [Ubuntu or similar flavor] 64-Bit
    • Processor: 2 GHZ
    • Memory: 128 MB RAM
    • Graphics: 1024x768 minimum resolution, OpenGL 2.0 Support
    • Hard Drive: 132 MB available space
    • Sound Card: OpenAL Compatible
    • Additional Notes: Dedicated GPU is recommended for glow effects, which can be turned off
Helpful customer reviews
2 of 3 people (67%) found this review helpful
0.2 hrs on record
Posted: May 25
I almost hate to write this. I can see Trace Vector being appealing to certain people. I am not one of those people.

Gameplay is a combination of memorization and reflex. As you are shown levels in advance, you can memorize the direction changes necessary during the preview. Or you can rely on reflex, picking your course as you play. You can also perform a combination of the two.

For a game based around fast decision making, the game feels artificially slow. While the section previews allow you to plan your path in advance, they are unskippable and can become annoying. When you add in the other filler of a section title display and the line exploding into particles, it can feel like you are spending as much time not playing the game as playing it.

Direction switching is not instantaneous. If you wait until right before a junction to switch direction, you won't switch direction in time. This can be annoying, particularly if you are relying on reflex.

Levels consist of several sections played back to back. If you fail, or just get bored and quit, you have to start over from the first section no matter how easy it is. Again, this makes the game feel artificially slow. The game is seemingly forgiving in that running into a dead end isn't itself a failure; you simply restart the section with your current fuel. You can force a manual restart as well, again losing spent fuel. But running out of fuel is failure. The whole fuel mechanic feels like more artificial slowness, both in dragging out a run that has crossed into failure and in forcing the game to restart at the first section upon failure.

The game simply feels like a game that wants to be fast, but has a design that repeatedly conflicts with that desire.

As for the music, while other reviewers like it, it does absolutely nothing for me.
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1 of 2 people (50%) found this review helpful
28.4 hrs on record
Posted: July 20
Nice game, a little difficult but its fine. Soundtrack is good too.
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25 of 32 people (78%) found this review helpful
5.1 hrs on record
Posted: August 19, 2014
An excellent throwback to '80's arcade machines, this game is fast, furious, and /incredibly/ challenging. Not for the faint of heart, even veteran gamers will stopped dead without focus, practice, and very quick reflexes. I highly recommend this intense audiovisual experience, but only if you think you're up for it. If you're not good at twitch reflex and aren't willing to spend a long time practicing, this game is not for you.
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19 of 25 people (76%) found this review helpful
48.9 hrs on record
Posted: August 21, 2014
This game is great, the levels are super cool and challenging, the music brings you back to the 80's and it perfectly fits the game.

Trace Vector is just fantastic.
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9 of 10 people (90%) found this review helpful
3.6 hrs on record
Posted: March 26
Trace Vector begins with a soundtrack. Well, to be exact it begins with a line. Lines upon lines purposefully arranged into perfectly angular designs, burning neon star charts and spacecraft into an empty galaxy. It’s the soundtrack though which sets the tone, one which the game then eagerly joins in a chorus of 80’s sci-fi nostalgia.

Thumping, reverberating drums and swelling synth mesh into retro adrenaline, drawing you into a minimalist time vortex while keeping its archaic roots at arm’s length. A lot of games draw from classic 80’s sci-fi movies and themes; Terminator, Aliens, Star Wars. But almost always they do so in ways which are more reminiscent of the decade than part of it, possibly as the most common films drawn from are franchises which have yet to disappear themselves and thus things inspired by them inherently feel less dated. It allows for recognizable settings and characters, but often misses the beauty of something clearly antique but loved for that very reason.

Trace Vector feels like a game ripped from an outmoded computer and remastered with a modern sheen. Sparse geometrical collections of stars and the lines collecting them create a distance between you and the game in such a way as to give you room to fill in the missing details yourself. Every line and dot is precise and plain until your radiant ship draws a path through them, leaving a blaze of shifting color in its wake. Small embellishments create a sense of atmosphere and movement among the stars, and give the sense that Trace Vector is acutely conscious of its style. Its design is minimal because it wants and needs to be, not because it was all the artist could manage.

Limiting you to selecting whether to travel up or down on a branching path gives Trace Vector an omnipresent sense of urgency. There’s little room for error or a capacity to slow down, requiring you think several steps ahead and careful observe the map less you send yourself down a dead end and waste what little fuel you have. The contrasting priorities between collecting fuel cells, often taking you into the most dangerous areas of levels, and getting through as quickly as possible provides a constantly evolving feeling of engagement. I was constantly having to weigh the odds between picking up extra fuel and playing it safe and having to decide in a split second or miss the opportunity.

Trace Vector isn’t an easy game, but it’s not so hard as to become overly frustrating. The intensity with which you direct your ship has a habit of making the game feel more impossible than it actually is, heightening my senses to the point they began to overwhelm my ability to plan effectively. Trace Vector counters this with moments of calm, inserting levels where it’s impossible or extremely difficult to lose between those that require a higher level of reflex.

Positioned in the midst of all this is the unassuming narrative developing between your ship’s pilot and the AI controlling it. In keeping with the game’s design, it’s minimal but focused, asking questions of the value of artificial life and its right to free will. In another context this could have unravelled into overly philosophical monologues far beyond the game’s scope, but Trace Vector never extends itself further than the task at hand. It’s story is entirely between two characters, but without excluding the audience drawing more from it.

I didn’t expect much, maybe not anything from Trace Vector. It seemed rudimentary and unrefined, but within itself there’s a world of nuance that’s difficult to grasp from screen shots. The more I let it take control the more I grew to love its unified design and simplicity. It’s a really special game that is likely going to have trouble bringing in an audience, but once they’re here I can’t imagine them wanting to leave.

You can read more of my writing on Kritiqal.
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