By Steve Baltimore / August 21st, 2019
|Title||Vambrace: Cold Soul|
|Release Date||May 28th, 2019|
When I first saw Vambrace: Cold Soul I was immediately taken by its art style. It has that classic Dungeons and Dragons look that I grew up with as a kid. This reminded me of Darkest Dungeon since it had turn based combat as well. I’ve still not had a chance to check that one out, so I decided to jump on this. Let’s see if this game is as brutally difficult as that one is said to be.
The story follows the blight in the great city of Icenaire. The King of Shades has turned many of the residents into mad Wraiths. A few survivors have gathered underground in order to fight back against The King of Shades and his unholy blight. All seems lost until a strange girl name Lyric appears carrying a magical brace. Could this young woman be their only hope for survival? Only time will tell.
The team here did a great job creating a huge world with tons of lore. There are a lot of likable characters found throughout the game. You will find yourself wanting to know more about them and the struggles they have faced. I felt the story overall was pretty good, but there is so much lore here it that is almost becomes a bit confusing at times. There is a very nice in-game codex that you find pages to along your journey that really helps out in this regard, but I think maybe they got a little too detailed at times. The game has multiple endings based on the choices you make on your journey, and the writing of the game is very solid.
Graphically Vambrace: Cold Soul looks amazing. All of the art looks hand drawn and this really gives the game a lot of flair. The amount of detail in the enemy models, player portraits and backgrounds is simply stunning. The animations in the game are very simple, but they really fit the aesthetic of a classic Dungeons and Dragon board game. Lyrica has a ton of different outfits you can unlock during the game by completing various tasks. These don’t have any effect on the gameplay, but who doesn’t want to kick ass with D & D Sailor Moon!
The soundtrack in Vambrace: Cold Soul is pretty much what you expect in game like this. The songs sound very much like they would fit into any medieval fantasy tale with ease. Lots of strings and choir fill you ears with drums of war following not far behind. I found myself humming along as I wandered the dungeons trying to survive the sometimes brutal difficultly this game has to offer. There is some voice acting in the game as well. The cast does a good job with this scenes and this adds to the quality of the game.
Now we get to the part of this where Vambrace: Cold Soul begins to have some issues, the gameplay. The first thing you will do before setting out into the dungeon is gather your party. You can recruit up to three additional party members, and each of these member are a different class. These are your typical RPG classes; Fighter, Mage and so forth. These recruits will have different skills, and using these in combat will be key to your survival. Some classes will be better for close quarters combat while others work better for ranged attacks. This means you want to put the more beefy party members in the front and the ranged fighters in the rear. Combat is turn based and not very deep, but having a proper party balance can really tip the scales in your favor during battles. Though be warned, if a party member falls in the dungeon, they are gone forever. That’s right folks, there is permadeath here, so either be very careful or don’t get attached to anyone.
Once you’ve formed your party you need to buy some healing supplies. These supplies are pretty scarce in the dungeons and starting out you won’t be able to purchase much either. The other drawback here is that you can only use these supplies at campsites found in the dungeons. These are randomly generated like the stages themselves, so this becomes luck of the draw if you will run into one in time. To make matters worse your vigor stat will drop one point as you explore each room. When this hits zero that party member will freeze to death and die instantly. This means if you don’t find a campsite in time to use an item to restore it, the only choice will be to flee the dungeon and start over. There are perks you can earn that will raise your overwatch stat. This will allow you to gain back more vigor when resting and this does help out quite a bit.The other meter you have to pay attention to is the geist meter. When this fills up not only will you encounter more enemies, they will be stronger as well.
While it sounds like the cards are completely stacked against you, with a proper party most of the enemies can be dealt with pretty easily. Each party member can also equip a relic for a nice buff and stat boost. Though I will say this game is easier after the patches, it’s still by no means a walk in the park. The RNG will screw you at every turn in the random dungeon with events and traps. There are also a few crazy difficulty spikes as well.
Vambrace: Cold Soul is certainly a not an easy game, but I feel like you are rewarded with a pretty good story for putting in the work. Exploring the dungeons and managing very limited resources is both challenging and fun. The multiple endings do encourage you to play through the game more than once, at around 10 hours a run. this makes it well worth the $24.99 price point. If you’re up to the challenge there is a lot to love here, but if you’re a more causal RPG gamer, you may want to pass on this one.
Game provided by the publisher for review purposes.
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