Review Code Provided
Vambrace Cold Soul is, in my opinion, an artistic marvel. From the way the game looks with its detailed environments to the fantastically drawn characters, this is one game I don’t think anyone could call ugly. You play as Lyric, on a journey to uncover the cryptic mysteries left behind by her renowned father and you solve more than a few problems for others along the way. It’s a gritty turn based affair with permadeath elements.
While the main character is Lyric, you actually control a troupe of four people, Lyric plus three of your choice from those available on the volunteer board. The people you can choose from all have different class types, abilities and skills. You might think that you could just pick the characters with the highest attack and the best skills but if you do that, you’re probably not going to get very far.
There’s a town like hub where you’re free to explore as Lyric and talk to the people around and as you get further you’ll gradually get access to more and more side quests. This hub is split up into different districts and not everything is immediately available to you since some of the characters need to gain your trust in order for you to even be allowed in their buildings. That’s where the expeditions, the main part of the game come in.
The expeditions see you travelling to various districts on the freezing surface and each district has a few areas to explore. You move your way up a kind of map like set up, trying to get to the last location in the district by going through each of the areas. Things get more difficult the further you make it, though thankfully you can retreat back to Dalearch whenever but you will lose your expedition progress every time you do so. When you explore these areas your characters are vulnerable to attacks or traps at any time and the more rooms you go through the higher your spook meter climbs which increases the risk of attack, so exploring all the rooms is only for the brave. Also as you travel from room to room your character’s vigor will drain and if it empties, much like the health bar, it’s game over for that character.
Ideally you’d want to have as varied a team as possible because they all have their own uses, for example; a character with high overwatch will keep your people safe when camping and one with high awareness will lower the risk of your party being affected by traps, so long as you make them the head of the party. Camping is very important in this game because it provides an opportunity for your characters to heal up and regain some vigor, if you try to heal them when you’re not at camp, you’ll get a warning saying something along the lines of it being too unsafe to rummage through your bag. The areas you can camp in are few and far between in most cases, so if you see one you should really take advantage of it.
While you’re out exploring you can find a lot of items, many of which are used in crafting but you’re subject to a weight limit which means you have to choose carefully what you want to take and what you want to leave behind. Or if you’re like me, you could play hoarder and take everything and frequently retreat back to Dalearch, goods in hand. You can continue when over encumbered but I wouldn’t recommend it since every party member gets a bunch of debuffs, which from what I saw either makes your attacks very weak or ineffective altogether, specials still dealt good damage but considering they require charging up over turns, it’s not ideal.
When it comes to battles it’s your standard turn based affair, in Vambrace Cold Soul certain characters have type advantages against certain enemies and some of the enemies are more dangerous than others. You get a timeline at the bottom of the screen which allows you to plan your moves out so if you know that one of the stronger enemies is due to attack, you can focus on them and try to remove them before they get their go. There’s a space system in play as well so if you have a close range character, you would want to put them at the front or risk your attacks not being able to reach their opponents and put the ranged characters at the back since they can usually reach everyone.
Parts of the game almost feel like playing a table top RPG in that every so often you’ll encounter things such as tables full of food or little ghostly kids and you’ll be given a choice or how to react to it and who should do it. Depending on the outcome, you could come away with a bunch of new components or some damage to that character’s vigor or health. I liked these choice bits but the problem I had was that I’d encounter the same ones all the time, meaning I knew what the outcomes would be, though there still is that dice roll because you don’t know which outcome you’ll get until you choose.
I personally really like Vambrace Cold Soul and I wasn’t expecting to since it’s not the sort of game I usually play. I have seen other people saying there’s a difficulty hurdle to overcome but to be honest, I didn’t really have any trouble with it, it did seem like there was a lot to learn at the beginning and it does make it feel a little intimidating but it’s surprisingly easy to grasp. So long as you pay full attention to what the game tells you during the tutorial section you shouldn’t have any problem with it and even if you don’t you can access the tutorial hints at any time in the pause menu. If I wasn’t such a hoarder I’d probably get through at a much quicker rate.
Sure it is a slow and methodical type of game that requires thought when you play, but I say that makes it all the more engaging since it’s not the same mindless grind you might encounter in other turn based games. If you’re a fan of Darkest Dungeon you’ll definitely want to pick this one up but I would urge anyone to give it a go, if only to admire the artistic talent of the developers.
Visit Devespresso Games to learn more about Vambrace Cold Soul or one of their other games.
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