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Vambrace: Cold Soul

Posted by GG Goblin On September - 5 - 2019

A roguelike fantasy adventure with a touch of familiarity.

There are plenty of reasons for buying a video game. It may be that the game comes recommended, or perhaps is from a favourite developer, or maybe the game is part of a favourite genre. Perhaps one of the main reasons for picking up a new game is because the game looks familiar, maybe similar to a previously played and enjoyed game. This is perhaps the initial appeal of Devespresso’s Vambrace: Cold Soul, a game that looks unmistakeably similar to the hugely popular Darkest Dungeon. The good news is that there are a lot of similarities beyond just the initial burst of screenshots, but Vambrace is still very much its own game as well.


So Vambrace: Cold Soul takes that side-on dungeon crawling gameplay found in Darkest Dungeon, but bulks it all out with a strong narrative. Players will take control of Evelia Lyric, a capable young lady who finds herself in possession of a magical brace that means she is the only one who can save the world. Evelia inherits the Vambrace from her recently deceased father, and discovers it allows her to enter the city of Icenaire, which has been overwhelmed by the King of Shades army of wraiths and cannot even be entered by normal people. The survivors of the city have moved underground and live in constant fear that their fragile lives will soon be snuffed out. It is a pretty miserable existence, something which the player will be able to experience themselves as they explore the settlement and talk to the inhabitants, building up the back story and really giving some meaning to the players quest.

Vambrace has two different viewpoints depending on what the player is doing. When it comes to exploring dungeons, or just wandering the buildings of the main hub area in the game, the game takes on that familiar side-on view with large character models. However, outside of these instances, which make up the majority of the game, players will guide a sprite-sized character around the map, guided along by various icons that it will take a little while for the player to get used to and work out.


The game begins with a short tutorial both introducing the story and the essentials of how to play the game. It does explain most of the basics, but much like the symbols on the overworld map, it will still take some time for the player to work out the unexplained stuff. It’s not too complicated, but that doesn’t mean by any stretch of the imagination that the game is easy.

Upon entering a building from the hub, or indeed setting out into one of the dungeon-like areas, the view moves to side-on, with the player treated to some quite gorgeous visuals. While in the friendly areas, the player will be able to move around and talk to other characters, maybe picking up some quests along the way. They will also be able to explore areas further by moving through doors. In the hub, this is not too much of a problem, but due to the perspective used, it can cause some confusion in the dungeon, where it may be important to reach the exit as quickly as possible. The side view means that doorways cannot always be placed the same as they would be on the map, which can make navigating tricky. Add to this the increasing chance of having to face a difficult battle if the player doesn’t leave in a timely manner, and taking a wrong turn can result in much swearing.


Not that the battles are too much of a chore. The player takes a team of four on their dungeon-diving adventure, recruiting from a decent selection of different character classes, each with their own abilities. This obviously includes Evelia who, as she is kind of essential to the story, is the only character in the group that has a personality. She also can’t really die, being zipped back to the town rather than suffering the permadeath that any other ally that falls in battle can look forward to. Interestingly, due to the lack of personality for the allies, and the fact that they don’t level up over time or anything, losing members of the team is not so devastating as perhaps permadeath would be in other, similar games.

The combat is turn based, and players will line up their team in a side-on view way. The line up dictates which enemies that the characters can attack, as different attacks will have a different range and affect different members of the enemy line up. Each character has a basic attack, along with special attacks that are limited to a meter being filled. The encounters are quite enjoyable, although the difficulty can make everything a little more frustrating than it needs to be. This is as much down to being unable to heal unless camping, which can only be done at set places in the dungeon, as anything else. Still, the player can leave the dungeon at any moment with all of their loot and party members. The downside to this is that they will then have to start that dungeon from the beginning again.


Darkest Dungeon was a very difficult game, and at least Vambrace: Cold Soul eases up a little on the punishment. It does take a while to get into, and certainly has its quirks, but still manages to be quite enjoyable. An interesting story and beautiful visual style couple well with the simple combat and high level of challenge. Vambrace: Cold Soul is certainly worth checking out by fans of the genre.




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