Vambrace: Cold Soul – Xbox One Review
Our Xbox One Review of Vambrace
Vambrace: Cold Soul is an unfortunate case of style over substance, whilst no one can deny that the game is very beautiful, The gameplay found under it is very underwhelming and lacking in any substance.
Developed by South Korean studio Devespresso Games, Vambrace is a Roguelite JRPG , with an influence from traditional tabletop RPGs. Whilst this has garnered it comparisons with Darkest Dungeon and FTL; Vambrace can stand out on its own with its own style of storytelling and visual design.
The player takes on the role of a woman called Lyric, who owns the Aetherbrace with that she is able to enter the cursed city of Icenaire where she must hunt down the King of Shades who has plummeted the city into an infinite frost.
Whilst this is quite a common Story Arch, hero/heroine who has the power that no one else has and everything relies on them. The way the story is told in Vambrace throughout the game is well thought out and is very engaging one of the positives to this game.
Whilst you are on this Journey you can recruit a party to accompany you; each with their own classes. Healer, Range, Tank etc. Where the difficulty comes from, is for one the PERMADEATH of party members and secondly the lack of leveling. These parts of the gameplay is where most of the difficulty lies if you lose your Healer for example halfway through a level you are more than guaranteed a wipe and you lose all your characters. Also you are stuck with the skills of the character with no way to make them stronger.
You do have the option of equipping items along the way which can change certain stats but that is really it and in my opinion is not enough to change the difficulty of the game. So do expect to repeat the same part over and over.
Adding onto that is the vigor meter and Geist ticker the more moves it takes you to complete a level the lower the vigor meter your character gets once that meter hits 0 you character freezes to death. If that was not hard enough already the Geist ticker moves with every step you take and increases your chance of a room being a combat room so you really do have to be efficient and not spend too long exploring as you can lose party members very quickly
The game is set in a city that is split into segments each controlled by a certain faction. Upon entering a section you see the layout of the map which is split into various rooms. Upon entering a room you will find either a random battle, a camp or an item then you proceed on like that till you come to the end and a boss battle ensues. Unfortunately that is the composition of the game. Whilst the story points are interesting, it is very much rinse repeat gameplay and becomes very tedious due to the lack of strategy to the battles. That is one of the major downfalls the lack of depth in Vambrace is very evident, it tries to hide that by having a high difficulty spike but it does become noticeable if you play a long time in one sitting.
The UI is also designed very clumsy and does make the overall gameplay more tedious and time consuming. To attack and check stats you have to manage your way through two-three sub menus to get to the required information. This can make battles take a lot longer than needed even moving party members positioned is not an easy affair and requires more than the necessary required steps to complete.
Now for the Major positives of the game the Graphics and Audio for Vambrace are really stunning and detailed. The set designs have a lot of small details that can be missed on first glances but really do in my opinion add to the world and give it a real life or in this case abandoned life. All the while you get to hear the sound track which add perfectly with the scenes giving an atmosphere to the game and at least giving us something to enjoy whilst we battle the enemies.
Overall Vambrace is for me a swing and a miss kind of game. It has all the features there to be something more. I would definitely like to see a sequel to this game hopefully with the changes the audience had asked for mainly so I get to see more of this world. But for the first installment I would say if your are Jonesing for another game like Darkest Dungeon but just be careful before buying as you could be disappointed.