Sydney
Ashley
la plaie cÚleste
Guildenstern
   
     
Review of the game Vagrant Story logo
 
 
   The story takes place in Europe some time after the Catholic Inquisition. Sydney Losstarot, infamous leader of the Mullenkamp cult, has invaded the Duke of Barbora's manor and taken his people hostages. He demands the liberation of his followers, but somehow, the government suspects his real motivation to be different. Meanwhile, without any legal authorisation, the bishop's own troops, the "Crimson Blades", under the order of Guildenstern, have attacked the manor and started to eliminate the cult activists.
   The player enters the game as Ashley Riot, a "Riskbreaker", a special highly skilled soldier, sent in by the government to solve this situation. However, Sydney eludes him and runs away to the ancient city of Lea Mundis, taking Joshua, the Duke's child hostage. Another Riskbreaker, Rosencranzt, entered the city a few years ago, never to be heard of again. In the ruins of this city of darkness lies a great power, coveted by many fallen souls who gather there for a final confrontation. Ashley must find out the real intentions of all those involved and save the child...
 
 
   Brilliant design, great characters' personality, amazingly talented work of camera in the cut scenes, a mature, dark, yet idealist tone and a compelling intelligent plot makes this game a unique and fascinating adventure. Main theme is the complex relationship between religions, governments and people, tackled here with much wit and wisdom. The dialogues are finely written and the story filled with suspens and keeps the player rushing impatiently through the hardest dungeons just to see the next "chapter". The visual aspect is reminiscent of comics, as dialogues are shown in bubbles and the layout carefully thought out.
 
 
   Granted, this is a difficult game, which can get frustrating at times for the non-initiated. Temptation to give it up has been unfortunately too big for many and resulted in the non-success and under-rating of this brilliant work. For it is truly a special and unique game, but as I have listed its strong points, it is only fair not to hide its less good points. There are numerous fights and at first, these are all very fastidious and some of them may seem plain impossible. Moments like the forest, where the map doesn't work, so you turn around for ages before being killed on sight by a dragon, get very annoying. At the beginning, the player is stuck in a dungeon, and it looks like the whole game is going to be that way (go in next room, kill monsters etc), but it is not so. There is much exploration, much strategy required in battles, you gain many techniques, some magic spells, and the maps are very useful and clear, plus there are some nice riddles and thinking involved too, so do not be disheartened!
 
 
   The superb design, lighting, mood and story make it all worthwhile. And above all, the creators had a great idea. When you finish the game, all that you have gained, your skills, magic, weapons, strength and so on remain when you start it over again! This mean you can fly through those previously impossible fights like lightning and revel in those gorgeous cut scenes! So not an effort is wasted. The first play is hard, but it only has to be done once, then from the second play, it is much easier, and by then, all the complex techniques of fighting will seem quite simple. So if you really cannot manage to get to grip with the difficulty, all you need to do is find someone with a save of a finished game, and start with their save. I put in the help section a simple and short list which should make the game easier and more accessible.
 
 
   The best works always require more involvement and efforts at first, but they give much more back in the end, and Vagrant Story is one of them. A little persistence will be rewarded beyond the usual gaming experience by a grasping storyline, compelling characters, fine artworks, as well as many thoughts and mysteries to ponder long afterwards the game ends.
 
 
     
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