Icenaire is in peril, wraiths and the living dead torment what few survivors are left and doomsday cultists threaten to unleash dark forces upon the world. Only you stand in their way, armed with your trusty Vambrace.

Good

  • Frozen Doom: I find it refreshing every time someone goes for a wasteland setting that is not a barren brown landscape. The frozen wasteland in Vambrace: Cold Soul is incredibly oppressive and the signs of life lost and frozen in time is just amazing for the atmosphere of the game.
  • Our Elves are Different: One thing I really enjoyed about the writing in Vambrace is how nuanced the fantasy races are. At firs they seem to readily fall into known tropes and clichés but the more you interact with them, take on sidequests and learn about the delicate political balance in town, the depictions gain a lot more depth and even the darkest of Drow has a noble soul and something to share.

Bad

  • Bland Class Design: Aside from the protagonist, you can recruit other team members to go up to the surface with you to loot or pursue mission objectives but the classes themselves aren’t all that interesting, with only two abilities to them, a main attack and a charged Flourish. Overall, the classes feel samey, and not even the variable attributes on characters makes them stand out or feel like the right choice for any given situation. Worse still, you never feel like there’s synergy between members of the group.
  • Poor Progression: As you complete chapters in the game, you’ll unlock Perk Points for your vambrace, which raise your statuses, but that’s about it when it comes to progression. Classes don’t have upgrades, there are no additional paths or abilities, so there’s very little incentive in trying to keep a party alive, other than losing any of them meaning you most likely have to cancel your current expedition, return to base, recruit a new team and then start over from scratch. Hell, it’s more than likely you’ll get rid of your early companions as soon as others with higher combat stats pop up.
  • Unnecessarily Punitive:  If you return from an expedition you lose all progress, and I’m fine with that. What I’m not fine is with the gated crafting tables, the fact that companion death means their equipment goes with them, the incredibly high cost of healing supplies, and just how many negative effects enemies and traps can stack on you. The weight limits are also ridiculously low, to the point you’re often considering if you should get rid of healing items or loot. It’s game design that feels like it’s just there to inflate difficulty, not because it adds anything to the experience.
  • Single Save: There’s only the autosave, no manual save option. In a game where the loss of one companion can be completely fatal as you lose precious equipment (and crafting is a gigantic pain in the rear), not being able to set a separate save file before the expedition is a major glaring flaw for me.

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1 Comment »

  1. Great review and I feel the same way. I was hoping that this would be a good alternative to Darkest Dungeon. It’s not. This game is difficult just to be difficult. I can understand dropping my items on death or being forced to start over when I leave an area, but all that other stuff was just too much and I love difficult games.

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