Product Type: Square Playstation games
Newest Review: ... menu and the video sequences are well worth a watch before playing. The graphics and style of the game are quite unique and the setti... more
A great RPG!
Vagrant Story (PS)
Member Name: tirial
Vagrant Story (PS)
Advantages: A decent RPG with some unusual gameplay
Disadvantages: Dated, complex plot may be hard to follow
You are Ashley Riot, a troubleshooter for the crown who has been assigned to investigate a possible attempt to topple the kingdom. A mysterious cult is suspected of trying to act against the crown, but when Ashley arrives he finds a conspiracy he could never have imagined - which he himself is caught up in.
The plot of the game is detail, twisted and convoluted. Even at the end of the game I wasn't sure why half the events going on were happening or what role the characters played. However, it is enough fun to play that I honestly did not care.
Graphics-wise the game is done in a 3D semi-realistic style. Sadly the game's graphics have not dated well, and the game displays sawtooth edges and occasional anti-aliasing problems. The cut sequences appear to be animated by the game engine, not done as FMV, and have the same issues, which is a disappointment because given the game's epic nature more detailed cut scenes could have added significant impact. The soundtrack is not bad, though like many early RPGs the game has no voices.
Combat is interesting. A mix of realtime and turn-based, your weapon determines how quickly you act and how far you can reach. When you attack a wire-frame globe around the character highlights which enemies are in range and you choose which one of them you will attack. It is easy to get mobbed by small fast enemies, so using terrain e.g. blocks, tables and ledges, is essential.
Each area is effectively a dungeon with enemies and a few puzzles, even towns and the mansion, which you need to resolve. Hiding from enemies is possible if they have not seen you and occasionally the enemies' AI is ridiculously poor. For example, a series of enemies in an area were killed by running one at a time up to the base of the ledge on which Ashley was standing and being stabbed. After the sixth, it became somewhat predictable.
A very nice touch is the weapon development system, which is innovative and brilliant. There are workshops in various locations in the dungeons and towns which can work various materials. At such a workshop, Ashley can improve weapons of that type (e.g. wood, iron or steel) or merge them to make new weapons. At times the results can be odd, for example when two wooden weapons made an iron sword, but it is worth collecting as many weapons as you can to upgrade.
The game is linear and plays rather like Diablo with more cut sequences. Plot comes out through the cut sequences rather than play which is slightly disappointing. There is also little free choice of movement - as Ashley is following orders, areas must be done is strict rotation.
There is a memorable problem on one area where, if you are on a second playthrough, the game unlocks the exit. If you are on your first playthrough however it stays locked, you need to retrace your steps, and it is possible to get stuck in there. Fortunately, we had saved before becoming trapped, but it took us three re-loads to find a way through.
The end boss is extremely hard to beat, especially the first time you play when the best workshop and weapons are not available. However most of the other enemies are fairly easy.
One thing this lacks is replay value: there is no game-plus and only a few extras unlocked on a second play. On the other hand, you might want to replay it to see if you can figure out the plot and what each of the main groups is actually doing at each stage.
In all, this is worth a look. It is not suitable for players who don't like old style block puzzles and constant fighting, and may be too tricky in parts for younger players, but overall it is a fun fantasy RPG from Square, with a good story and innovative combat and weapons creation systems.
For me the unique aspects of the game more than make up for its failures, so I'm giving it five stars, but people who are less fond of RPGs may disagree.
(An update of my CIAO review)
Summary: Worth a look by any RPG fan