Vambrace: Cold Soul is a roguelike survival experience through a frozen land, now on PS4. Learn more about this adventure in our Vambrace: Cold Soul review!
This is a double review for Vambrace: Cold Soul. Ajescent and ThaRaven403 played the game, and this review presents what they both had to say.
Exploring the frozen land is done in a 2D side-scrolling manner, where all party members (up to four) are taken into dangerous areas by the character you choose as the leader. Selecting your leader will be important depending on the situation, as each character has different attributes that can affect what happens next. Some areas are packed with traps, so choosing a leader with the highest Awareness attribute will help in finding traps and hopefully not being damaged by them.
Each dungeon you explore has several rooms to go through, with some containing chests you can loot, areas where you can make a camp, and some occasional will have enemies for you to fight. When you start, the Geistometer will slowly rise as you hear ghosts in the different rooms and stay there for too long, and it won’t reset until you reach the end of the dungeon. If you can’t reach the end before the meter reaches its limit, you’ll be back to square one in the city, and you’ll have to plan a new expedition.
As for the combat, when you encounter enemies, you’ll enter a turn-based battle. Turn order is shown at the bottom of the screen so it can help in planning who you’ll attack as you go. Each character can either make short, mid, or long-range attacks. Short-range characters will have to be positioned in the first two spots and will only be able to target enemies on the first two spots. Mid-range will be able to target the same ones, but from any position, and the long-range characters will be able to target anyone from anywhere on the group.
When you’re out there exploring, the close-up view of your team walking in those spooky places is simply gorgeous. There is something about the art style that really puts you in the game’s atmosphere, sending the experience to a whole new level.
As I started playing the game, I quickly got into the story that has a lot of mysteries about it. There are also lots of factions you discover as you play that help making it interesting, not just something you want to skip the dialogues and get it over with. On the other hand, the dungeon aspect didn’t give me the same “wow effect” as the story. Preparation is really important, as you want to make sure you have all the fighters with the necessary skills to go on your exploration. But the way you do it in the menus is actually not that easy. Some of the menus are mapped to the D-Pad (instead of a more traditional Options menu), and it quickly gets confusing to know what you want to do.
If you have ever played Darkest Dungeon, then you will be very familiar with what Vambrace: Cold Soul from Devespresso Games will present to you. This is not a criticism. It’s just a succinct way to describe what to expect when playing this tactical RPG. Unlike Darkest Dungeon, however, this game feels not as tight as it could be.
Combat is engaging but not mind-blowing. Being able to see the order in which combatants will take their turn allows for some extra strategy, as you try to figure out how you can disrupt your opponents’ turns before they get a chance to act. I find it strange that you are mostly unable to heal during battle or outside battles, and that the only time you can heal is while at campfires. While the campfires are reasonably spread out, it still surprises me that this is not possible outside of a few self-heal skills that some characters will have.
For me, the visuals are where the game excels, the art style, and the aesthetics are worthy of praise. The combat visuals evoke memories of Darkest Dungeon, but everywhere else, the game has enough style to call it its own. For reasons unknown, I love the overworld map on which little chibi Lyric (your main protagonist) moves from point to point. I also adore the character designs, as you can see the effort that went into the individual characters, and for a “small game,” the work really is superb.
Sadly, however, it is let down by map design. It is all too easy to make a mistake, turn around, and end up in a previously explored area or an area that looks almost exactly like the room you were actually trying to get to. This is made worse by the fact that your vigor is always decreasing, and the moment it hits zero for a character, they’re done. It also doesn’t help that the encounter rate seems to increase the further you progress into an area.
Sound design is also a strong point, as the game’s frozen world is brought fort by some excellent atmospheric sound effect that truly makes the world feel whole.
Vambrace: Cold Soul has a solid story and an incredible art style that make this one a game you have to try. Combat and exploration are not its strong points, but as long as you can get through the game’s menu, you will get to experience an interesting tale.
This ambrace: Cold Soul review is based on PlayStation 4 copies provided by Headup Games.