STAFF REVIEW of Vambrace: Cold Soul (Xbox One)

Tuesday, October 8, 2019.
by Kirsten Naughton

Vambrace: Cold Soul Box art Devespresso Games has outdone themselves, and I mean that wholeheartedly. The amount of work that went into Vambrace: Cold Soul is without a shadow of a doubt amazing. Never have I ever had a video game experience quite like this. As with everything, our experiences come with negatives and positives, but, I have to say I'm impressed overall. I have to be honest though, as I became a little bit overwhelmed with what Vambrace: Cold Soul has to offer.

You play as Evelia Lyric, a girl seeking to enter Icenaire. Her father who has passed away left her an ancient relic and journal that gives her Vambrace; a powerful magic. It's Evelia's job now to find a way into Icenaire, though not without help. During your time at the camp, you meet so many people, including the head of the camp, Celest. You choose your team and proceed with the main narrative. Gameplay was pleasant overall and I was able to get rather far into Vambrace: Cold Soul.

Your team while travelling in between quests and destinations will be the difference between life or death. Each of your teammates have four major skills that will help, or hinder, you on your journey to Icenaire. Sleight allows you to scavenge well. Merchantry is the ability to negotiate with merchants. Awareness is the ability to detect anything that will put you in immediate danger such as traps, and Overwatch is the ability to care for your team while camping. The higher these four skills are, the more likely that the skill will be useful. For example, if you have a teammate with high sleight, the higher the chances that you'll get good loot. If your teammate has low sleight, chances are you'll get a mock chest and wind up with a trap, or they will struggle with unlocking the chest.

Vambrace: Cold Soul is unlike any other game I've played with combat. It is a tad complex for my liking, but, I have to give credit where credit is due. The developers really took a lot of care and attention to creating the combat system. I'll try to be as simple as possible, but I'm not joking about its complexity. At the start of a fight, you and your team will be on the left side of the screen, and the enemies on the right. You will have two main skills, default skills and flourish skills. Default skills come with your character, while flourish skills are much stronger. These are powered up by flourish points.

There are three kinds of skills in default combat. Short ranged skills are only available while positioned in the 1st or 2nd slot and can only target enemies in those slots. Mid ranged skills can be used in any position but can only target 1st or 2nd slots. Finally, Long ranged skills can be used in any position and can target any enemy. You continually hit your chosen enemy and the fight is done when your or the enemy team dies. Combat in the beginning was rather easy, though around the three hour mark, things got a little more difficult and really made me work for a win in a fight. The types of enemies you'll run into commonly are going to be Spooks, which are green ghost looking dudes and are fairly easy to defeat.

Vambrace: Cold Soul is GORGEOUS. Without a hesitation, this is easily the most impressive part of the game. I love beautiful graphics, and there's something about indie games that makes me really appreciate the people that made this beautiful work of art. Whether you like the game or not, it's hard to deny that heart and soul that went into creating Vambrace: Cold Soul. I grasp the concept Devespresso Games was presenting me, but that didn't come without a slight curve ball that I don't foresee myself getting past.

As I've gushed about above, I love the dedication and hard work Devespresso Games put into Vambrace: Cold Soul. However, I feel that I can't finish this review without talking about the one single thing that really truly bothers me about it; the character dialogue and the way they chose to lay everything out for the player. From the very beginning, you are given an extreme amount of information, starting from the tutorial, to the cut scene with Evelia talking about her father and the numerous tutorial graphics that you can't bypass. Within my first hour of gameplay, I was feeling very overwhelmed and forgot most of what I was told in the early minutes. That to me is troubling.

I am the type of gamer that needs to get ingrained in the story and characters I'm playing. I didn't feel connected with the story nor the characters. Character dialogue while in game is non-existent other than sudden noises from the characters or grunts. I wasn't a huge fan of reading the entire first hour of gameplay only to find out the cut-scenes were all voiced. I have criticized games in the past for a lack of tutorial and character dialogue, but this is a case where there is just too much. I feel like if the dialogue was dialed back a little, even if the characters actually spoke, it wouldn't be so overwhelming for me. But that's just my personal preference.

I'm not the type of gamer that likes to sit in front of my TV and read constantly while playing a video game. I'm also not a gamer that works very well with complex combat mechanics, even though I enjoyed Vambrace: Cold Soul's thoroughly. Although I was not a fan of the dialogue, I still enjoyed it. I freelance write in my spare time and I know how much heart it takes to write something with this much depth.

Vambrace: Cold Soul has amazing qualities about it, particularly the graphics, UI and combat. If someone were to ask me a week from now, I'd still recommend Vambrace: Cold Soul. The amount of detail is fascinating to me. I'm gonna get out of here before a Spook gets to me. See ya!

Overall: 7.0 / 10
Gameplay: 6.0 / 10
Visuals: 9.0 / 10
Sound: 7.0 / 10


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