Vambrace: Cold Soul - Análisis
Devespresso Games, a South Korean indie studio, presents Vambrace: Cold Soul, a title that shares a lot with DD, but with a much more exaggerated level of difficulty. It is a roguelike, dungeon crawler with a much more exaggerated touch of RPG, all in 2D. Headup is the distributor that is responsible for reaching all consoles, PS4, Xbox One and Switch later this year, but first lands on PC, through Steam , which is where we had the opportunity to play it, to bring it Warm on launch day.
An interactive manga
Vambrace: Cold Soul is a title that stands out for its graphic art, being also the most striking of the proposal. Its 2D aesthetic is classic in its genre, but Devespresso gives it an Asian touch by adding an anime-like design and comic details. Everything is very careful and it shows, including its very different scenarios, but always worked. It also has many enemies, not so different in type, but graphically. They are very detailed and as the game progresses the complexity of its design increases in line with its level of difficulty. Aesthetically there are many elements that stand out, one in which we are most emphasized are the costumes that our protagonist can unlock through secondary and main missions. There is a great variety of them, all very careful and that also hide references to certain characters of popular culture. These suits do not give more benefit than feeling "fashion" while we receive sticks in the dungeons.
Another point in favor of Vambrace is the story . It presents us with a more linear and classic narrative development than other titles, with a main character and a story to follow. We control Evelia Lyric, an adventurer who travels the world trying to decipher her father's legacy. An increasingly mysterious legacy that, as we go, will become more convoluted. The trip takes us to Icerine, a region that after a revolt ended up enclosed by a wall of magical ice that kills anyone who touches it . We managed to transfer it thanks to an ancient artifact part of our father's legacy. From this moment we will learn more about the revolt, the history of the world, the different factions and the Brotherhood Green Flame, those responsible for the ice wall. It is a story that takes place in seven quite long chapters , it is interesting and, in theory, it does not get heavy and ends up quite open in the face of possible sequels. We say that in theory it is not heavy because it is a story full of details, and ends up being something predictable in some parts but not so much that interest is lost. Still the gameplay at the beginning, for the most part, makes the game so difficult that the thread is lost and you just want to move forward without paying attention.
The factions are very important and are the ones that will give you the side missions. History will revolve around them, offering you biased visions of history that you will have to fill in as you go. They are formed by different races, the usual ones that usually exist in fantastic stories , dwarves, elves, dark elves, humans and different species of enemies. From what is told, the region in which the story is reproduced is a minimal part of the world of Vambrace, a little Elder Scrolls, and in each region there is a racial predominance. Cold Soul is developed in the dwarf area and is very well detailed in that sense, although it does not differ aesthetically from other fictions. The revolt that we talked about before has its importance in history, beyond the main thing, since with the eruption of the Green Flame the tensions between the factions did not end, they were simply minimized while they managed to survive locked up.
Therefore, at certain times we will explain the prejudices and reservations that each faction has with the rest and we will make decisions based on what we believe is right. We will not always be right , a bit like The Witcher. Our decisions may turn against us in some way, but they will all bring us closer to the end and help us make allies. They will also open paths in the form of side missions with which to get the different outfits, and perhaps some relic. They are not very complex stories, or problems with convoluted solutions, but they help to understand the features and discover more about the environment. Nor are there large complicated characters but consistent with themselves, and with more than one secret.
A format that makes water
The time has come to talk about the most questionable part that the proposal of the Koreans of Devespresso Games may have. And we say questionable because as Vambrace shares so much with games like Darkest Dungeon, it is inevitable that they end up being compared. DD has a strategic complexity that means that if we plan in a hurry or make mistakes, we suffer much more than we should. In Cold Soul, however, you don't have so much control over the actions, it's all simpler . You cannot customize so many options, classes only have two skills and can carry an object. If you add to this that the interface is much more messy and does not give you much of the data that you have in other games, it makes it much more difficult to plan a strategy and leaves things to chance completely. As a result, we have an extra difficulty that adds to a rather notable imbalance between classes. For example of ten classes there is only one curator, and it is not that it is too good either. In the end the compositions end up being of damage and the wear and tear of the long missions, in which we can only heal ourselves through random fires that appear on the map, make us suffer in untold ways. A frustration that goes beyond thread and does not leave us with a feeling of satisfaction for having achieved it, but rather of 'it is finally over is agony'.
This is partly because our protagonist does not have good start statistics and we only get points advancing through the chapters. So in the first chapters we will suffer a lot , while in the finals everything will be more balanced, if we increase the damage. This makes Vambrace not balanced in general, but at least it makes us enjoy the game more in the end, which is also where the juice of the plot is uncovered. Statistics are very important, but also too many for the characters that can be carried. Each one serves something different and all are useful in some aspect of survival. The most important are life, vigor and combat, these three are those used in combat, preferably. With health and vigor if they reach 0 the character dies hopelessly, except our protagonist, and combat is the flat damage we do. The vigor goes down as we go through the dungeons, each room usually goes down one and there are many, it is the greatest danger we face. Followed by the second greatest danger, one against which we cannot fight, a ghost meter that rises over time and only restarts when the phase changes in the mission. If it reaches the red line we will have to face hordes of ghosts that will wear us out too much and remove any other interaction in the rooms, causing no fires to heal.
As we have said Vambrace does not let us touch up anything, except in our character. We have 10 classes among which we can choose three mercenaries , who will join us in our adventure or replace the brave (naive) who accompanied us previously. The advance in the NPCs is based on obtaining relics, which are lost if they die and are difficult to obtain. For our protagonist we need some special codex pages that we obtain in the main missions and for the relics, apart from the normal ones, we have some very special secondary missions hidden. This creates a very large stagnation at the beginning of the game and makes our cold expeditions not much use. We enter a vicious circle in which all the money we earn is spent on the same supplies that we have consumed , and on some object that we lose or do not do much because they do not give us useful statistics for combat. It shows in game time, it has taken us more than 20 hours to finish it and maybe with some more balance it could have gone down to about 15 hours. The good thing is that it gives replayability to make other decisions or unlock other costumes. Although it may not be such attractive content as to go back through the beginning so tortuous.
Technically Vambrace has no problems of any kind, the performance is good. Where the setbacks arise is in more difficult aspects to care for small studies, such as translation or certain errors in some intermediate scenes in which different resolutions appear or are named from the decisions that have been made. It is fully translated into Spanish , although in many explanatory parts or in large texts, it feels like a translation made in Google. This and understandable scenes, make us lose a little in the details, yet the main argument is well understood and makes us have the bug of wanting a little more. The interface is messy , simple in form, but complex when looking for details such as seeing the map, statistics or changing the formation. Changing the training is important because different statistics mean that even to open a chest we need a specific one, and the first one is used, so you have to change constantly. Fortunately, most of the actions that make use of statistics are done automatically with the highest of the group, because otherwise it would be a real nuisance.