With dungeon crawlers gaining in popularity, and games like Darkest Dungeon and Void Bastards being amazing hits. Of course, it comes as no surprise then that developers would try to emulate this success. Thus Devespresso Games brings us their take on the roguelike dungeon crawler genre! Though this is not a new game. Vambrace Cold Soul was previously released on the PC back in May of this year and was reviewed by our very own Michael. Now, a few months later? Us console dwellers are getting the opportunity into experiencing it! Want to find out if it’s still a worthwhile purchase or not? Then read on in my take on the game! This is Vambrace: Cold souls!
What do you do? You play as Evelia Lyric, wielder of the Aetherbrace. You are on a quest to find out more about your father and thus stumble upon a city filled with survivors. It is your task to help these survivors, and in doing so saving the great city of Icenaire, setting it free from the curse set upon it by the King of Shades. In a game that can only be described as The Darkest Dungeon: Winterland edition you’ll be going through countless of randomly generated dungeons, avoiding traps, discovering riches and slaying all kinds of enemies.
- Graphics: I’d be lying if I said that I didn’t fully enjoy the art- and graphical style of Vambrace. With clear inspiration derived from The Darkest Dungeon, the wintery landscapes and rooms really feel as if you would be freezing your nini’s off. Though a somber color pallet is used here, it still looks crisp and easy to look at. The cutscene version of the characters look professionally made and any manga fan will surely come to love these.
- Brutal: Vambrace doesn’t pull its punches. No going easy on you, nothing of the sorts. Everything you do? Needs to be taken seriously as one wrong decision? Could easily mean the difference between “victory” and “game over man, game over”. Anyone who enjoys a tough game will really get his or her comeuppance. Vambrace really does its best to make you think 10 steps ahead instead of 1 or 2. So planning as to how you’ll tackle the map you’re currently playing on is a real recommendation. Especially if it’s your first playthrough. Take time to learn your composition, find out where everyone best stands in your line up. And for pete sake, do NOT rush through the rooms! It gives you the time to think, so use it! You don’t want to know how many times I died just because I was too cocky and believed that I could make it. Oh and escape if you are about to lose your team! You might lose a bit of progress and stuff? But if you really got a composition that works for you? It’s not a shame to run from combat and heal back up!
- Inventory management: The inventorial system could really use a work-over in my opinion. Firstly, the navigation is truly cumbersome. It doesn’t feel smooth or intuitive at all. The button layout for switching between different tabs, for instance, is just atrocious. I just couldn’t get it to feel right to use. Then when you got into one of the tabs that you want to be in, you’ll have to remember that it has multiple pages. You can even browse to completely empty ones. So don’t be like me! When you’re going through the tabs? Remember to stay on a page that has items! I didn’t, and I became encumbered by weight, just because I forgot to swap the pages. They don’t revert back to your first page!
- Constantly in a rush: Don’t think that you’ll be going through the game and explore every room on the map. There are a few elements that will prevent you from doing this! One that I feel is absolutely enjoyment depriving. I am an explorer, and try to get a full map clear in any game that I play! But here you’ve got, for instance? The geistometer. This is a meter that slowly fills the longer you stay on a map. If it gets filled all the way up? You’ll be treated to some difficult enemies, ones that you want to absolutely avoid if you can. This, of course, takes away that you can’t fully explore anything. Secondly, you’ve got a sanity meter. This one goes down every time you enter a room. Went into a wrong room? Tough for you, that’s -1 sanity. And with a god awful map system? This will surely happen more than once!
- Tutorial: The tutorial that you’ll get is, to say it lightly? Underwhelming. It quickly goes over everything in a tl;dr fashion, and after getting it? I still didn’t feel like I learned anything at all. There are just so many things to take account of. One thing that I didn’t see? Was the escape function! Or at least, I think I didn’t see it. It could have been given in the very short and information filled tutorial.
- Combat: Don’t be surprised if you end up falling asleep during the combat sections! These feel slow and underwhelming. Your abilities feel as if you’re throwing hot air at them. The regular style combat doesn’t feel impactful either. You’ve got special abilities that you can use after your specialty bar fills up. So once in a blue moon, you can throw a stronger one out there. But this feels underwhelming as well. Sigh… I just couldn’t seem to enjoy the combat at all, even though in The Darkest Dungeon, for instance? I adored it! So it’s not as if I don’t like this kind of dungeon crawlers. A genre that I hold in high regards by the way!
- Maps suck: I just can’t give it any other words than these. It just sucks. Why couldn’t they just keep the standard style of maps? No, in here you’ve got to account that each and every room you enter is horizontal. Though on the map you’ll see rooms go vertical constantly and that these rooms branch off into multiple rooms! So you’ll have to be accounting for this each time that you’ll be going into a vertical room on your map. That you’ve got look at it horizontally and move on from there. It doesn’t help that sometimes you’ll be entering the room from the opposite end of it as well… Ugh… WHY!! Why couldn’t you just keep the standard style of maps? I hate it when developers go for “innovative new ways” that end up feeling horrible in the end! Bah!
Though it has some amazing artwork and the difficulty is something that can be enjoyed by hardcore gamers, the overall feel of Vambrace is just underwhelming. In a game that I can only call The Darkest Dungeon: Winterland edition, I feel that the effort was put in, but the execution was just poorly done. I can only hope that Devespresso Games learns from this game and steps their A-game up a bit more in their future projects because they surely have some amazing artistic talent in their hands!
Developer: Devespresso Games Publisher: Headup Games
Played on: Xbox One X Also available on: PS4 – Switch and PC
Alexis spent 4 hours dungeon crawling.
Achievement difficulty for 1000 Gamerscore: 15 to 20 hours. It really depends on how good you are.
Perfect for: Dungeon Crawler enthusiats, that have played every other one out there.
Xbox Game Store link: Click here