Vambrace: Cold Soul
This city of Icenaire has been cursed by the King of Shades; the city is surrounded by the Frost Fall. Nobody inside or out can pass through the frost fall. Anyone who tries is instantly frozen on the spot becoming a statue of ice. Inside the city the residents return from the dead, over time they become mad Wraiths. Surviving in Icenaire is extremely hard, so survivors have taken refuge deep in the bowels of the earth, a place they call Dalearch. From here they hide and campaign against the King of Shades as he amasses an army of undead. Then one day a mysterious stranger is found within the city of Icenaire, wearing an ancient and enchanted Vambrace. This is where your adventure begins...
The game starts with three characters, Private Wedge, Private Biggs and Sarge, standing around in the frozen city of Icenaire. Everywhere is covered in ice and frozen solid, statues of frozen people are scattered everywhere you go in this frigid land. This is where the tutorial starts (if you’ve chosen to play it), there’s some chat between Wedge and Biggs, talking about leaving the normal path that they patrol; as they need supplies it’s something they must do. Sarge however tells you to shut your pie holes and search for anything of use, and to keep an eye out as anything can be lurking in the shadows. Sarge tells you to check out the Tutorial Graphics above and to move out.
At the end of the tutorial, Sarge says they have the spoils they came for and that it’s colder than a witch's tit out here. You’re ready to return to Dalearch when you suddenly see the body of a girl lying on the ground; she’s not from Dalearch, you don’t recognise her and there’s no other scavenging parties up on the surface of Icenaire today. You go to search the body thinking that there’s nothing you can do, as she’s dead, however she’s still breathing and only unconscious. After a little debating on whether to bring her back with you to Dalearch, you decide that it’ll be up to Captain Lanvil to decide her fate once she awakens.
After it’s decided to take the girl with you back to Dalearch a little intro story will commence, giving you some information of the unconscious girl and how she came to be where she was found. The girl is the game’s main character. Lyric, her father, has passed recently, leaving you an encrypted journal and an ancient relic, the Vambrace. Looking for answers you head towards the cursed city of Icenaire.
You can move your character left or right on the screen, and on the left bottom corner you’ll find the Command Box. You can interact with your current environment, like in battle, your inventory or change formation within your group. On the opposite bottom corner there’s your Inventory, Bio, Codex and Map options.
Clicking the Inventory will display any items you’re currently carrying. Items can be sold to merchants, removed, crafted or can be placed in chests here and there for later use. However, this is not the case with all items; some, like quest items, will remain with you. In the inventory, items will be stored according to the type of item it is. There are four item types: Potions, Relics, General and Key items. Relic items can be used to improve or upgrade your stats and skills, some of them can also be equipped. In the top right corner, you’ll find the amount of Hellion you have (Hellion is the currency within this realm). Also here is the current weight and max weight of items you’re carrying, the total number of items you can carry will depend on your current team.
In Bio, you’ll find your current team members, moving left and right will allow you to toggle between each member for information on each of their stats, skills, status effects and any equipped relics. Each character has seven icons detailing their Health, Vigor, Combat, Sleight, Merchantry, Awareness and Overwatch. The higher stat you or your team have on these, the better. It’s also good to have a mixture of them; it’s no good just having all members who can fight, you’ll need those who can spot traps (Awareness) or can care for the party while camping (Overwatch).
As well as your Combat Skills, each character has their own default Normal Skills they can use in combat. They can also use their Flourish Skill once it’s been charged with Flourish Points that you collect as you engage in combat. You may also check any relic equipped and their value and benefits they may bring. While here, you can use the Command Box to change formation, add relics or dismiss a party member. Selecting the map will show you your current location, destination and any field encounters.
As you progress through each of the screens you come across various Interaction Icons allowing you to interact with your surroundings, such as doors, locked chests, talking to other characters or where you can camp. Sometimes though you cannot interact with them, and these will be displayed with a red cross through them. Interacting with something is easy and just requires you to hold a button down for a few seconds until it the icon fills, at which point it will open.
Each of your Character’s HUD are in the centre bottom of your screen. Here your health is displayed in red; if it reaches zero that’s your lot! Most damage will be incurred while in combat, but you can also lose health by activating traps etc. Your vigor is indicated in yellow and just like your health if it reaches zero then you’ll die. Damage to vigor usually happens through the stress of exploration. Finally, on your Character HUD there’s your Flourish Skill, this will increase both as you perform action bonuses and during combat. Once the Flourish Skill bar is filled, you’ll then be able to select it from the Command Box while in combat.
In combat your team will be displayed, along with the hostile enemies at the top of the screen; your team on the left and enemies on the right. Both your team and the enemy have four slots each, with each slot rising in value from the centre. When in combat, the Character HUD on the bottom of the screen is replaced with the Character HUD Slot Icons displayed. This shows the order in which your characters order will fight. Each of your character’s HUDs will have a slot icon to let you know who’s who on the display bar at the bottom of the screen.
The character with the highest Awareness will gain an advantage in initiative, if two characters have the same Awareness points the one furthest forward will gain the initiative. Once a character’s icon reaches the furthest right icon it will then be that character’s turn. When it’s a character’s turn you’ll have four options to choose from: Normal Skills, Guard, Pass or Flourish (if you have accumulated enough flourish points).
While in combat you’re unable to use any items or change any relics you may have; you can check your map and bios though, which may help in planning your next move. You can also change the formation of your team while in combat and if things are getting bad or you just don’t fancy your chances you can also Run Away.
All character skills have different range types; Short-Ranged, Mid-Ranged and Long-Ranged. Short-ranged skills can only be used while positioned in either the first or second slots and will only attack targets in the enemy’s first and second slots. Mid-ranged attacks can be used in any of the character slots, but they will only attack the same enemy slots as short-ranged attacks. Long-ranged attacks can be used in any of the character slots, although unlike mid-range attacks they can be used to attack all four slots of the enemy.
To attack, just select a character’s skill you want to use, you’ll then be able to select any enemy within range. After being victorious in combat, there’s a chance of items being dropped; you can either select the items you want to take with you or take everything. Just remember that there is a weight limit in what you and your team and carry, and that losing a teammate will reduce the limit you can carry.
The game is divided into Chapters, the first being The Adventuress. This is where Lyric will awaken, and you’ll be questioned about who and why you are here. After speaking with Captain Lanvil, you’ll be given some hellion and be allowed to roam around Dalearch and interact with other characters, buy items and food (although you are still under suspicion as they don’t believe your story about how you came through the frost fall).
As you interact with characters you may be asked to find relics, items or complete tasks. Although there may be more than one character after the same items. Who you give the items to is down to you, you’ll have to figure out which one will benefit you in the long run?
Leaving a building will take you to an overhead map view of where you are, where you can move around the map and enter other buildings. In Dalearch there are several different races, each with their own place. If you have the right paperwork, then you’ll be able to move around Dalearch freely. Scattered around here and there you’ll find some pages of your codex; upon finding a page you’ll be able to read its contents, which will give you information on any letters found, types of races, myths, events, places, factions, gods and sundries.
In Dalearch you have your own abode, which is in the tavern, Lost Lady Inn; it’s a bit of a dump and needs cleaning but it beats sleeping rough or back up on the surface. Here you can rest to replenish health and vigor by going to sleep, or you can store any items you may can collected. You can also change costumes if you happen to have any by selecting the wardrobe next to your bed, where any costumes you have are stored.
Some of the items you collect can be crafted into various consumables, like Herbal Patches, Dwarven Brews or Med Pouches once you gain the knowledge to craft them. You can also craft relics, a Trickster’s Belt, Edeni Perfume or Divining Rods. Both consumables and relics may give you a bonus to your stats; for example, the relic Trickster’s Belt will increase your Sleight +1, Max Health +7 but it will lower your Merchantry by –1.
Before heading off on a mission, you’ll need to recruit members to your team; you can have three recruits to take with you. Recruits can be found at the Hunters’ Camp recruiting wall; the recruits can be a mix of races and specialties. You’ll have to choose wisely; a mix of stats within your team are needed to survive in this hostile place.
When you’re ready to depart on your mission you need to head over to the Ascending Room, where you’ll be able to choose your current mission. The ascending room is the only way in to Dalearch and it randomly changes its routes to and from Dalearch. This is to keep Dalearch safe and keep out unwanted guests who seek to find Dalearch and its inhabitants.
There’s not a lot in way of options: Graphics (Windowed Mode On/Off), Audio (Music and Sound Sliders) and a choice of several Languages. You can use either keyboard and mouse or gamepad to play the game; I found playing the game with my Xbox360 pad worked better and with no problems. The game is setup straight out of the box for using a gamepad, as everything the in-game icons match up to the gamepad. You can also unlock Achievements, which will unlock wallpapers etc, and these can be view from the Achievements on the main menu screen. The game has three save slots and will save automatically for you as you move about.
I’ve really enjoyed playing this game so far, I just love everything about it! The graphics are amazing, each of the scenes have depth and an atmosphere to them. The sounds and music are great, the story is well written, the combat is very easy to use. The characters are great and I love how some of them interact and their attitudes. Overall, a fantastic game that gets a big thumbs up from me!
Review written by Piston Smashed™ for Zeepond.com!
Positives+ Fantastic Graphics
+ Nice Story
+ Good Music and Sounds
+ In-game and Steam Achievements
Negatives- No Cards Currently
Using the Vambrace your father left you, enter a city where no-one has entered or left (not even the dead) since it was cursed by the King of Shades, and help free the people of the kings' curse.
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Zeepond Rating: 9/10
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