March 28, 2008, Square Haven has ceased updates indefinitely. What you see below is an archived version.

Vagrant Story

  • May 17, 2000
  • February 10, 2000
  • June 21, 2000
A 62 total ratings
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Vagrant Story

A Vagrant Story review Author: Marc Published: February 09, 2002
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Vagrant Story, the highly anticipated title from Squaresoft, has finally landed, and it's looking to take the world of video gaming by storm. With its stylistic graphical presentation, complex battle system, and theatrical storyline, Vagrant Story permeates the mind with its endless profundities and remarkable character development. While being an innovative game, Vagrant Story has all the classic gameplay once deemed lost by the gaming community.
Taking the storyline straight from the gut of an Eighties, one-man-on-a-mission movie, Vagrant Story dilates the suicide assignment of one Ashley Riot -- elite Risk Breaker and all around bad muhtha' -- as he attempts to infiltrate the city of Lea' Monde and diffuse a hostage situation actuated by religious cult Mullenkamp. Encountering Sydney Lostarott -- derranged chief of Mullenkamp -- Ashley quickly becomes entangled in an intricate tapestry of mystery and deceit. The enigmatic Sydney Lostarott; the mystical underbelly of Lea' Monde; the repressed memories of the death of Ashley's beloved and his son; and the supposed treachery of the VKP -- the Valendia Knighs of Peace, the organization Ashley works for... where does it all connect?
Navigating the convoluted storyline is a pleasure in itself, but far be it from Squaresoft to leave gamers without a complex and original gameplay system to boot. It all starts with the evolutionary weaponry system. From the onset and throughout, Ashley will obtain several weapons. In order to succeed, he must level up each weapon so that it panders its attack power to a specific monster species. Not doing so will result in extremely difficult battles with nigh-powerless weapons. It is crucial that the proper measures are taken to insure every weapon is used for its assigned species of monster. Regrets will follow if not done so.
Every appendage of an opponents body can be attacked: be it the legs, arms, or head, it's all fair game. Attacking certain parts attributes to how Ashley will develop. Attacking the head will increase his chances of obtaining an extra magic spell, while attacking the torso or arms may give way to an extra combo move. Ashley's repertoire of magic and combos depends on which piece of anatomy he intends to concentrate.
The RISK point system is a welcome innovation. It entails combo maneuvers designed to keep the player on his or her toes and not depreciate the game to just "hitting the attack button." Combos can theoretically be chained indefinitely if your timing is skilled enough. While chaining together moves, Ashley will cumulate RISK points which, in turn, have their own effects on hit probability, damage output, and potential curative magic effects. They also help control the player's bloodlust; if not for RISK, a player could take advantage of the free-fighting gameplay without penalty.
Aural delights coming from Squaresoft should be of no surprise to any video game veteran. Vagrant Story delivers ambient tunes to accommodate every scenario, each fitting the setting perfectly. The sound effects are spot on; the clashing of swords, flesh-wounding impacts, and grunts of felled enemies are very realistic. All characters are the silent type, only speaking through dialogue bubbles. While some may complain, the silent RPG is an invited "change" from all the commonplace voice acting of today's RPGs.
The game excels graphically and is only paralleled by Metal Gear Solid. It's clean and detailed textures set off the creatively structured world nicely, although up close they become almost undefinably pixelated. The detail on Ashley, Sydney, and other characters and enemies are spectactular as well. The polygonal characters imitate their artwork counterparts almost flawlessly. Akihiko Yoshida should be commended or rewarded (or both) for his stunning artistic style.
With only around 80% of the game complete the first time around, replay value shouldn't be a worry to gamers concerned about wasting their hard-earned bucks. Ashley retains all of his powered-up equipment from the end of the game and is allowed to continue the quest from the beginning, ala Chrono Trigger. With extra keys in hand, he can venture into the unreachable parts of the previous mission and see what was awaiting him -- surely an incentive to play the game more than once.
Vagrant Story certainly holds its own with Squaresoft's bigger titles. The emergence of this excellent game is certain to pique more than a few interests, but will people be smart enough to net this tour de force before its existence is long gone, save for on Ebay? I doubt anyone will pass up a chance like this... although, premonitions like that have been known to be wrong.
Editor's Grade
dotted line "Graphical prowess, genuine gameplay, and replay value to boot, Vagrant Story is an all around fantastic gaming package."
A dotted line Average Reader Score (Based on 62 ratings) | Rate it Now
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Vapid Buttmunch
Member since June 16, 2004
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