Do you like difficult games? How about Darkest Dungeon? Then lean in close and let me tell you about a game called Vambrace Cold Soul.
I received a review copy of this game from Headup Games
I love the way this game looks. It’s incredibly detailed, the character models are fantastic, and the visual novel styled cutscenes is a great way to tell a story in my opinion. Vambrace Cold Soul is NOT Darkest Dungeon. Yes, the gameplay is similar, but there’s arguably more to do in this game than Darkest Dungeon. They’re both hard as balls though and if you’re the type of person that loves a good challenge then you’ll feel right at home here. This is a very good looking game. It’s colorful when it needs to be and has some great enemy designs too. It’s too bad that there are no graphical options whatsoever for me to mess around with. This game is optimized well. I didn’t experience any bugs or fps drops during my playthrough. I only crashed a single time and I’ll take that as a win.
This game has one of the best soundtracks I’ve heard all year long. It’s soothing and the ambient sounds can add a sense of dread in some areas. I really enjoyed listening to this game and every time I boot it up I let the main menu music play until it’s over. It’s so good. The sound effects, grunts, and other stuff if what you’ll expect in a game like this. The soundtrack is what really sets it apart from other games that I’ve played this year. I’ll remember this soundtrack when I get to writing my game of the year awards.
If you sit back and listen you’ll hear chains rattling when you’re locked up which helps add to the atmosphere amongst other things. I really like when developers go the extra mile and add little things like this to their games because it all adds to the experience.
The story here won’t win any awards or be remembered for changing some overdramatic’s person’s life, but I enjoyed it. I enjoyed reading all of the journal entries and learning about this interesting world that Davespresso Games has come up with. The dialogue is good, what little voice acting is good, and I enjoyed getting to know the NPCs around me. I only wish that my own party was interesting. They’re just random people that you go to a board and hire. The only character I ever cared about was the main protagonist, Lyric.
I don’t have an issue with the way this game plays, but I do have an issue with how slow the combat is compared to Darkest Dungeon and the really poor animations. The combat is tedious when compared to Darkest Dungeon because of how long it takes to win a single battle. That made me dread most encounters because I knew I was in for a pretty long fight. I feel like this game is difficult just to be difficult. The difficulty doesn’t really add anything to this game. It’s just there and honestly, it gets in the way of having fun. And that’s why I play games. I play difficult games all the time and I have nothing against them. A lot of people are going to be put off by this and that’s a shame because the lore, story, and characters are pretty interesting.
This game’s combat is similar to Darkest Dungeon, but the camera angle is so close to your character when it’s your turn that you can’t see the enemies on the other side of the screen. The thing that separates this game from Darkest Dungeon is the main hub. You’re not just clicking on stuff and upgrading your party. You can walk around town, talk to NPCs, accept side quests, new main quests, buy new items, and more. I really enjoyed doing all of that stuff and it added to the overall experience for me.
The battles are the low point for and since this game is filled with them that’s why this is in the bad section. I didn’t have fun playing this game. It’s just too slow and the UI sucks and doesn’t convey enough information to the player.
It’s Difficult Just To Be Difficult
Darkest Dungeon will be as hard as you make it. If you plan accordingly you can have some good runs and not die too often. In this game, it’s the opposite. Nothing ever felt fair because nothing is communicated, the UI sucks, and you will die over and over and over again until you learn the game. The problem is even when you do learn the game you’ll still be put in unwinnable situations that’ll test your patience as well as your dedication to finishing this.
I really wanted to love Vambrace Cold Soul. There's a lot to like here. I like that it's focused on telling a story and that I can walk around the main hub and interact with different NPCs, but actually playing this game and experiencing that slow, tedious and difficult combat is all I can think of. Some quality of life updates can fix this, but I can't review something on what might happen. I have to write about what the game is like right now and right now I can't recommend this game because of the issues that I had while playing. Vambrace Cold Soul is a decent take on Darkest Dungeon and it does do some things right. There's just too much wrong for me to give this my recommendation.