By Sparky_Buzzsaw 11 Comments
After last week's relatively quiet Update, I've come to some preliminary ideas and conclusions about the RPG Retrospective moving forward. From now on out, each game will be covered in two different parts. I won't be covering the story elements beyond what I feel is necessary for a basic introduction of each game. That said, I'd still like to complete each game, and will throw in some posthumous story notes if needed.
This week, I'm going to wrap up my thoughts on Vagrant Story, as I've finished it. Not gonna lie - I was pretty damn underprepared at spots, but I finished the tale of Ashley Riot late Monday evening. Also this week, I'll briefly be talking about Amalur, again.
RPG Retrospective - Vagrant Story: Part 3
This section is devoted briefly to the amount of cheesy RPG cliches you'll find in each game I feature here. Practically a fault of nearly every RPG throughout the years has been certain cliches that pop up time and time again. Other genres have their own, but in a genre wherein you'll likely spend dozens of hours with each game, it's good to know this in advance.
Surprisingly, there's little of note in Vagrant Story. The enemy types are fairly cliched, but the novel approach of the weapons and weaknesses systems makes fighting each of them less of a grind. Speaking of grinds, there are some spots where grinding is almost necessary, though with the proper preperation, the grind should be minimal for experienced RPG players. Some of the Japanese-ness of the characters peeks through the blinders, such as with the character designs and the taunting nature of Sydney. However, there's nothing really aggravating about any of this, and as a whole, the game does a great job of reining in the cheese.
One of the biggest attractions of a great RPG is in its replayabilty. Are there lots of hidden items, fights, or additional goodies to find that could significantly alter a playthrough? Is there a New Game+? Is the story great enough to revisit, or is it hell to trudge through?
Vagrant Story has a New Game+ that essentially carries over all your items and stats. According to Wikipedia, it doesn't alter any story elements, but offers up the potential for some further exploration. Readers of the blog have also pointed out that there are weapons accessible only through the New Game+, so there's that as well.
The story is great enough to warrant another playthrough. Honestly, I probably will play this through at least one more time at some point, slowly and with an eye towards exploration. I feel like I rushed certain sections of the game, and I'd like to get in and explore more of Lea Monde. The gameplay should lend itself to multiple playthroughs without any real frustration further on down the line, as there's nothing quite like it, and therefore, nobody's refined it.
Overall Quality, Then and Now
Since I didn't play Vagrant Story back in the day, I can't give you a comparison of my experiences of the game. But in comparison to some of its peers, including its cousin Final Fantasy Tactics, I can say that it holds up incredibly well. The action-focused gameplay, narrow dungeons, and elimination of random encounters should get a cheer from many a new player. The story is superb, with a lengthy ending, deep characters, and a dark tone. Ashley Riot, though by nature a haunted man, is no emo punk parading as a leading man, and is an intellectually satisfying main character. I'm honestly shocked we haven't seen more of him in games - although with the assless chaps, perhaps that's a good thing.
Again, of particular note is that gorgeous score. Even if you don't play the game, do yourself a favor and check out the music.
Total Value Versus Accessibility
This is a bit of an awkward title for the section. Basically, it's where I'll put down my thoughts on whether or not the game is worth playing based on how easy it is to find and the price it's commonly available at. This is also a catch-all for who should pick up the game and any thoughts that might relate to your enjoyment of it.
In regards to Vagrant Story, the value is staggering. The game is easily accessible through PSN, and at a mere $7, I cannot recommend it more to just about anyone save graphics-whores (and if you're one of those, you're reading the wrong blog). This game is begging for some sort of revisiting somewhere down the line, be it a real or spiritual sequel.
Play this game. It's not perfect, but I couldn't have asked for a better game to kickstart this RPG Retrospective.
- I love Kingdoms of Amalur. This is one insanely big game, held back only by a lack of imagination. It borrows story and plot elements from tons of fantasy novels, especially Tolkien, Robert Jordan, and especially Salvatore's own previous work. At parts, that lack of originality really hampers the game, but overall, I feel like this is one of the best new IP's of this generation.
-Really bummed to hear Bulletstorm 2 got canned. I hope the "kill with skill" stuff makes it into other games.
-The next game to be featured in the RPG Retrospective, you ask (or not)? I don't know when the first entry will be, but that game is none other than.... Tales of the Abyss! Well, technically, Tales of the Abyss 3DS. Stay tuned, intrepid reader. This one should be colorful.