is broken and harsh and annoying. Only the hardcore or the most determined can play through this games frustrating combat system. which is a shame because the game really is beautiful and has a great visual art style that resembles that of a painting on a canvas.
I feel that the combat system
Hmm I'm inclined to agree with you. I think the combat system is extremely complicated and has a really harsh learning curve - some parts of it are quite misleading and I would say slightly flawed in their design.
I'm about half way through it and stuck on a boss, I've had it for years and ever so often I crawl a bit further through it. Like you said I think it's a great shame as the game has an interesting story, fantastic design and atmosphere - however it just takes a bit of work I wouldn't quite call it a be or end all flaw.
This is probably my favorite ps1 game. It is freaking hard when you don't know how the weapon/enemy system works though. It took me 5 years of on-again off-again playing to finally beat it, but man was it worth it.
If you don't like the combat system in Vagrant Story, then you are no good at video games in general. The combat system was simple and easy to pick up, and it was a nice modification on the PE combat engine...which sucked hairy balls.
Read a FAQ, the chain hits are not required to beat the game, and in fact chaining hits increases your RISK, which can hurt more than help against bosses.
The key is not the combat chains, but having the RIGHT WEAPON TYPES, once you read up on weapon types the game will go from frustrating to a bit easy actually. Trust me my first time I had a dagger that was silver, i was getting pwned by most mobs. I started over and learned the weapon system, it's VERY FUN to go farming in the Iron Maiden after game+
I actually figured out early on that you should avoid chaining above 5 or 6 hits (can't recall the exact number) and also making use of potions to lower down risk when you have to. I preemptively stop trying to go for longer chains just to avoid screwing up and ending up with an unnecessarily high risk meter. You just have to stop chaining then attack the enemy again to reset.
EDIT: I beat the game when I was 13 y.o., a year and a half after I started playing it. I was pretty much really focused on school and I didn't play game a lot at that age but the game has stuck with me for awhile..
Vagrant Story is great because you can approach the game multiple ways.
You can spend the time and go crazy (literally and figuratively) building up weapons for the different enemy types. OR you can do what I usually do and ignore weapon types entirely in favor of chaining. You will always accumulate big damage if you chain, and management of your Risk stops mattering once you understand how much damage your foes can deal (as to not die on a critical hit) and that they always have a limb that's susceptible to endless chaining.
For first time players though, it's probably best to stick to lugging around situational weapons and using the range of buffs and Break Arts.
Looking back at my original comment, I now see where my descent into the world of "bitter old man" started.
Also, I played through Vagrant Story again a few months back for shits and gigs. Turns out, that game is still the best video game ever made, regardless of what Gerstmann has said in the past on my list. It also made me realize why I ended up falling in love with Souls-like games so much, as that game's focus on few enemies but big boss fights feels a lot like that.
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