Games of the Year

Vambrace: Cold Soul

Vambrace: Cold Soul Screenshot 1
Vambrace: Cold Soul Screenshot 2
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The King of Shades has cursed the great city of Icenaire. Now cast under a permanent blight of frost fall, its former residents have returned from the dead as mad Wraiths. Survivors take refuge deep underground where they lead a desperate campaign against this unearthly power. Woefully outmatched, they are forced into hiding as the King of Shades amasses an army of the undead above them. One fateful day, a mysterious stranger appears in the city with an enchanted vambrace. She may now be their only hope… You are Evelia Lyric, bearer of the Aetherbrace and the only human capable of entering Icenaire. The survivors now look to you as their best hope against the King of Shades. Only one problem...you’re woefully outmatched, and survival is not guaranteed. Vambrace: Cold Soul is a narrative-driven game filled with memorable characters, brutal challenges, and deep strategy. To succeed, you must choose perceptive party leaders, camp to recuperate, navigate strange encounters, and survive deadly combat. Will you scavenge for supplies to sell or use them to craft new items for your next expedition? The surface of Icenaire is cold and unforgiving. So, prepare your party well before departing...lest you join the cursed city's undead.
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Game Discussion

Review by Anonymous
Review from Steam

Vambrace it's not a bad game, considering the relatively small team that created it.
Visually is very pleasing, with a style strongly reminiscent of korean manwha. Quite a bit of effort went into world building and the story, despite the fact that it seems to follow a checklist of all the cliches of the genre (mysterious father missing - check; enemy who turns out to be on the same side - check; betrayal of the supposed friend - check ... and so on, with unerring precision).
From the point of view of the gameplay it is clearly inspired by Darkest Dungeon, but without approaching neither the difficulty (players with a minimum of experience in the genre will probably never see any of the characters die) nor the depth of the tactics or customization. This last part was the most frustrating thing for me: the main character evolves very little in the course of the story, and the companions even less: they have fixed statistics, and the only change that can be made is to slightly improve the characteristics with a single piece of equipment . You probably shouldn't expect too much from such a short indie title, but it was a disappointment nonetheless.
Another element that would require a lot of work is the interface: almost everything that happens (skills, buffs, debuffs ...) is represented by unclear symbols and a trivial function like an explanation pop-up window with mouse over is missing, so you have to go all the way to the character sheet to understand what's going on.
That said, it's still an enjoyable game and a commendable effort on the part of the developers, whose passion for the project is clear even beyond the flaws... I would still recommend buying it when it is on sale.

Review from Steam

A December 2021 review:
A Darkest Dungeon-style game that all fans should play AND VCS is a great gateway game for anyone new to the genre or felt that DD was a little too difficult. VCS has its challenging moments but never becomes frustrating. To comment on the past reviews:
+Yeah, the character design (waifu central!) and artwork (incredible backgrounds, foregrounds, and lighting) throughout the game are top-notch. It's a very nice touch to have the main character not only unlock 20+ different outfits to wear in-game, but have those outfits show up in the dialogue and portraits too! Bravo on going the extra mile on that one!
+Music is awesome: sets the scene well (and I could listen to the title-screen music all day).
+Addictive. "Failed" runs have you recruiting new party members and getting back in the action immediately without having to level-grind toons.
As for the "no tool tips," many of the tool tips are displayed in the menu for your character abilities and in your item inventories. The game is not overly complicated and you will be able to identify most of what is going on with ease. It is true that there are some in-combat buffs and debuffs that do not have tool tips so I'm not sure exactly what they mean, but it rarely (only once so far in my 19 hours) delayed me from progressing. Do not let a few missing tool tips prevent you from playing this great game!
To summarize: a must buy for DD fans, and a must buy for anyone on the fence about this game and/or genre!

Review from Steam

I love this game! It's challenging and has a unique art style that deeply resonates with me every time I play the game. I'm surprised it's got mixed reviews, but it seems a lot of people are comparing Vambrace to Darkest Dungeon. I haven't played the latter, so I cannot comment on that. What I can share, though, are my experiences playing Vambrace:
What is this game?
Your aim is to defeat a boss in each map and loot the "dungeons" within it. The dungeons use a timer and your crew loses stamina every time you move from room to room, which can mean tough choices for your team. A total loss of stamina/health results in final death for the character. Complete a map and advance the story!
What's so special?
- You can assemble a crew to fit your playstyle. Pick from various classes and play how you want. You can also pick an off-power for your crew members, and the right power can make a big difference in certain dungeons.
- Learn about the characters and their stories. Do side quests and complete your outfit collection for Lyric. Some outfits are mutually exclusive, so you'll need to play the game at least twice if you care about getting all achievements.
- Explore old and new dungeons.
- Craft and forge items. There are no armour upgrades, but there are trinkets. They'll boost your team's stats or turn a warrior into a tank.
Why is this game hard (and maybe not for you)?
- Your team can only recover at a camp fire and they're distributed randomly on each map. There is an RNG element, which determines your recovered health/stamina, which can make dungeons tough if you don't know what you're doing. The intro does explain the importance of stats, though.
- Trinkets are lost on death. Choose wisely who gets to use what.
- Content can be missed if you aren't using a guide. Sadly, this includes one of the strongest trinkets in the game.
- You cannot save on dungeon maps but you can retreat. You'll have to fight your way through the same dungeons again.
- Losing a crew member in a dungeon is a guaranteed death sentence for the rest of the team.
- Some quest markers don't show up on the map. Especially side quests where the main character is asked to deduce information can be hard without a guide.
I'd recommend playing with a controller.

Review from Steam

It reminds me a lot of Darkest Dungeon but not as brutal, and i love the story for this game as well. The art work is also really good and fun to look at. The music is a bit generic and is constantly on loop so it gets old pretty fast but that doesn't take away from the game play at all and i usually like to have youtube on in the background while i play so i just turn the music down or off. All around a great game.

Review from Steam

Overall 4/5
Pros:
-Good story
-great artwork
-good music
-fun party-class system
-scratches the turn-based rpg itch
-Lore heavy world
-Well made characters
Cons:
-Lots of popup events that feel tedious after some time
-Little to no information on several side quests that effect the endings
-Side quests take the butterfly effect to the extreme

Review from Steam

Great detective RPG game. Yes it uses Darkest Dungeon mechanics but it has a really good story. Had lots of fun playing it and unlocking outfits. Could use character romancing to add to the story, it is too straight forward to the end goal, and adding that character development and romancing could really make it perfect.
Cant wait for sequel.

Review from Steam

It's like Darkest Dungeon but with a different slant. I like it. It has a certain charm about it but it can be quite grindy from what I can see. I'm going to continue playing it and update my review as I go. I picked this up during a sale, and I can recommend getting it, it's worth it. It is difficult though, pretty brutal sometimes on the luck.

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