I played Vambrace: Cold Soul on PS4. The influence it took from Darkest Dungeon is clear. However, I have no more references than that; I haven’t played Darkest Dungeon so take my opinion as someone that only knows this game.
The game is also available on Nintendo Switch, XBox One, PC, Mac, and Linux.
A dark place
The game takes place in a frozen city that has been suffering a curse inside its walls. Life is just getting harder and harder, and people have lost hope.
I must say that the atmosphere in this game is really good. I was expecting a few mentions of the world but not something very substantial. To me it was just a place covered in ice, but as you progress and talk to the the folks, is when you realize something is very wrong, and that you actually need to help them;the NEED help, even though some have already given up, and others are have lost their minds already.
The gameplay is easy to understand. You are alone, and as any dungeon crawler, you’re going to need to explore dangerous places, so you better go and recruit party members. There’s a specific place on the map and as you get near you get the indication.
When you recruit your party members, you’re going to find different type of adventurers with different abilities, ready to help you in your journey. Be prepared because if they die, THEY STAY DEAD.
During your exploration, there are many dangers that you will find: the first and obvious are the enemies. These will come at random encounters while walking–you’ll fight them in a battle mode, your party fave to face against an enemy party. And depending on your companions, the fights can be easy or very hard, so take with you whomever you think will be more helpful. A healer is strongly recommended, but they are not always available, so make a good balance between their abilities and yours in order to get buffs for the team and debuffs for enemies.
Even when you have a good balanced team you should remember that the enemies have different attacks that might kill you immediately, or at least leave you with a stat that will affect combat or exploration. A lot of precautions are never enough here. The difficulty varies, and doesn’t help that you have a Fear (green) meter that will increase as you walk into another room or rest. There’s yellow bar that indicates your vigor, and once this reaches zero (this drains way faster when the fear meter is full), you’ll die instantly, unless you’ve been taking some breaks camping doing bonfires in the rooms that allow it; but every time you rest at a bonfire, your fear meter increases. You have to be well-prepared for that situation, explore and go straight to your goal. Do not be afraid to give up if you see there’s no way you could make it to the end of your mission. You’d have to start the dungeon from the very beginning, but at least you learned from the previous experience.
Whenever you return to a dungeon, though, it will be completely different. It randomizes. And the problem with it, is that all the traps that you had avoided, reset in different locations. In other words: you have to walk through the same but different rooms if you decide to go back and continue later.
The traps aren’t a real problem if you have a party member with good Awareness points (three or four points) in front. Dwarves are highly recommended to avoid traps, they have a good probability to get rid of them and keep walking without getting a negative status.
If you fall into a trap, you’ll get a negative status, from a broken bone, to a blurry vision (which reduces that probability to avoid traps), bleed, and some others that’ll make your journey through that dungeon more difficult. And believe me, you don’t want to make the game harder than it could be if you’re not careful.
While you walk in a dungeon, sooner or later you’ll end up triggering an event. From finding anything suspicious, from gas pipes or weird ghosts. You can pass some of these events, but others are unavoidable. Once this happens, you’ll get to choose one of your companions to do it. I believe it doesn’t matter which part member does it, the result is randomized, so I believe this was unnecessary in the first place. I guess the developers tried to add luck to increase the difficulty a little bit more, because hard isn’t enough nowadays.
Seriously, I looked and couldn’t find if the result depended on something else than luck.
If you fail, you’re going to get a negative stat, lose health or vigor, or increase your fear meter. If you succeed, you get an item, a little more health or vigor, or a buff.
There are side quests in the game. Some of them are interesting and some of them are not. Some of them expands the story a little more, and some others are simple. These are entertaining, I’m not going to lie; and most of these are completed while you explore the dungeons, so you can get the side quest item, “give up” the dungeon and return to the city to deliver the item. You won’t get punished for abandoning the dungeon before finishing it. You have to repeat, as I mentioned, the same but different dungeon with the enemies, traps and random events reset.
For each side quest you complete, you won’t get experience or very important items. These aren’t meaningful, to be honest. And I bet this is the main reason this has been called Darkest Dungeon: Waifu Version. And as you can see in the photos, the characters are very good-looking, especially the female characters. So, after completing a side-quest, you get a different outfit for Lyric.
I am not going to lie, they are cool. Some of them look great, some of them look sexy, and some of them are less interesting (in my opinion). This is a good addition that, if you look at other games, they’d cost $5 dollars each. So let’s appreciate our rewards.
If you’ve played Darkest Dungeon before, you might not find something new here, or maybe interesting.
But, if you haven’t played Darkest Dungeon (like me), then this is an interesting dungeon crawler that makes you dive into its atmosphere if you pay attention to everything that’s happening. Your protagonist, Lyric, is charismatic, and your party members have a few dialogs, too, to help you believe they are actually living being and not just soulless bodies that you control during your journey.
The game has replay value. Not the kind of replay value where you want to start immediately after the credits; believe me, you’re going to need a good break before you even think on coming back because the game is punishing at times. But you have costumes to unlock, different decisions to make to see a different conclusion. Of course, the game is not for everyone, but if you enjoy a good dungeon crawler with a hard difficulty and a dark and sad world, then I recommend you give it a try.