Sword of the Vagrant- Review

Released in 2018 on Steam, Sword of the Vagrant was ported to most current consoles in December 2022 also known as simply The Vagrant.

Originally coming from a failed Kickstarter campaign and touted as a side-scrolling action rpg, Sword of the Vagrant puts you in the role of the sellsword Vivian. Shipwrecked on the shore of the village of Brocley, she is chasing after her missing father and gets embroiled within an adventure that could see the resurrection of a mad god.

Straight out of the gate you’ll notice the design of Vivian herself is very revealing and not suited for constant battle, wearing very little armour and a bikini that must be made from a bag of holding. Thankfully, at least for this reviewer, I found the alternate costume tucked away in the options making me feel a little less dirty playing. Although she did strip off again for cutscenes, somewhat breaking the immersion.

All the backgrounds and characters are hand drawn and look fantastic, giving the game a unique look and feeling like an art book in some places. While the main character has a lot of different animations, some enemies have that “paper doll” style of animation which is more noticeable on the larger bosses.

The journey isn’t a straight A-B either. Each of the six areas have sprawling side paths leading usually to treasure or an item, invoking a Metroidvania feel but reflecting back there was no need to revisit earlier areas so I couldn’t class it as such.

Vivian has three slots for equipment, weapon, armour and accessory. All of which are available in shops or found in treasure chests along the way. However in-game their placement appears haphazard or random as I was still picking up early level gear all the way into the last area.

Your experience is known as mana in the game and unlike other rpg’s is a tangible object that must be collected. It acts as currency in the spider-web skill tree or can be used to buff your weapon/armour. Likewise gold can be dropped by enemies which is used in shops to purchase meals, potions or equipment. Meals give a semi-permanent buff until you die or the next time you eat and can be purchased in shops or made at camp fires. Campfires being one of the two save points in the game, the other being ‘stelas’ which also act as fast travel hubs.

The controls are fairly intuitive with light/heavy attacks and jump being face buttons, dodge on the right trigger and potion on the left. However the rage attack being mapped to the same button that cancels a menu saw me accidentally using that attack far too often.

Gameplay involves standard side-scroller platformer with melee based combat, utilising different variations of light and heavy attacks for more devastating combos, all while building up a rage metre with successive hits which you can unleash with a more powerful move. Occasionally facing a boss you will have to study its’ patterns and utilise the I-frames of the dodge and have to time your potion usage sparingly as their potency goes down if used in quick succession.

After 8 hrs I had completed my first run and although some parts were frustrating (looking at you flying enemies) I did enjoy my time with it. One major gripe I had was where I appeared to be soft-locked and unable to progress until I looked and found there was a double jump hidden in the skill tree, which not immediately available or noticeable being about three upgrades down a branch. At one point, I thought I had been quite thorough but only achieved the normal ending with some content still locked off, which is when I discovered this game was designed for multiple playthroughs with skills costing far more mana than I could achieve in one playthrough without grinding, and many unique endings if I lost to certain bosses. Thankfully a NG+ is available if I ever wanted to return.

For a budget price (less than a tenner), The Vagrant was a decent adventure that killed a couple of afternoons. It could have done with a bit more levity as the story overall was very grimdark and might have benefited from not have every female character smuggling balloons in their top.

7/10 star rating

Developers: O.T.K Games, DICO Co. Ltd

Publishers: SakuraGame, Rainy Frog

Platform: Nintendo Switch, PlayStation 5, PlayStation 4, Xbox One, Microsoft Windows





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