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Chris Kavan's Video Game Reviews (495)

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Persona 5 Royal 4.5/5
A Hat in Time 3.5/5
Sunset Overdrive 4/5
The Vagrant 4/5
Honkai: Star Rail 3.5/5
MechWarrior 5: Mercenar... 4/5
Rage 2 3.5/5
Alan Wake 4/5
Riverbond 3.5/5
Dead Island 2 3.5/5
Saints Row IV 3.5/5
The Last of Us Part II 4.5/5
Torchlight III 3/5
Wolfenstein II: The New... 4/5
Ghost of Tsushima 4.5/5
Battletoads (2020) 2/5
Danganronpa: Trigger Ha... 4/5
Override: Mech City Bra... 3/5
Maneater 3/5
Door Kickers: Action Sq... 4/5
Spider-Man (2018) 4.5/5
Red Dead Redemption 2 4.5/5
Boot Hill Heroes 3.5/5
Control 4/5
Victor Vran 3/5

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The Vagrant   PC (Steam) 

Sincere Imitation, Flattery Achieved    4/5 stars

Inspiration leads can lead to imitation - and O.T.K. Games, inspired by the Vanillaware look and feel of titles like Odin Sphere and Muramasa: The Demon Blade, has delivered unto us The Vagrant. While maybe not quite as polished as the more major studio, The Vagrant is still a solid and, more importantly, quite fun 2D platformer with very well designed characters, enemies and levels - not bad for a trio of first-time Chinese game designers. While we often think of Chinese products as inferior, The Vagrant proves that there are dedicated people willing to deliver quality.

Looks and Stuff: With Vanillaware listed as a primary inspiration by the development team, The Vagrant gives off the vibe most pleasantly. From the "sex sells" school of character design to the slightly weird monsters and backgrounds and even the way you can cook food - The Vagrant hits all the right notes. While not fully voiced, the game does give you a few snippets of (non-English) dialogue, along with a solid soundtrack. The game also borrows from the nebulous Metroid-vania 2D platform gaming that is all the rage with interconnected screens, collectible powerups and various merchants scattered about. I never ran into any game-breaking bugs or any other major issues along the way.

Story: The titular character of The Vagrant is Vivian, a scantily-clad warrior with the dangerous power of a Runewarden. This means she can wield magic via her sword abilities - and is a sworn enemy of the Mage class - who, of course, are a bunch of high-class snobs just because they can wield magic. After washing ashore following a ship-wreck on a quest to undo a familial curse, she finds herself in a small town where a woman begs her to help her elope with a man her family disapproves of - and, with little else to do, agrees. But this one seemingly small favor escalates greatly when she finds the boyfriend dead - and not only that, his blood has rendered a nearby wardstone inert, allowing a demon to raise hell - along with the undead. After a hard-fought but losing battle, Vivian is saved by a mage, Holborn and her apprentice - who happens to be the younger brother of the woman she attempted to help flee and elope. But Holborn has figured out Vivian's true nature and binds her - as she needs to use the rundwarden to help undo a curse bestowed by the demon. With the apprentice in tow, Vivian is sent to various locations, including ruins, a devious old witch and a cursed keep - but Vivian is still working on her own plan to not just free herself from Holborn, but undo the curse that has befell her family. Holborn, however, is as duplicitous as any mage and her own plan is much more devious. Both stories will come together in the end - and it can end good or bad.

Gameplay: Like any good Metroid-vania, the main game is a 2D platformer and a lot of combo work with your sword, along with dodging and some special moves. The game is littered with a lot to collect - mana to upgrade your powers and stats, gold to spend on potions, recipes and weapons/armor and the rare artifacts that unlock specific runewarden abilities - from spinning blades to fast strikes to an aerial upper. All the special moves require rage - a magic-like meter that refills via killing enemies or using potions. Your health also does the same. Most enemies will also drop various potions - you will use them and the game has a mechanic that if you spam them, they become less and less effective, so don't do that, yeah? The game is littered with destructible objects as well as treasure chests - boxes, suits or armor, gross piles of gunk - these offer up everything from healing food to weapons and armor to just stuff to sell for money. In the early game, getting a good drop on a weapon or better piece of armor is a nice bonus. By end-game you come across some near-broken awesome weapons, rendering everything else obsolete, but it will require a fair bit of mana grinding to truly unlock the full potential of your powers and upgrading things to the max. Luckily the game has a few areas where you can do just that - kill a few enemies for a good chunk of mana.

The game has a good mix of enemies that are challenging without being obnoxiously difficult. Even bosses are fairly balanced. The only time I felt truly annoyed was the (entirely optional) Boss Rush dungeon, but even that I eventually managed to beat. The most annoying enemies aren't the strongest ones but the ones that bum rush you and knock you waaaaay down a vertical screen. Screw those bomb-throwing jerks and archers who run away. It's also easy for enemies to respawn - so be forewarned about that.

Replay value: In order to get the real "true" ending, you are pretty much required to go through a second time - and in order to get all the achievements, you have to play on the highest difficulty. But as the game allows you to keep all your progress and gear, a second time around is pretty easy and, for once, I didn't mind dipping into that well again.

Final Verdict: If you like Metroid-vania platformers and the Vanillaware aesthetics, then The Vagrant is a low-cost, near-imitation winner worth playing.

Presentation: 4/5
Story: 3/5
Gameplay: 4/5
Replay: 4/5
Overall (not an average): 4/5



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