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Vagrant Story Video Game – 2000

4.2 out of 5 stars 123 customer reviews

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Video Game, 2000
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$79.84 $13.25

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Editorial Reviews


Vagrant Story is one of those games that wows you at the start--a big "WOW!" in this case--but maintains only a tenuous hook in the long haul. In this mix of action/adventure and fantasy role-playing, players are cast as a Riskbreaker (think one-man army) named Ashley Riot, whose pursuit of a villainous cult leader takes him to the mysterious city of Lea Monde.

The highly stylized graphics in Vagrant Story are easily some of the best ever seen on the PlayStation, and give the game a gorgeous, distinctive look to match its somber tone. Cinematic story sequences blend in almost seamlessly with gameplay, which takes place in 3-D environments (viewed from a third-person perspective) that can be rotated to provide the best angle.

Vagrant Story features a rich battle system that's built on both strategy and quick reflexes. In addition to character statistics, weapons and armor have detailed numbers of their own and can be disassembled, assembled, or even combined to create new items. Hand/eye coordination factors heavily into combat, as Ashley develops offensive and defensive battle abilities that require perfectly timed button pushing in order to be used.

Unfortunately, it's all too easy to get bored with Vagrant Story. The painfully linear gameplay here doesn't rise above killing enemy after enemy in room after room, and (oh boy!) solving puzzles by manipulating boxes. If not for the wholly intriguing (but sparsely littered) plot, one would be strongly tempted just to leave Ashley to rot in the catacombs beneath Lea Monde. --Joe Hon


  • Highly stylized graphics
  • Rich battle system
  • Intriguing plot
  • Shallow, linear gameplay


Let's just get it out of the way - Vagrant Story is a groundbreaking game. With this melange of action, adventure, and RPG genres, Square has truly beaten all odds and produced a seamless epic unlike any other. A brutal battle wages between the Knights of the Crimson Blade and the Mullenkamp Cult in the city of Lea Monde. Caught in the middle is Ashley Riot, an agent for the Valendia Knights of Peace's elite "Riskbreaker" unit. After a chance encounter with Sydney Losstarot, the heartless leader of the Mullenkamp Cult, Ashley finds himself in a life-or-death game of cat and mouse amidst a plot larger than the two of them. Many have described Vagrant Story as "Medieval Gear Solid," a comparison that is both correct and not correct. While the MGS feel is there thanks to Vagrant Story's perspective, attention to detail, and emphasis on cinematics, you never actually skulk through shadows, avoid guards' cones of sight, and the like. The game is an odd blend of action, adventure, and RPG gameplay, and a lot of Vagrant Story's charm lies in the sheer amount of control you have in playing through what is mostly a linear game. Most of the game takes place underneath Lea Monde, where Ashley runs into room after room, slays several monsters without a second thought, and recovers information and keys to aid in his pursuit of Sydney. You navigate around the world as you would in Metal Gear Solid, guiding the character with the analog pad and rotating the viewpoint with the L and R buttons. Ashley can switch in and out of battle mode, freeing his hands for tasks such as lifting boxes or grabbing edges. While the latter isn't emphasized too heavily, Vagrant Story does have a surprising compunction for box puzzles. Though they start off easy, they eventually become fairly fiendish with the addition of a variety of new and different box types. While navigating the labyrinthine corridors under Lea Monde is all done in real time, battling is a decidedly different affair. Once in battle mode, tapping the attack button pauses the game and causes a large wireframe sphere to erupt from Ashley's body. This sphere represents the range of the weapon Ashley is currently using, thus any targetable item within the sphere can be attacked. While smaller enemies may only have one attackable segment, most of time monsters' individual limbs can be targeted. Detailed percentage-to-hit and damage stats help you plan your attacks more effectively, but attacking certain areas can have other effects. For example, if you attack a monster's legs there's a good chance you'll reduce its movement rate by 50 percent. After you have selected a target, game time resumes and Ashley attacks. After defeating the first boss, Ashley will gain the use of chain abilities. These let Ashley perform consecutive hits when he's attacking enemies, with every additional attack benefiting Ashley in ways other than sheer damage. Ashley can ready up to three of these attacks at a time, and with the proper timing, chain them until the target keels over. For example, you can restore magic points or life with a carefully timed chain attack. Learned at the same time as chain abilities, defense abilities allow you to key different kinds of defense. When you're attacked, tapping the right button could restore half of the damage you just took or reflect it back at the enemy. After gaining enough experience, you'll be presented with a choice as to which new ability you'd like to learn. Using chain and defense abilities is useful but they build Ashley's risk level. When the risk level is too high, Ashley's ability to connect with both weapons and spells drops steeply - while you could theoretically chain attacks together forever, this would cause Ashley's risk level to skyrocket, and any other enemies in the area would surely wax you. Thus, the real advantage of chaining is that it prevents enemies from attacking while you deal lots of damage. In addition to chain and defense abilities, Ashley has a few more elite tricks up his sleeve. Break arts, learned after gaining considerable experience, allow Ashley to sacrifice some of his own life meter to inflict massive damage on an enemy. As Ashley progresses to and through the dark city of Lea Monde, many enemies will drop pages from the legendary spell book Grimon. Each page contains a single spell that is memorized once read. Magic spells fall into four categories, such as attack, healing, and status magic. Some spells, such as the explosion and thunder-burst spells, let you position a sphere of attack to target multiple enemies or multiple body parts on the same enemy. Despite all of these options, Vagrant Story's gameplay interface is relatively clutterless and intuitive - hold down the L2 button, and you have fast access to just about everything. Outside of battle, Vagrant Story continues its control fixation with a maze of menus that lets you customize your experience even more. In addition to the standard RPG equip and inventory screens, Vagrant Story lets you forge your own weapons and armor from weapons and armor you find in the game. Ashley can only perform these feats in factories scattered throughout the game, and each factory can only forge items made from certain materials. As Ashley's weapons become more accustomed to killing certain types of monsters as he progresses, this lets you carry your old weapon stats to onto new weapons. In addition to forging new weapons, Ashley can disassemble any weapon and reassemble a new one from the parts, allowing for greater customization. Finally, gems can be inlaid at any time to alter a weapon's stats and allow for more on-the-go changes, such as changes to a weapon's elemental attribute. Vagrant Story is one of the most beautifully cinematic games to date, easily toppling Metal Gear Solid. With character designs by Akihiko Yoshida, the venerable artist behind Final Fantasy Tactics' noseless wonders, Vagrant Story looks and feels like a living 3D comic brought to life. Each model is fluidly animated and textured with a sketch-like quality that gives the game a visual feel all its own. Topped off with impressive lighting and spell effects, Vagrant Story is a visual feast. Adding to the game's cinematic charm is yet another impressive score by Hitoshi Sakimoto, one of Final Fantasy Tactics' composers. The sound effects are well done and impressive, straying from Square's standard of synthed noise. From an audio standpoint, the only thing conceivably missing is voice - while the jagged comic dialog boxes are charming, one can't help but think this game could be more impressive with voice. However, avoiding Metal Gear Solid's glut of dialogue is definitely a plus. All together, Vagrant Story's disparate parts come together in a beautiful, cinematic experience. The game's story is compelling and constantly urges you to press forward, giving the game the addictive quality of the finest RPGs. While a fairly short game, the depth and density of the story and gameplay give Vagrant Story an intensity missing from most longer games, as well as a higher replay value. Due to thick Japanese dialogue and some complicated Japanese menus, English-speaking gamers are advised to wait for the US version, due this May. --Peter Bartholow
--Copyright ©1998 GameSpot Inc. All rights reserved. Reproduction in whole or in part in any form or medium without express written permission of GameSpot is prohibited. -- GameSpot Review

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Product Details

  • Video Game
  • Publisher: Square Enix; Standard edition (2000)
  • ASIN: B00004SPW9
  • Product Dimensions: 5 x 5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 6.4 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (123 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #234,778 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By A Customer on May 24, 2000
I've been a console RPG fan for many years now. From Dragon Warrior to Final Fantasy I have played most all of the popular games that have long been the catalysts for mass obsession. Vagrant Story is no exception to this rule. I purchased this game right as it hit the shelves, not knowing what to expect...but knowing that I was not to be disappointed by the divine power of Squaresoft. This is perhaps a game that could be referred to as "video gaming's first successful gene splicing experiment." Combine a pinch of the dungeon roaming found in the old Zelda or Diablo games with a dash of Tomb Raider and you have the beginnings of a great game. Now, mix in one part Final Fantasy and set in a rich, dark, gothic environment...and voila!...you have quite possibly the world's perfect video game.
The battle system in Vagrant Story is like none that I have seen before...it is possible to target your opponents body parts separately in order to perhaps find a weakness. There are also real time functions that you learn called battle abilities which allow you to make your attacks more effective. You don't necessarily find complete weapons in this game either, you make your own...and then name them!
Let's not forget the monsters...there are more than I can count. Dragons, zombies, lizard-men...all of these and more haunt the complex dungeons you will explore on your quest. In fact, as an added point of challenge for the game, the weapons you use will eventually developing a liking to the flesh of the creature you most often attack and will become more effective against others of its kind...but beware!...your weapons may become ineffective against those monsters of an opposite persuasion.
In closing...get this game...period...no questions asked. If you can look in a mirror and say with a straight face that you are a serious console RPG fan, you have absolutely no choice...no...you owe it to yourself to give this game a try!
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...and you need it for this game. I absolutely loved it, but I know many people do not have the interest or patience for a long, difficult game. The story revolves around a Riskbreaker named Ashley Riot, send to the abandoned city of Lea Monde to track down a cultist, Sydney Losstarot. Most of the game takes place in Lea Monde, so make yourself at home there.
Vagrant Story will probably take around 30 to 50 hours to beat on the first play, depending on how long you spend looking for weapon componants and spell scrolls. No, not gaining levels, this game is not level-based. You can only increase your stats, health, and magic with oh-so-rare potions and beating bosses. (I started the game with 250 health and finished with 280.) Most of the 30-50 hours is spend dungeon crawling and fighting with the occasional pause for plot scenes. Be warned, the battles in this game are HARD. Normal enemies can take a lot of effort to kill, especially if they gang up on you. And you WILL die at bosses until (and probably even after) you get the hang of the battle system. It's not complicated, just heavily based on timing your attacks. There is some emphasis on problem solving and puzzles, mostly block puzzles, but not as many as other games (ie, Soul Reaver). The graphics are a little bit blurry close up, but in general they are very fluid and well-done. The characters are given facial expressions and moving mouths when they speak, and the cut scenes (while not CG) are impressive.
The best part of this game is definately the plot. Months after playing it, I'm still discussing the plot and characters. There are heavy religious and political themes (another thing some people have no interest or patience for), and some very good plot twists even for the minor characters.
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By A Customer on June 13, 2000
Verified Purchase
There are many good games. "Resident Evil," "Siphon Filter," "Metal Gear," "Tomb Raider," "Tekken," "Parasite Eve" all come to mind instantly for most of us. As good as they are, they all have blemishes. The machinegun you're holding mysteriously changes to a glock when FMVs play between rooms in "Resident Evil." The backrounds are stunning in "Tomb Raider" but many of the characters are animated so poorly it's distracting. The combat system in "Parasite Eve" is great, as far as RPGs go, but hardly involves the excitement that live combat controls bring. The grammar, acting, and backstories in most videogames... well, they're awful.
Enter "Vagrant Story."
The animation (mosters, humans, animals, elementals, water, magick) is better than any Playstation game yet; from the twitching ears on the Ogre to the slack jaws of the goblin kings. The combat system is perfect. Not being able to customize the key set is somewhat annoying, but it's so well designed you forget quickly and learn to lean on the O for combat instead of the X. The system is a perfect blend of RPG style (think of the "Parasite Eve" ranging system) with live buttons for defense and special attacks (there are about a dozen special attacks and defenses which you gain with experience and assign to 3 keys for live combat). The score and sound are fantastic as well. It's one of the few games you can play with headphones and not notice glitches or poor mixing in the sound and music.
Load times are good and always smooth. Bosses are extremely tough (and there are many of them) but not impossible to beat on the first try if you're in the swing of the game and know how to use all your resources.
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