Format reviewed: PlayStation
Submitted by: Chris Murphy
Where to start on a game like Vagrant Story? There's so much to talk about in this epic from Square. Fusing elements of the platformer, action adventure and RPG genres to create an in-depth experience, Square provided a refreshing alternative to the Final Fantasy series.
It's hard to condense the story into a small chunk of text due to it being so complex. Our hero, though, is Ashley Riot, and he is sent to apprehend Sydney, a cult leader. This is only the beginning of an epic tale, which in itself is one of the game's strongest points – the translation by Alexander O. Smith, using archaic rather than modern English, is widely regarded as one of the best of all time. Worthy of note at this point is the setting of the game: Ivalice, which is home to the Final Fantasy Tactics range and also FFXII.
The game itself has you chopping down some detailed (and huge, in many cases) mosters, soldiers and ghosts – a vast array of enemies, in fact. To help you along the way, you can specifically tailor your customisable weapons to each type of enemy – for instance, a good blunt instrument to deal with stone creatures is a good idea – attacking these guys with something sharp makes them laugh at you. Combat has a novel sphere which shows your range, and while the game is an RPG at heart, a cracking chain method is an action mechanic adapted for this genre – risk versus reward at it's finest. Spells are in abundance too, from the elemental attacks to support spells like strength up.
Being a PS1 game, you might expect that the graphics will have aged badly, however this is not the case. You know you're playing a Playstation game, but the character models and French architecture look awesome. Sound is fantastic too – a sweeping score by Hitoshi Sakamoto backed up by some brilliant effects.
I could wax lyrical about this masterpiece for hours, but a warning – some have been put off by the complexities of inventories, battles et al, but you are urged to take your time and try and enjoy a unique and incredible game.