After some dabbling at the workshop (I really need to figure out a proper plan on equipment development), it was time to move on with Vagrant Story and maybe even get past my furthest point in previous plays.
The first thing I did was to go back to the previous dungeon and grind my Executioner on the training dummy. This ended up being just a waste of time. I’ve spent over an hour walking back and forth, but I just couldn’t find the dummy. Eventually, I gave up on it and went back to the City Center of Lea Monde. I see two possible explanations here. The less likely one is that the dummy disappears past a certain point in the story of Vagrant Story. The far more likely one is that I forgot where the dummy was and didn’t look hard enough.
On the plus side, my Hunter and Paladin gained a few Beast and Undead levels respectively, so I guess it was sort of worth it.
The next area was Undercity West. This one was easy and almost exclusively filled with undead, the only exception being a giant crab beast-type boss. The crab was easy to beat, considering I had magic which boosts my armor’s water affinity, my weapon’s fire affinity, and even a water gem.
Outside of that, Undercity West was a short area the first time around. Every branching path in there ended with a locked door, so soon enough, I ended up in the big one…
This is the farthest I got in any of my previous plays of Vagrant Story. The Snowfly forest is a labyrinth of “rooms”. Some of these are connected normally, some passages are one-way trips to the other side of the map, with the return trip leading to a whole different area of the map, etc. I don’t think anyone actually likes these sort of levels and I wasn’t the exception.
As a kid, I just tried to figure it out in my head and I failed, naturally. The rooms reset their enemies after you stray too far, the enemies have a high dodge rate and you actually fight fire elementals as regular enemies in two of the rooms. Everything in the Snowfly forest is designed to slowly destroy you with attrition damage.
This time, I did the smart thing. I started drawing a map. I wasn’t lost once. Don’t get me wrong. Finding out a passage takes you back across half the map and makes you walk all the way back, through two fire elemental fights is annoying, but with proper mapping, you always know exactly where to go and how to get there.
The two bosses weren’t an issue either. The Earth Dragon was the first boss and I already had the tools I needed to fight him – an air affinity gem and some air and earth grimoires. As with all the other enemies in Snowfly forest, the dragon had a high dodge rate, but I was able to kill it with enough time.
Grissom and the Dark Crusader
The second boss was a team effort. Grissom summonsed a Dark Crusader so Ashley teamed up with Sidney to fight them. The Dark Crusader is a dark-type with an air affinity, but as usual, I already found the gems and spells needed during the course of exploring the Snowfly Forest. Sidney did almost no damage throughout, but he kept casting Prostasia on himself and Ashley, so at least I didn’t have to worry about that.
After the battle, I looted the nearby chest and realized it contained a few more items which could have helped me against the two, so it might be a good idea to loot it during the fight in potential future play troughs.
I’m noticing some of the mechanics of the game aren’t exactly perfectly designed. For instance, the chain ability Gain Life restores Ashley’s health for 30% of the damage he deals. Gain Magic, on the other hand, does the exact same thing with MP. The thing is, Heal costs just a minor amount of HP and heals for way more than Gain Life usually does, so with Gain Magic available, Gain Life is completely useless. Well, not completely, but more on that later.
My general chain ability set up is as follows:
- Gain Magic – Regenerates an amount of Ashley´s MP equal to 30% of damage dealt.
- Temper – Inflicts an additional 40% of damage on foe and repairs a small amount of weapon DP.
- Instill – Inflicts additional damage equal to 10% of damage dealt and adds that amount to PP.
I use Gain Magic to fill up on MP when I have to and Temper combined with Instill to keep my weapon’s PP and DP maxed out, doubling the weapon’s effectiveness. Of course, when there’s a need, I use the status change abilities or any other situational ability. When my weapon doesn’t do any damage, Raging Ache and Crimson Pain are extremely useful, but risky. The former does damage equal to 10% of the damage Ashley sustained (so if I’m at 10/300 Health, I do 29 damage per hit), while the latter does damage equal to the initial hit, but also does 30% of the damage to Ashley. Thinking about it, using Crimson Pain and Gain Life can be an effective tactic, so I guess Gain Life does have a use.
It’s much more situational with defense abilities. Usually, I use Reflect Damage and Reflect Magic, based on the attack. Both return 40% of the damage dealt. I also use Impact Guard, since most enemies are physical.
- Impact Guard – Reduces physical damage by 50%.
The description is deceptive. What this actually does is that you receive 100% of the damage and are then healed by 50% of it after the damage is dealt. The key point here is that the healing happens even if you’re reduced to zero health by the initial attack, so as long as you’re good at chaining, you can’t really die from physical attack. Using Impact Guard with Raging Ache and Crimson Pain truly makes Ashley a riskbreaker. As for me, I don’t enjoy the adrenaline that much, so I rarely use this combination.
There are abilities similar to Impact Guard for magic attacks as well, but they are tied to individual enemies instead of magic in general, so, while they are just as useful, they are much more annoying to use, since you’d have to switch for every enemy.
I got back from Snowfly forest with a lot of new equipment, especially in the weapons department. Most of the blades were Silver and Hagane, so I couldn’t work with them in the Magic Hammer workshop, since it can only handle Bronze and Iron. What I could do is take the grips from these weapons and put them on my regular weapons. Because of that, all six of my weapons now have gem slots.
I also managed to replace the blade of my Exorcist two-handed sword with a katana blade. It had the same level of Evil affinity, but with a stronger attack, so the switch was a no-brainer.
In the armor department, the situation was much better. Most of the gear I got was either Bronze or Iron, so I could combine it with my existing gear to upgrade most of it to Hagane.
There was a lot of story development, where I finally figured out the name of Romeo’s lady-friend. It’s Samantha. I still have no idea what her role or job is, but based on some of the events, she seems to be some sort of military leader.
Ashley is clairvoyant, somehow, or at least, this is what the mysterious spiked armor guy that’s been following him called it. This time, Ashley saw the world through the eyes of Samantha for a while, but Romeo managed to figure it out and smacked her out of it, literally. Incidentally, Romeo’s powers seem to be similar to those of Sidney.
The spiked armor guy is Rosencrantz and is apparently also a riskbreaker. For now, Ashley doesn’t trust him at all and he has reasons not to, since Rosencrantz claims they are supposed to team up, even though riskbreakers are supposed to work alone, always.
After teaming up for a fight, Sidney started making Ashley question himself, claiming his memories of losing his family are fake and he was in fact an agent who killed an innocent family, mistaking them for targets.
Also, that Crimson Blade cleric I fought at the City Center, the one who dropped my Paladin staff was named Duane and he has a brother – Grissom. Grissom and Rosencrantz know each other and share some sort of mission secret. Grissom also wants revenge against Ashley, and even had the chance to get it, but failed. Before he failed, he summoned a demon (evil-type enemy), which is also a story twist, since people like him aren’t supposed to be able to do that.
Probably the biggest plot point is the Gran Grimoire. The Gran Grimoire is a spell book of insane power and all parties involved in Lea Monde seem to be looking for it, with Sidney seemingly knowing far more about it than anyone else.
I took the time to explore the menus of Vagrant Story. There’s actually quite a lot of stuff in there. First of all, the map is pretty cool. You can look at any area you’ve been in and it even tells you which doors you have the key for.
The status screen shows your own status, but you can also look at other enemies in the room with you. If you cast analyze on them, you can view detailed info, such as stats and affinities.
The Score menu is the one I really like. Under Title, you can look at the titles you’ve earned, which are basically achievements. I haven’t gotten any yet, so that’s just a guess, though. The Gazette tells you play statistics, such as number of victories, enemies fought, or basically anything. The Encyclopaedia holds a list of all the enemies you fought, including a 3d model you can rotate and a short description.
The Record Time sub menu holds your completion times, so it’s empty for me right now.
I’m really, really enjoying Vagrant Story. I’m about ten hours in, with 32% of the map completed, so I’m guessing the game will be cleared in under 40 hours. That’s just the first playthrough, though. The game really isn’t that long, so I’m sure some people could be done with it within the time it took me to get to this point.
Vagrant Story truly was ahead of its time in some aspects.