One thing I find pretty cool with Vagrant Story is that you can actually get upgrades from random enemies on a regular basis. It adds a degree of unpredictability you rarely see.
City Walls North
…is where most of upgrades dropped, mostly from lizardmen. Three pieces of Damascus steel equipment dropped – two vambraces and a pair of boots. This was surprising to me, because I though you can barely get those on your first playthrough of Vagrant Story.
All three pieces of gear were a straight upgraded in magic and physical defense stats, and even started with 10 in most of the affinity stats. Basically, I scored bit time
Outside of that, City Walls North felt like an optional area. I fought a bunch of lizard men and a time limited battle against a Dark Elemental, which fell easily, due to having low health and being relatively vulnerable to my Exorcist dagger. Finally, I got back out to the City Center East.
Break Arts are great
The thing about break arts is that, while the health cost is an obvious downside, most of the time they allow you to kill enemies much faster, meaning you avoid the damage the enemy would do to you during the fight. Overall, you usually end up on top.
Additionally, some of the break arts add status effect and have a damage type of their own, so for instance, when my Dragonslayer is a blunt weapon for some reason, I can still use a piercing break art to do extra damage.
I’m easily confused
I somehow got lost in City Center East. I somehow mistook it for one of the other two City Center areas and figured I’ve already been here, so I then spent far too much time wandering around, trying to figure out how to get back to the local Workshop.
Since enemies respawn after you get two rooms away from them, it means I spent a lot of time fighting. On the positive side, my Executioner got some experience, but on the negative, I wasted over an hour here.
Eventually, right next to a brand new workshop, which handles Silver and Damascus (but not Bronze, Iron or Hagane), I found the entrance to the next area.
Vagrant Story can be really brutal. The thing is, it’s the good type of brutal, which makes you think. I enjoy this type of brutal, very much.
Here’s an example.
Ashley is at around 280-290 HP now. The Undercity East area starts in a room with three evil little girl doll enemies. I can’t remember their name, but they have a high dodge rate, can silence you and can hit relatively hard. Really though, they probably won’t kill you. They very probably will silence you, though.
The issue with silence is that it doesn’t go away until you leave the room. If you leave the way you came from, you switch areas, so the room resets. If you go forward, you enter a tough battle and you weren’t able to cast your protective spells in the previous room.
In the next room, there’s a harpy. Harpies also have a high dodge rate. Additionally, they can curse you, which does some very bad things to you. Most importantly, they don’t do much damage to you, usually. Sometimes, they cast Banish, which does over 200 damage to you.
This is where I died the first time. I didn’t expect so much damage, I got careless, didn’t heal and that was that.
The second time, I got in, got silenced, got back out to recuperate and realized the monsters reset when you switch areas.
The third time, I pushed to kill the dolls before they can silence me and I succeeded. I waited to recover in the doll room, prepared my Hunter (the harpy is beast-type) and killed the harpy with ease, though I got cursed. Luckily, the harpy drops curse-removal items, so I used one, prepared for the next room and entered.
This was a boss battle against the Lich.
Boss Battle: Lich
I died almost instantly.
The Lich casts Thunderburst, Level 2. I didn’t know this, I didn’t know I’ll be fighting an undead and I wasn’t ready at all. The Lich teleported once, cast its spell and killed me instantly. The spell did over 300 damage.
On my fourth try, I again got rid of the dolls fast and killed the harpy with ease. I prepared my equipment and decided to cast Magic Ward on myself. Magic Ward blocks the next spell, friendly or hostile, that targets you.
I prepared my mana recovery chain arts, ready to recast Magic Ward if I have to, and entered the boss room. The Lich died in seconds.
It turns out, it has only about 100HP. It’s a glass cannon.
And this is why I like Vagrant Story. Yes, it’s brutal, but it’s never unfair. If you prepare, if you think and form a strategy, you’re going to have an extremely easy time with it. If you don’t, you will die, as you should.
It gets better
The following several rooms made me really scared. After both the harpy and the lich were basically boss battles (though the harpy didn’t give me a boss battle reward), I started encountering both of these enemies as just regular mobs, sometimes mixed with other enemies and sometimes mixed with each other. Suffice to say, Magic Ward was my favorite spell in Undercity East.
Eventually, I got to the exit and to the save point, so I could breathe more easily.
New Spell: Teleport
The Lich gave me the Teleport spell. This is another thing I got confused about. It wasn’t a Grimoire and I couldn’t find it in any of the four spell schools. As I got to the save point, it became clearer, though.
Teleport can be used from the main magic menu on any save point, to instantly move to any other save point Ashley already visited. It costs MP, though, and a lot of it. With my current maximum MP, I can get to several nearby save points, but not much further than that.
Most importantly, though, I can now teleport to one of the two important workshops I know about right now – Metal Works and Keane’s Crafts. Sadly, these two workshops cover all the higher materials in the game, but they this isn’t as helpful as it seems.
You see, Metal Works covers Silver and Damascus, but doesn’t cover Bronze, Iron and Hagane, meaning I can’t combine Hagane with silver or Damascus equipment. Since most of my gear is Hagane and only a few items are Silver and Damascus, it means I can’t do much at the Metal Works workshop.
What I could do is to finally shift my weapons to their proper groups, though. I kept combining my Dragonslayer until I eventually turned it into a Trident, which was finally a piercing polearm. I also upgraded my Light’s Hope katana even further, to an executioner. This, in hindsight, will be extremely confusing, since I have a two-handed axe which I named Executioner, but oh well.
I wanted to turn my Hunter back into a one-handed sword, and I actually did, but at the cost of some damage. It’s now a spatha again, albeit with a higher class material (Hagane, I believe).
I also did some combining with my armor. All of it is now Hagane or higher, with the three pieces of Damascus equipment I mentioned previously included. Since most of it was Hagane for a while now, I also managed to upgrade the types to some of it. I now have a proper breastplate.
All of these upgrades took me a couple of hours to achieve, so I haven’t advanced much further percentagewise, but I did add a bunch of hours to my play time. I’m not regretting one minute of it!
Since most of my time was spent going through dungeons and combining equipment, I can honestly say there has been no story progression whatsoever. I just didn’t get to any cut scenes at all, so there’s nothing to write about.