Know Your Role #5-Vagrant Story

It’s a new dawn, a new day here at Retro Obscura, where we have so much awesome, it needs two part podcasts just to fit it all in. If you can imagine a world where only extra small flannel shirts, Barry Manilow (NOT White), and elementary school desks NOT lawn chairs are supplied when waiting for Texas barbecue, you can understand the balance of both joy and struggle, but I digress. In this, the year 2016, your faithful scribe will be looking at the Playstation RPG, Vagrant Story, a title I truly haven’t played before, and after quite the outing with it I feel I’m suitable enough for the standards set forth by The Retro Junkies Constitution, Declaration Of Obscura, and Treaty For Coin Insertion (You stop that, Kyle!) to review said game.

Seriously, Kyle, curb that addiction, treaty or no treaty!
Seriously, Kyle, curb that addiction, treaty or no treaty!

Now if I may channel my inner Twilight Zone voice, imagine if you will a world, a world where it’s 2000 and people are in mass hysteria wondering just why they wasted their time and money preparing for Y2K, which isn’t even a quarter entertaining as Y2J..

That's right, baby!!
That’s right, baby!!

And there comes a game from the same people who brought you Final Fantasy Tactics, called Vagrant Story, but the question is just what is the story about, and, like Final Fantasy Tactics, is it a game you’re getting yet you really didn’t ask for it? That’s life sometimes, you wake up, you fire up your laptop, and there it is, on your Facebook feed, staring right back at you, that thing you never asked for.

Voldemo-I mean my ex. *NOTE: For realz kids, worst decision of my life.
Voldemo-I mean my ex. *NOTE: For realz kids, worst decision of my life.
It's vagrant..and a story..yep.
It’s vagrant..and a story..yep.

Sound: 8
There’s no question that Vagrant Story has a very well done soundtrack, and we would expect nothing less from the folks at Square Enix, with the same masterminds behind the Final Fantasy Tactics behind this one. What I was personally surprised by were the sheer amount of dark, brooding, and ominous tunes that were commonplace in this title, but there were enough ethereal and poignant tunes sprinkled in as well. My personal issue with the soundtrack is within those commonplace brooding tunes the problem of many of them sounding too similar, and in some ways the same could be said for the ethereal music as well, but the true problem there is the lack of them. I am fully aware of the story of this game, as Vagrant Story is an RPG cat and mouse game, very cerebral and psychotic in many ways, but that being said, when you’re playing a Square Enix game, you expect a solid variety of tunes, something for everyone, and in that aspect I didn’t find Vagrant Story’s soundtrack completely satisfying. Additionally, the absence of voice acting, reading these cute little comic style threads, really hurt the ability to get truly immersed in the game, and I could say the same thing for the ever grating and overabundance of the groaning and monstrous sounds at times in the game. It’s one thing to hear these sounds if a creature is actually in your vicinity, but there were times where I’d be in a room all by myself and hear the sounds, which yes, builds suspense, but is often a letdown when you’re just solving a puzzle or something far more mundane than slaying creatures.

Graphics: 8
Well let’s get this out of the way right now, as one of the first things you notice about the graphics in Vagrant Story is the lack or even complete absence of human noses! Of course, this is probably because of the fact that the universe these characters operate in leaves them no time to smell the roses. That’s right, I made that up.

Kind of like tolls and rolls, eh?
Kind of like tolls and rolls, eh?

Like many games for the Playstation, and especially many RPGs, there are times when the graphics seem smooth and very well done, but there are many MORE moments where you are subjected to the chunky polygons of death syndrome which was running rampant during this period of gaming. If definitely begs the question as to whether or not voice acting would have helped or further hindered this issue. This isn’t to say that the spells and the attack sphere, as it were, don’t look great, quite the contrary, but I think when looking at the graphics in this game as a complete body of work, there were just as many “Oooh, ahhh!” moments as there were some cringe worthy ones. I think, bottom line, like many games during the polygonal phase of gaming, Vagrant Story looks great graphically from a far away angle, and yes cut scenes and such, but when you get in real close, that’s when the glaring flaws in the graphics are quite apparent.

Gameplay: 7
Vagrant Story, at its core, is a very well made game, and most of all, quite fun. The only true issue I have with it is that the many awesome things you can do which were not there in RPGs at the time (and I’m unsure if they exist even now) are so grandiose and abundant that it can get quite overwhelming figuring it all out. In short, it was a game designed by Aaron Hickman to torture me, because yeah, I have two Masters Degrees, but Aaron has a PhD in video games so hey, let’s just aggravate the “tireless” writer. Well let me tell you something, Hickman, I-

hiatus

And another thing, since we’re talking about torture, someone arrest that Matt ‘Here’s The News” Daley for wanting to send me evil Genesis games! And since we’re talking about evil, I hope you’re reading this Nick Stephens, because newsflash, pal-

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My client has prepared a statement in regards to his frustration. While I enjoyed my time with Vagrant Story, at times there was too much going on, like when Rob Luther wears a plaid suit in a paisley room.
My client has prepared a statement in regards to his frustration. While I enjoyed my time with Vagrant Story, at times there was too much going on, like when Rob Luther wears a plaid suit in a paisley room.

Overall: 7
Truly, Vagrant Story was a much different approach for Square Enix and RPGs in general, and while I can applaud their efforts as different can be a good thing. However, I do feel they should have thought about just how many people would be able to grasp these intricate systems and rules that while customizing the experience for the gamer could also rattle those with far less patience (Read: Atari Man) which I think is why it is often overlooked in the realm of RPGs on the PS1 as well as the vast library of quality Square Enix titles.

Next time on Know Your Role, I calm myself down, embrace the Zen around me, and play Legend Of Dragoon, because if Alisia taught me anything it is that adding an extra “o” to the word dragon makes everything more..um..yeah I got nothing.

Until then, I want to say a special thank you to everyone who has been so supportive in telling the story of a dear friend and customer I lost tragically. It truly means the world to me. This ones for you, James.

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