Sunday, March 6, 2011

Vagrant Story, Best Deal ever made Part 3

As previously mentioned VS is now on PSN for $5.99. Greatest game ever made, 6 bucks, sounds like a good deal eh? VS's file size is also fairly small thus allowing me to use my ancient PSP once more to store it. I played on it for about an hour and it looks very good at the small resolution, more or less comparable to most modern PSP games, despite being made 5-10 years earlier. Additionally you can also speed up the load times which were fairly long on the PSX, reducing the amount of menu-wading needed.

This time in VS I journeyed into the Abandoned Mines B1, one of the more bland environments in the game which is still somehow captivating. The upcoming Undercity and Town Center West are both much more impressive visually but the mines really aren't too bad on their own. The first boss in the mines is the Wyvern, the first big cockblock boss in the game. He has very high STR and chain resistance so it's fairly difficult to bring him down just by chaining from 0-1 damage up.

The first time I walked in the room he breathed fire in my face and one shot me, thus spurring me to remember you're supposed to treat him like a dragon and sit under his head. However simply by closing to melee distance you are essentially doing that so it's not quite as odd as the positioning in dragon fights. I used Prostasia and Degenerate to inflict more than 0 damage on him though it still took a fair amount of time to kill him. Originally you get to this point and have little to no Cure Bulbs left from using them but as an experienced player I didn't require them to beat most of the previous bosses so I still had 35 or so to clear this particular gauntlet (and 25-30 left afterward).

However according to the guide I just bought for the game casting any debuff or buffing yourself actually increases the Wyvern's reaction speed, so theoretically it's possible to run around him and hit his tail (weak to Edged weapons) while he isn't debuffed, but afterward it becomes nigh impossible. This is the thing with Vagrant Story, there are little AI complexities that you'd never think to observe but are actually present, additionally going from room to room with low HP will sometimes lower the difficulty of the enemies in that particular area, (or strengthen them in one special case) and of course there's the famous ability to "charm" human enemies by healing them after you beat the hell out of them.

After the Wyvern is the Fire Elemental, there are several of these bosses (some of them optional) who then become normal enemies later in the game, and their elder cousins in the last dungeon, the Great Cathedral (Ifrit in this case). Naturally you simply raise your water affinity through spells and gems while raising fire protection as well to defeat them. Fairly straightforward though still quite chain resistant. The Ogre boss actually comes immediately after that, and this is another massive cockblock type of boss. Without degenerate on him he hits for 80 or so damage (critically hits for 140) and does it quite rapidly while running away from you between hits. Apart from that he has even higher STR than the Wyvern so it's that much harder to do damage. I used my most powerful weapon and still only hit him for 7 or 8 to start with.

However you can gradually wear down specific body parts, I focused on the head, and this causes them to take more damage. If I had focused on the legs he would eventually move 50% slower, on his weapon bearing arm and he would have been half as likely to actually hit me with attacks, the head causes him to be silenced I believe, though it did take the most damage and thus speed up the battle. This only really comes to play at this point in the game as before enemies would die before they were actually afflicted. However for every major humanoid (and some non humanoid) boss after this point you can actively wear down parts of their body for more damage potential. The same thing can actually happen to Ashley, though assuming you're healing regularly it won't (and if it did you'd be pretty much dead regardless).

If you do buy this game be wary as it is not for the faint of heart, dying will become a fairly regular experience, and while there is always some way to kill a boss it might not at first seem to be the most intuitive way. There isn't a great deal of bullshit as in Demon's Souls it's simply extremely difficult from the get-go. However finding yourself enjoying the game and overcoming its challenges will leave you undoubtedly satisfied as you gradually grow to respect and even adore the game.

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