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- Vagrant Story
Funky haircuts, big swords, and angst. Must be a Square game.
Something is amiss in the shadows. The Duke of Bardorba has been taken by the religious cult known as the Mullencamp. The deceptively charismatic Sydney Losstarot leads this faction in a coup for control of the land. Now, all that stands in his way is the last reinforcement, the "Riskbreaker" - Ashley Riot.
This is Vagrant Story, Square's action RPG set in medieval times. Everyone know that Square can dish out the FMVs, sometimes ad nauseum. What I find refreshing in Vagrant Story is how they get across the cinematic feel through camera cuts and real-time polygonal action. Reminiscent of Metal Gear Solid, the powerful opening sets the tone. The polygons are detailed and beautiful, pushing out every last breath of PSX processing power.
Music is eerily hypnotic, touching upon the medieval theme with light chanting and a dark, moody atmosphere. Despite the lack of voices, the characters move their mouths to simulate speech, and instead of the conventional speech box, Square brought out the good ol' comic book speech bubble.
The gameplay is a middle ground between action and role playing. When you attack, you choose which area of your opponent to focus your rage. Chained attacks are built upon the FF8 gunblade shot; with the right timing, you can pull off combos. You'll gain the ability to wreak nigh infinite combinations as well as setup defensive blocks and evasive maneuvers, all based on an alert system timing mechanism.
Getting through the castle will also require problem solving skills, as the old box puzzle makes yet another appearance. Thankfully, these puzzles are well-constructed and challenging.
Deeper and deeper you go, exploring the depth of the castle, in a near futile attempt to unravel the mystery. The answers that you seek will come in May when Vagrant Story is released.