Beatrice has a valuable skill – she has the power to heal others. Because of this, the Brotherhood want her to join their ranks. Join her and Scarllet as they journey into an unknown adventure – one that just may lead to a war.
Vagrant Hearts follows the story of the sisters Beatrice and Scarllet as they leave home to bring Beatrice to the Brotherhood. She has the powers of a Healer, and because of this the Brotherhood wants her to join their ranks. Unfortunately, there are some issues within the Brotherhood. This leads to a large adventure featuring multiple parties and the threat of a horror from the past returning once more.
At its core, Vagrant Hearts is your typical turn-based RPG title. You’ll input your actions and then watch the turn play out. One thing you’ll quickly find out though is that it starts to get pretty tough, with enemies becoming capable of dealing a good chunk of your HP in one move. Luckily, there’s a very easy way to help prevent this. Well, maybe not quite that easy, but thanks to the Crest system you can lessen the pain significantly.
The Crest system is the main system Vagrant Hearts uses to set it apart from other RPGMaker games out there. Each character can set up to four crests which will give them access to the skill specified on the crest while in combat. Crests can come from a variety of sources, though they typically will be given to you by bosses. It’s these very crests that you can abuse to make bosses a lot less painful. Namely the crests that give you the ability to paralyze your foes.
There are a few extremely powerful status effects in this game. There’s Mute which is, in some ways, a less powerful Paralyze. There’s Poison which will help significantly in taking down the HP of bosses. There was quite a few bosses, including the final boss, which would have taken a lot longer to take down had I not poisoned them. In fact, there was one boss in a fight where I had to fight two at once that I killed entirely off of poison damage! Then there’s Paralyze. Once you get access to being able to paralyze your foes, likely through the crest that gives you Shockwave, you will want to use and abuse this as much as you can. Nearly every boss is vulnerable to the status effect, and considering how much damage they deal out otherwise, you will want to use it. There’s also Stun which can come in handy for when paralyze refuses to land or you simply don’t have access to paralyze at the time.
Managing your crests well is a valuable thing in Vagrant Hearts. This is due to the fact that you’ll spend the majority of the game with a split party, with either Beatrice or Scarllet in the lead. Unfortunately, any crests or equipment you have on one team will not be usable by the other team. This means that only one team will have access to being able to paralyze bosses for a while, and the same goes for poisoning them.
Encounters in this game are both a blessing and a curse. You’ll want to fight as many battles as you can so that you can get experience and money. Even with paralyzing your foes, you still need to get experience so that you can actually survive until you paralyze them. Money drops in extremely small amounts, and while equipment doesn’t cost that much, buying a full set of equipment for everyone will quickly drain you and leave you without money for anything else. Namely, without any money to buy recovery items. MP recovery items are pretty valuable considering spells and abilities are your best source of damage in this game.
Encounters become a curse when you’re trying to get out of somewhere fast. I never could really figure out how it worked, but sometimes encounters would tag you as having to be in them from halfway across a room. Then there’s the times where you’ll simply enter a room and be forced into an encounter. It mostly seems to be if the enemy “sees” you, however it isn’t really that consistent. You can also forget escaping – you’re practically locked in an endless cycle of encountering the enemies should you manage to do so.
While it only occurred once in the game, I was still reminded of how much I dislike timed events in games. There’s a point where a city is being attacked by rebels and Beatrice decides she needs to heal everyone before you can proceed. You’re then placed on a 15 minute timer – I believe it was until the city was destroyed – and you have to find all the injured citizens or soldiers and help them. There is, of course, encounters during this. Once you save the last person however, the timer disappears and you are free to explore the city (and battle) at your own pace. While I do dislike timed sequences, it would’ve been nice to see this timer last until you made it to the rebels. Well, my preferred option would have been for that timer to not even exist in the first place, but details.
The game does feature some optional bosses, though most don’t really prove to be all that challenging. These bosses will grant you either a fairly good piece of equipment or a crest. They’re a nice distraction, and you’ll often need to head a little out of your way (in mostly straightforward dungeons) to find them.
Vagrants Hearts does suffer from issues, however. There are numerous spelling and grammar mistakes throughout the game, with some of the most noticeable ones being ‘Strenght’ and ‘Inteligence’. On far too many occasions you’ll encounter a complete run-on sentence, making you question if they remembered you could end a sentence in the middle of a dialogue box. There are also a couple characters who seem to have a poorly added sprite as their “background” is white. One of these character starts out fine but later has this issue and never loses it. The other character, a fearsome pirate leader, suffers from the white background which made it so I could never take anything he said seriously.
Each character you can play has their own “unique” thing they can do, with some characters being better suited towards magic than others. I found my best party (when I could finally choose my own at the very end, though I could only choose 2 of the members) involved including a character who could raise the intelligence of a party member. My biggest disappointment was that early on you’re given a character who has the ability to learn skills from what you’re fighting. He’s quickly taken away from you, and considering one of my favourite classes in RPGs is Blue Mage (or just the general ability to use your enemies skills), this made me extremely sad. He showed great promise at being extremely unique and having the ability to provide quite a bit of added strategy.
Finally, one thing I never figured out the purpose of was the scrolls. These essentially grant you abilities from crests, except that they are usable items you need to buy. When I was looking at trying to use some of the stat boosting ones later in the game, I found my only valid target for them was my enemy. Why would I ever want to boost the intelligence of my enemy?
While Vagrant Hearts will leave you on a cliffhanger, the game is still fairly enjoyable. Paralyze and poison are life savers for later boss fights. There are quite a few spelling and grammar errors though, and there’s also the issue with the sprites on a couple characters. I also wish there had been a greater ability to access the character with the ability to learn skills from your foes. It’s still a fairly decent and enjoyable RPG though and is worth checking out, though you may want to wait for it to be on sale since it seems to be on sale quite a bit.
Vagrant Hearts Review Score
Vagrant Hearts is available for purchase now on Steam.
I would like to thank the publisher for providing me with a copy of the game for review.