In 2015, there was a roguelike RPG that took the gaming world by surprise called Darkest Dungeon that captured everything fans love about the genre as well as classic RPG games. With it being such a hit, it was only a matter of time before another title would rise to copy its success, which brings us to Headup Games’ Vambrace: Cold Soul. It’s not as well polished as Darkest Dungeon, but it’s still a decent if tough adventure to take on the go with the Nintendo Switch.
Our journey takes place in the city of Icenaire, which has been cursed by King of Shades with a deadly barrier. Our heroine, Evelia Lyric, just so happens to have a magical artifact fused to her body called the vambrace that allows her safe passage through the barrier. Once through, she teams up with some of the survivors living far below Icenaire, and how it’s up to them to fight back against the king and destroy the barrier.
Fans of Darkest Dungeon will feel right at home here, as there’s tons of menus and options to go through in order to customize your party with gear and abilities while also using them to move around town and push through deadly battles. As with the fear meter in Darkest Dungeon, there’s a similar mechanic in play here where your group will become more rattled the further you delve into battles, causing attacks to miss more often and eventually making them unusable in combat.
The first thing that pulled me in are the amazing graphics/artstyle, which are among the best I’ve seen in a roguelike (and on the Switch in general). Everything looks great and animates nicely, regardless if the Switch is docked or portable, which will keep you entertained as you slog through some of the slower, tougher fights you’ll come across. The music and sounds aren’t too bad either, though some of the voice acting could use some work.
Vambrace: Cold Soul is a nice entry in the roguelike genre that Darkest Dungeon fans will want to take on the road with them. Those less than familiar with the genre should be aware of how complex and minute this game can be – and often is – as you’re bound to spend countless hours messing with menus and other attributes. It has some tough and rough spots to be sure, but the story and awesome artstyle will keep you from getting the cold shoulder from this adventure.