Memories of a Vagabond is a small RPGMaker game. That's about it. Aside from 2 or 3 aspects that I may like the game for, this seems to be 90% filler content. It's a functional RPG without a heart of its own. There isn't really an idea or a purpose for the story, and neither is there an interesting combat system.
It's unfortunate for me to start the review like this, but this is what I've felt during the whole experience.Context
First off, I got this game for free. I've seen it around in bundles and/or giveaways a few times, and decided to give it a go. I didn't go in with any expectations, but unfortunately, the game did nothing to win me over. It didn't do anything too wrong
either! It's just not interesting at all.
I beat it on Hard Mode in 5 hours.
As with every other RPG Maker game, the engine doesn't allow for resolution options, only Fullscreen on/off; when I go fullscreen, it screws the aspect ratio up, so I can either play with the screen displaced and low resolution, or in a tiny window.
Aside from that, I haven't had any technical issues.
I've read quite a few reviews on steam, and they're mostly positive, which I don't understand. I mean, JRPGs aren't all that common on PC, but Memories of a Vagabond does absolutely nothing to stand out or be a memorable experience...
However, I do respect the developer for supporting this game nicely. From what I've seen, he's been solving problems posted in the Community Hub, and is also launching a patch tomorrow.
Anyway, here's the review.Presentation
here are mostly standard. A few of the objects are pretty nicely designed, but there isn't much to say.
The combat effects look pretty smooth, which I appreciate, but it's nothing mind-blowing. The combat backgrounds have a different style, being seemingly hand-drawn (well, digitally, but you get the idea). They're fairly simple, but it gives the game a bit more personality.
There were also some graffities spread around. These were completely out of place, in this fantasy setting. I'm not sure if they're an inside reference or what, but it seems completely random to have these.
, as noted by other reviewers, is certainly the game's highlight. And I didn't even consider it that
good, for the most part. It's fitting with the locations, but it's mostly orchestrated, which I don't think fits very well with these low-res games. But again, it's good, especially the one from the last Boss. That was certainly a well chosen song!
were, once again, standard. I've had a few interface issues, though. Those problems were caused mainly by some of the mechanics, so I'll right about it when I get there (1).
has probably been my least favorite aspect of this game. It just seems very amateur, the characters have nothing interesting about them (on the contrary, many of them seem very childish), and the story is also a very bland damsel in distress
The game's tries to keep a more or less serious tone (no too
serious, but serious), but then throws in some really out of place jokes.. I don't understand what it was trying to do, to be honest. There was a funny area near the last area, but again, it just came out of nowhere.Game's Structure
In here, you go through Dungeon
-ish areas, and also have an Overworld
, to travel between them. The areas are pretty small (including the overworld).
There are no random encounters! You can always see the enemies walking around, so you can approach them at will, and when you're ready. I think that's good. Also, once you kill the enemies in the dungeons, they're dead and do not respawn. If you're having difficulty issues, you can grind a bit in the Overworld (a couple of levels make all the difference, and are quick to get).
Other than that, there are a few sidequests, with very minor rewards (both in terms of equipment and interesting events, they're completely filler).
There is also an Arena
of sorts, where you battle increasingly difficult groups of enemies. I always like this idea in RPGs. However, the game doesn't take advantage of it at all. There's no adrenaline-pumping ambience to it or anything. You go in, fight, and get back out. At the end of each fight you'll get a pretty decent reward (in gold, items and equipment).
There's one fatal flaw
with this, though. The arena's difficulty is not scaled with the main game at all.
I've only managed to finish 3 fights before the enemies got too strong for the point in the game. I could have endured it, maybe grinded a bit, and tried to keep going, but there was not point! After the third fight, I went and beat the final boss without any problem at all. I had the best equipment available (by simply buying it from shops) and yet, the arena's difficulty was already too high. Yet another elements that feels pointless and misused.
I suppose it was intended as an end-game thing, perhaps. Without an interesting combat system, however, I have no desire of trying it out.Combat System
As is to be expected, you can use a Basic Attack, Skill, or Item. Skills require mana to use, and can be normal attacks with an added bonus, or status ailments. The status ailments, however, are completely useless against basic enemies, and cannot be used against Bosses (or at least their hitting rate is reeeeally low), so there's a big portion of the combat rendered useless. Most of the time, you'll be going between strong attacks, AOE, and healing. There isn't any deep strategy to the combat. Battles usually take no more than 3 turns, with Bosses being the exception, just because of their amount of HP.
There are no phases, interesting skills, or anything of the sort. Everything is just as you've seen in every other JRPG. It does, once again, nothing to stand out.Not replenishing your pools after each fight -- relation with Random Encounters and Difficulty
There's one huge problem I have with it, though, that modern RPGs seem to have eliminated. That is how you have to manually heal and restore your HP after a fight. Most of recent RPGs take the route of each battle being self-contained. This way, you don't need to worry about the time between battles, and just wasting time buying and managing potions.
There's another design route that comes with this, and that's taking the random encounters out. With random encounters, it makes sense for you to be "permanently" damage, making the dungeons tense.
With a limited number of enemies, however, that stops working in the game's favor. Another possibility is making each battle almost like a puzzle. Each battle can be harder, but also far more interesting. Without the nuisance of having to buy and manage potions, you can have more difficult fights that bring you to the limit, without it being a problem. As it stands, it just ends up being a couple of conflicting design decisions that make the combat much worse.
There's also an element to the attack types (with Fire, Wind, Earth, Ice, etc. having weaknesses and strengths) but with the fights in the game, they're useless. The enemies don't really have an apparent type so that you can play with that in mind. It's mostly guess-work. But in the couple of hours of this game, there's no chance to use that strategically.Conclusion
I'm sorry for being this harsh on a small game like this, especially when the developer cares for the game. If this was a first game, more like an experiement, then that's fine. It's functional, despite the many flaws, and everyone learns from mistakes.
Still, I can't recommend this, when there are so much better games out there. I didn't enjoy it at all, due to it lacking personality. There's nothing that the game's trying tell or do, unfortunately.