There is just one month to go till Vambrace: Cold Soul is getting released here on Steam! Be sure to check out the brandnew Story Trailer for an introduction to the game as the heroine Evelia Lyric makes her fateful journey to the cursed city of Icenaire:
Vambrace: Cold Soul is a gothic fantasy set in the world of Ethera. This world is divided into several realms: Edena, home to the cosmopolitan humans and famed for its large metropolitan cities; Sylvia, realm to the matriarchal Sylvani Elves and a region of dense forests; Zumurrud, a vast, arid desert land and home to the Naziri Drows; Asadal, an island country called home by the seafaring Foxier merchants; and Dokkheim, a land in the frigid north that is home to the Dwarves, the world’s unrivaled smiths and tinkers.
Icenaire was popularly known as “the Jewel of Dokkheim.” It holds the distinction of being the first Dwarven city built above ground. While the city was once a prosperous trade hub, it has long since fallen to ruin under a mysterious curse. The city has been surrounded by the Frostfell, an impassable wall of ice, ever since this curse took hold. Those who died within the city walls returned as mad or sober wraiths. The city’s survivors retreated underground, where they now wage a desperate campaign against the one responsible for this spell, the King of Shades.
A map of Icenaire
Evelia Lyric’s vambrace, an ancient relic known as the Aetherbrace, gives her the unique ability to pass through the Frostfell. Her presence emboldens the resistance fighters since she can lead small strike teams to areas that were previously inaccessible to them. Icenaire is divided into four distinct quarters: the entertainment, residential, industrial, and temple districts.
The Entertainment District is the located in the northern quadrant of Icenaire. Unlike most Dwarven cities, which are stiflingly rigid and homogenous, Icenaire prospered greatly from its laissez-faire policies and open nature. As the years passed, this burgeoning quarter served to satisfy all manner of vices for the city’s diverse populace. Although it is now in complete ruin, not all is lost; the Ghost Bazaar, a vibrant trading hub is open for business. The spooks there are even willing to deal with the living who bring hell money to the table.
The Residential District is the located in the southern quadrant of Icenaire. The ward once boasted thriving estates and commercial services catering to the needs of its local residents. Slums developed in certain areas of this district as a result of an influx of economic migrants. Dwarves, many of whom were significantly more affluent than their migrant counterparts, tended to live in other quarters of the city. This area was the site of the bloodiest fighting during the Incident and its ruins are a haunting reminder of the carnage that took place.
The Industrial District is located in the western quadrant of Icenaire. The city was once a technological marvel, far outclassing its contemporaries. The innovations and practical work needed to maintain such advancements took place here. Cutting-edge factories loom large and maintenance golems go about their daily routines unimpeded. Access to most of this area was off limits to average citizens to prevent accidents and safeguard sensitive information. The city's "heart", the great Nibelung Furnace, continues to pump steam throughout Icenaire.
A city close up
The Temple District is the located in the eastern quadrant of Icenaire. It caters to the varying religious needs and traditional practices of the city's multi-cultural people. The Dwarves, despite their agnostic background, sought to accommodate the diversifying population's needs by sanctioning religious practice in the district. Their plan succeeded in both satisfying the locals and drawing travelers to their iconic temples. One can now find academic facilities and temples dedicated to all manner of religions.
As Evelia, you will be leading campaigns through all of these punishing locations and more - each with their own distinct aesthetic, sub-quests, expeditions, loot, and encounters. We hope you will enjoy exploring this frozen city as much as we did creating it!
After showcasing Vambrace: Cold Soul together with developer Devespresso Games at our booth at PAX East with a playable demo, we had some cool feedback and coverage on our roguelike fantasy-adventure:
Kotaku featured Vambrace: Cold Soul in their article "15 Games That Grabbed My Attention At PAX East" and are "now extremely excited": "Unlike Darkest Dungeon, there’s much less grinding, with overall progression pinned to collecting pieces of armor rather than experience points. Hallelujah!" You can find the full article HERE.
For USgamer Vambrace: Cold Soul is one of "The 10 Best Indie Games of PAX East 2019": "I love Darkest Dungeon, so something in the same vein with a few tweaks is right up my alley.". You can find the full "Top 10" list HERE.
Vambrace: Cold Soul is also featured in "The Best Indie Games of PAX East" by CGMagazine (HERE), in the hands on feature by GamerHub.TV (HERE), in the PAX East Spotlight by The Geekly Grind (HERE) and in the coverage by Gaming Cypher (HERE).
In addition to the press feedback we received tons of good ideas and great feedback from all you guys at PAX East! Thanks a lot - it's very important to us and with that we working hard to make your feedback come to life!
Devespresso Games is a small independent development studio based in Seoul, South Korea. Founded in 2015, the team settled on the name due to the fact that they never had a central office location and often do their dev work remotely in various cafés around Seoul. This tradition still holds true today with the team usually assembling for in-person meetings when the occasion calls for it (but, usually when one member happens to be passing through another's hood). From the team's inception, their design priorities have always focused on three conceptual cornerstones: 1.) Hand-illustrated, 2D graphics, 2.) Immersive, narrative-driven gameplay, 3.) Fun.
The team gets a lot of inspiration from studios, like Vanillaware, that have intentionally chosen to pursue a creative direction based on 2D aesthetics. They believe that the qualities of this art style are timeless, regardless of generation or platform. They also relish in the huge visual impact the art delivers as the game's first impression. The art and animation of games such as The Coma: Cutting Class and Vambrace: Cold Soul were all done by Minho Kim. These assets range from cutscene graphics, in-game level assets, dialogue GUI illustrations, and much more.
The members also grew up on a steady diet of retro Western and JRPG classics. The team believes it's important that every story provides an immersive experience with interesting characters, plots, and concepts that leave an indelible impression on the player. T.L. Riven, the lead narrative designer, moved to Korea in 2006, where he would later encounter Minho. They began working together in the games media industry, but discovered they shared a passion for creating new worlds and bringing them to life. His journey as a lifelong gamer and working in South Korea as an English instructor would inform the narrative experience of The Coma series and mesh well with the conceptual foundation Minho had created for worlds such as Vambrace.
Hyunho Kim, Minho's younger brother, is a musician with a knack for making electronic dance music. However, as can be imagined, working on the team's game projects often call for tracks outside his favorite genre. He's collaborated with musicians like Norihiko Hibino, of Metal Gear Solid and Bayonetta fame, and Emi Evans who lent her amazing voice to the Nier: Automata soundtrack. The soundtrack for Vambrace: Cold Soul will be the most epic yet, featuring sweeping orchestral compositions and deeply atmospheric music.
Minchan Kim, the brothers' cousin, is a programmer with a natural talent for making games. Vambrace: Cold Soul is his very first title, and an amazing accomplishment considering it's his first outing. Minchan began working on the game, part-time, while still finishing up his college degree. He had never used the Unity engine before, but learned its ins and outs within record time (he had 1-2 months to prepare for development). He'd go on to create nearly every one of Vambrace's game modules from scratch. He's also working on the team's newest title, The Coma 2: Vicious Sisters, and focusing on a new, exciting killer AI.
Vambrace: Cold Soul represents a big departure from the team's first title, The Coma: Cutting Class. This time around, the team is focused on creating an epic story, featuring 25-30+ hours of replayable dungeon crawling, 10 character classes, and multiple endings. According to T.L. Riven, "This really represents the culmination of everything we learned from working on The Coma: Recut. We took those lessons to heart and made everything more expansive, deeper, and content rich. This game is for people who enjoy deep, fantasy stories and lore, punishing roguelite gameplay, and beautiful art. It's a real love letter to the JRPGs we grew up with and newer indie titles like, FTL, that have heavily inspired Vambrace's mechanics."
Vambrace: Cold Soul will be available on May 28th for Steam on PC, Mac, and Linux.
We know you’re anticipating the release of Vambrace: Could Soul and wish to dive into the World of Lyric and her companions as soon as possible. At the same time, we want you to emerge in this adventure to the fullest, without any bugs or issues and everything in order as we had in mind.
We’re proud of the accomplishments the game has already made and the awesome impact it made at PAX and GDC to those who played it!
So in order to polish the game further and have it shine as much as possible, we’ve decided to delay Vambrace for one more month to the 28th May!
We’re looking forward to share more info about Vambrace: Cold Soul until then!
"When we sat down and started discussing this world, I was amazed by the volume of art that Minho had already made. He had hundreds of sketches and colored pictures of settings, characters, creatures, and items. It was easy to get a grasp of this place that had, for the most part, only existed in his imagination."
Tristan began work on a solid story within this setting. The most important features to weave into the new game were the underground city of Dalearch, the frozen city of Icenaire, the Green Flame (the game's primary antagonists), and certain key characters (such as Zaquard).
He tactfully incorporated these elements into the narrative and then worked with Minho to craft the world's update look. Vambrace: Cold Soul is the culmination of all this effort. Our team takes great pride in the fact that we have chosen to focus on narrative-driven, hand-illustrated games. But one need only look at some of the old art to see what inspired the atmosphere and style of the soon to be released game thanks to Headup and Devespresso Games.
PAX East is around the corner, there is only one week to go! If you want to take a deeper look and get your hands on the roguelike fantasy-adventure set of Vambrace: Cold Soul, let's meet in Boston! You find us at booth #23078 on the main floor!
Vambrace: Cold Soul has been a long time coming. That is, the original concept is nearly 19 years in the making. In his youth, Minho Kim, our lead artist and CEO of Devespresso Games, often worked on the conjured world of Icenaire as a form of escapism. He populated the realm with a variety of interesting characters and dramatic events.
Most elements were loosely connected, while others found more solid form through discussions in Korean online forums. In there, he shared his art with other high-fantasy enthusiasts. They eagerly contributed to this ever evolving patchwork world. He even illustrated avatars for the most dedicated participants. Through the years, he honed his skill with pen and pencil. And though he would work on many new projects, Icenaire would remain a fond one. He eventually moved into the esoteric realm of game development.
Tristan Lee Riven our game designer and COO at Devespresso Games recounts the dramatic shift. "I somehow managed to convince Minho to join me in this harebrained attempt to make our own game. That's despite the fact we had no experience or knowledge of how to do so under our belts."
The two had met in Seoul, South Korea, when Tristan happened to walk by and see Minho working on some drawings. "I invited him for a coffee and we had a discussion about his art and some of my own ideas. Everything clicked right away. We both just enjoyed the creative process of making new worlds together," Tristan recalled. The team eventually managed to figure out the complex logistics of shipping an actual game. After completing their first title, The Coma: Cutting Class, Minho's new priority was returning to the land of Icenaire he had been working on for so long.