Vagante game review

Available on Steam since 2018, Vagante puts its bundle on the consoles of the moment. Advocating a love of pixel art, Nuke Nine’s roguelike is not to be taken lightly. Combining action and platforms, it distills a dark-fantasy atmosphere that immediately catches the eye. With its enigmatic bestiary, this title – which is the work of four people (two graphic designers, a programmer and a musician) is a nugget. And we’ll tell you why.

In Vagante, there is no scenario. Comfortably installed in a makeshift caravan, the player arrives at the edge of a forest and immediately enters the heart of the matter. After a quick tutorial explaining the contours of the gameplay, the adventure begins! Before sinking into this dark cave, bearing the sweet name of Dark Caves, the user can choose between three characters corresponding to as many classes: Knight, Mage or Thief. As usual, the first is the brawler, weapon handler and adept at hand-to-hand combat, the second prefers to distance himself to aim from afar while the youngest, and no less endearing, relies on discretion to make their way through these labyrinthine maze. Roguelike obliges, the environments are generated randomly with each game and each death means the total loss of the loot previously harvested, for a return to the sender in the forest. Charming, but appetizing!

AN ODE TO GAMEPLAY

Vagante: Finally a roguelike at the height of the master Hades?

Here is one that will take a good blow to the skull!

If Vagante is so eye-catching, it’s not just for its mysterious atmosphere, dimly lit hallways and gloomy vistas. In reality, as soon as you take it in hand, the game is instinctive and you have the feeling of being able to do everything! Jumping, clinging to walls, slowing down, hitting with his sword, archery, casting spells… the avatar is versatile and ultra-efficient! And to progress, these multiple skills are essential! The enemies have destabilizing random behaviors and you have to constantly adapt your strategy to get out of it. By eliminating from mod, the player recovers currency (essential for the purchase of items from the local merchant), but also and above all experience. This one, absolutely vital to move forward, is added to the chests and other crates to be broken that we find on the way. Equipped with all this loot, the little warrior can then challenge the sub-Boss (each level has one) to recover the key that opens the treasure chest. And thus recover even more loot. Finally, you will understand the process.

Sometimes you think you’re safe and then…

Vagante: Finally a roguelike at the height of the master Hades?Vagante: Finally a roguelike at the height of the master Hades?

What is interesting is that these encounters are optional and the player can absolutely rush towards the exit door which leads to the next level. The problem is that in the absence of experience, he will not resist the next enemies for long. This is all the more true since the loot collected – in this case inside the treasure chest – allows you to spend a skill point in several skills (Strength, Agility, Health, Speed, etc.). In addition to being instinctive and very well tuned, Vagante is dynamic and pushes you to start again and again. Because, it must be said, we die very often!

NO MERCY FOR THE STRANGERS

In addition to the boss and countless enemies, the levels are covered with traps and surprising events. If it is possible to walk through the peaks, it is enough to fall on them to pass from life to death. In the same way, switches are hidden and a step too determined is often enough to be crushed like an insect. You also have to be careful not to hang around in the water too much, otherwise you’ll get your butt bitten by a voracious piranha (or what looks like it) or you’ll stupidly drown. In addition, do not expect to rub shoulders with the merchant thinking of recovering his goods! A simple misplaced blow and the interested party begins to chase you through the level without letting go of you! From surprise to surprise, the player discovers an immersive, generous… and extremely punitive work. The reason is that each death coincides with an increase in your experience. Therefore, the more you let go of the ramp, the stronger your little guy becomes! So we spend our time wasting, being surprised, trying to eliminate the mini-Bosses, and we come back to the start losing all our loot! We start again, and so on. During this time, the XP gauge climbs and this improved resistance allows you to advance ever further. This is the basis of roguelike (even if not all of them impose this systematic loss of loot) and Vagante meets all the codes of the genre. But unlike some of its competitors, the title of Nuke Nine has a real personality and above all an achievement that has character.

To give scale to the decorations, the developers chose small sprites.

Vagante: Finally a roguelike at the height of the master Hades?Vagante: Finally a roguelike at the height of the master Hades?Vagante: Finally a roguelike at the height of the master Hades?

Ah that, it does not look like much compared to the blockbusters of the moment, especially with its little ones sprites, but everything exudes freshness and a job well done in Vagante. The characters, the animations, the environments, the little graphic touches, the colors chosen… everything is neat and moves well! The rigidity of the avatar may surprise at first, but we quickly understand that it serves a gameplay studied in every corner. The music, meanwhile, breathes this feeling of mystery and recalls, in some ways, the first Final Fantasy when, curious, we plunged into gloomy caves. We find a bit of this atmosphere in Vagante, even if the gameplay is more about platforming and action. And it’s really hard to get out of it. We discover new enemies, new classes (Sauvageon) and we gradually get rid of this extreme difficulty. For great satisfaction.

Conclusion

Strong points

  • Neat pixel art
  • Lots of fun ideas
  • A rich bestiary
  • The difference in approaches according to the classes
  • Multiplayer co-op
  • The dark fantasy atmosphere

Weak points

  • 4 biomes only
  • Servers a little empty
  • A difficulty that can be off-putting
  • You have to like the dull side of the graphics

With its neat pixel art and millimeter-tuned gameplay, Vagante is a roguelike that manages to stand out thanks to its dark-fantasy vibe and dynamism. Drawing on the best ideas from the competition, it reveals its true personality as one progresses and demonstrates that a small team can bring a fascinating game to life. It does not have the holding of a Hades and would have deserved more biomes to discover, but it is an experience that should delight fans of the genre.

12.3

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Vagante game review

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