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  #31  
Old 05-24-2014, 06:44 PM
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Originally Posted by JBear View Post


Is this typographical prowess a huge all trend throughout?L
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  #32  
Old 05-24-2014, 09:02 PM
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Whoops. You can blame that on me, and not the game. I don't have any way to capture stuff from my console, and the emulator that I'm using has a bizarre bug where dialog is superimposed over older dialog in the same box (which is why I finished some snippets of conversation in text). I thought I'd removed or doctored away all instances of it, but apparently I let a couple slip through. Apologies. Good eye though!
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  #33  
Old 05-24-2014, 09:16 PM
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Originally Posted by aturtledoesbite View Post
2) You probably can if you took the time to learn the formulas and crunched numbers. But who's got time for that?
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Originally Posted by aturtledoesbite View Post
To be fair, you could probably get accuracy and damage estimates from your stats and your enemy's stats in any game, as long as you know how to get them.
I haven't spent enough time reacquainting myself with it yet to be certain, but I don't think attack damage is entirely deterministic here. I ran though that first battle a few times to play around and get some screenshots, and I'm pretty sure bumping the exact same dudes up against each other in the same conditions didn't always give the same damage numbers. I can certainly understand why that would bother some people, but I like it, in that it makes the game feel less like an optimization math problem with a "correct" solution when compared to FE and FFT.

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I thought ALL CAPS MONOSPACE FONT was a relic of the 8-bit days.
SEE, YOU MISUNDERSTAND. THEY'RE ALL JUST REALLY EXCITED TO BE IN THIS COOL GAME.

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It could be so much worse.


I'll take the low-set ears and giant noses over dead eyed realism and weapons floating over hands at weird angles any day.
You keep that dirty filth out of my thread, sir.

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It also plays a lot better animated than it does in still screens.
You speak truth here, though, so I'll forgive you. This time.
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  #34  
Old 05-24-2014, 09:58 PM
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I can certainly understand why that would bother some people, but I like it, in that it makes the game feel less like an optimization math problem with a "correct" solution when compared to FE and FFT.
B-b-but...that's the best thing about FFT!
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  #35  
Old 06-02-2014, 12:48 AM
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Welcome back everyone to Let's Play Vandal Hearts! In our last update, I killed a bunch of bandits and captured their leader, Zoot Gach (have I mentioned how much I love that name?), who we apparently put in jail only months earlier. What gives? Our heroes decide to head back to their headquarters in the capital city of Shumeria to report to their superiors and see if they can get to the bottom of it.



I don't think that I showed you guys the loading screen yet. It features an adorable fairy flapping her wings.



Ash makes it clear where his priorities lie, but he's not the one driving, so nerts to that. Shopping trip!



I know it's hard to see, but the shopkeeper is rocking a badass facial scar. I sell her Clint's old short sword for some pocket change. There's very little reason in this game to hold onto obsolete gear, so I'll be selling most of it.



The weapon list doesn't have much that's of interest to us. Ash and Clint are already rocking the best sword available for sale here, and as far as the pictured bow goes, I decide to hold off (mostly because I'm too cheap to spend 110G on a measly +1 AT upgrade, but as you'll see later in the update, this turns out to be the right call). You'll notice some new weapons at the bottom, but there's no one in the party who can use them. I'm sure that's just a silly oversight that we should read nothing into. >_>



So consumable items exist. Here's a quick list of what's for sale:

Herb - Restores some HP - RNG:1 FLD:0
Mage Oil - Restores 4 MP - RNG:1 FLD:0
Elixir - Cures status - RNG:1 FLD:0
Fire Gem - Attack Magic Item - RNG:3 FLD:1

We'll discuss RNG and FLD in more detail in a later update (although most of you can probably intuit what they mean from what follows), but suffice it to say, the first 3 can be used on a single adjacent target (or self-targeted), while the Fire Gem hits everything in a small cross-shaped area up to 3 spaces away (which is pretty potent, but priced accordingly).

Each of our heroes actually started with an Herb in-hand, but I haven't had to use one yet, and likely won't for a while, so they'll probably sit in the Depot collecting dust. Needless to say, I don't buy any items right now. If I did decide to though, each character can only hold up to two at a time.



The armour shop largely consists of tiny upgrades that I don't bother with, with the notable exception of this little number that Google called out up-thread for unintentional humour (it's short for Padded Leather, to be clear). Diego started with it, but it's several DF points better than what Clint and Ash are currently wearing, so I go ahead a buy a couple more sets. My whole party is now stylin'.



I can feel Ash frowning at me with disapproval, but after a hard afternoon of shopping, I need to visit the Dojo and cleanse my chakras. The Dojo serves two key functions, and the first of those is tutorials. Info dump ahoy!



Or woman. Silly sexist monks.

"After reaching levels 10 and 20, you may come here to learn new skills. Always strive to find the best in yourself."



"They are: Knight, Armor, Archer, Airman, Mage, Priest, and Monk. You must choose wisely in order to create a well-balanced party."

It'll be a while before we get that far, but I intend to leave my party makeup to the peanut gallery's whim, so it remains to be seen how wisely I'll choose or how well-balanced a party I'll end up with.



This guy's haiku need work. Also, he's totally stealing my thunder here. Quiet down, dude, I'm going to tell them about the weapon triangle later.

"Armor is strong but slow. Mages are weak but wise. Monks use word and claw. Always remember these basic rules before you engage your foe in war."



"If you seek true power, you must undergo the 6 trials just as Toroah. Remember that each door must first be unlocked by a key..."

My sidequest sense is tingling. Rest assured, we'll be looking into this legend more thoroughly in the future.



Ooo, what's all this then? Advance me, bro!



Bah, my brilliant plan, foiled. Looks like we'll have to check back in with the dojo at level 10.



Let's level up at the tavern!



Sigh, fiiiiine. party pooper
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  #36  
Old 06-02-2014, 12:49 AM
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This is our boss, Clive. The game doesn't bother to introduce him, and I don't have much to say about him. He has a very pointy beard?



Clint, how can you get angry at that face? Just look at him. I could fall into those eyes...



"Corrupt politicians, oppressive taxes and not enough police. The rich are getting richer and the poor are getting poorer. But no matter how filthy things get, as long as we remember who we are, we, the people, have the freedom to change things for the better."



You made Diego sad, you monster.



Now that sounds like a fine idea.



I knew I liked you, Diego. Let's get crunk!



Ash takes his wing-man Diego (there's a joke there for those of who are familiar with this game) and beelines for the lady at the bar.



"...council just 3 days ago. They say it was the work of the old royalists, but if you ask me, it could have been any of a dozen different groups. I'm just surprised it didn't happen sooner."

He gets shut down hard though, as she just wants to talk about current events. The boys decide to grab a drink instead.



"But now everything is taxed and you can't walk on the streets at night."

The bartender is equally depressing. Maybe the local drunks know how to have a good time?



"...council is filled with politicians who only care about padding their own nests. Now it's daily terrorist threats. What's going to happen to this country?"



"...turned out, I wonder what he would say?"

Alright, the mood here is harshing the group's buzz. Let's hit the town.



Uh oh. Looks like we may have to literally hit the town.



For those of you wondering how you can have a royal ghetto, recall that the ruling nobility was overthrown 15 years ago.



Man: "The army decided that the royalists were behind the assassination of Smetana, and they came to take Count Claymore away. Things got tense. The young nobles gathered around the soldiers..."



Ash is right, it's time for action!



Riiiight after a quick follow-up shot of courage.



Sigh, fine, MOM.
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  #37  
Old 06-02-2014, 12:50 AM
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Ah, looks like these are the soldiers that the man in the bar told us about. What's up guys?





So... looks like these guys are wearing blood-red robot armour and slaughtering surrendering civilians armed with nail bats. I can only assume that if there are moustaches hiding underneath those helmets, they are presently being twirled.



Really? That's his name? What, was Hades Malice already taken?

Clint: "They're famous for being ruthless with terrorists, but this is too much!"



Well if it isn't Biff Tannen!



I'll have you know that our noses are actually cartoonishly large. /harrumph



"The son of a traitor becoming a platoon leader. What a joke!"



Ash: "Stop it, both of you!"



I'm not sure talking is really his thing anyway, Ash. I think stealing your lunch money is more his speed.



"As you can see, we've cleared the area of enemies. Some are still holed up in that church, but we have business elsewhere. As long as you're here, you can take care of those left in the church."



Kane exits stage right and takes his stormtroopers with him. I'm sure that's the last we'll be seeing of them.



Ash: "Let's go and see if they will surrender. It looks like there are no enemies around, but don't relax your guard."



You worry too much, Ash. Looks all clear to me.



Well crud.



Ash offers no explanation as to how he knows this. Just when it looks like we're heading for a morally ambiguous fight with disenfranchised nobles, suddenly monsters.
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  #38  
Old 06-02-2014, 12:52 AM
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Welcome to what essentially amounts to tutorial battle #2. I actually prefer the previous battle, as this one is even easier, and has a very flimsy narrative justification. It's mercifully quick though, and the battles only get better from here. As you can see, the win condition is not the defeat of all enemies, but it may as well be, because it would be far harder to satisfy the win condition without killing all of the monsters (the church in question is at the south-east corner of the map, past all of the enemies), and it's pretty trivial to collect all of the loot before dealing the final blow, unlike last week's thief battle. Keen-eyed observers might notice that there's a river between us and our objective, which is this encounter's gimmick/tutorial focus. For bonus points, see if you can guess where the hidden loot is on the map above.



But who cares about hidden loot when there's a shiny treasure chest that's been taunting us through the entire previous cut-scene. Clint can't reach any enemies on his first turn anyway, so let's crack that sucker open!



Or not. Looks like Diego didn't get the memo, as he goes charging out front and takes aim. If you knew what's coming, you wouldn't blame him.



Well, that happened. That's a lot of blood for a ghost. I guess he stole it from someone else?

Anyway, the more pressing question is: how did Diego defeat him with a single blow? Did he get a level up in badass since the previous battle? I opted not to buy him that new bow, so it's not that. No, what you're seeing here folks is an honest-to-goodness weapon triangle. Notice the little wing icon next to the War Ghost's name when Diego attacked it? That means it's a flyer, which means that it lives in fear of bows. Let's see what the instruction booklet has to say about this:



Well, that's a whole lotta directional arrows, isn't it? Fortunately, the weapon triangle takes a slightly less prominent role here than Fire Emblem fans might be anticipating, so no need to commit that chart to memory. Rather than defining explicit bonuses, this is, in most cases, more of an indication of general effectiveness. For instance, Knights are effective against casters because Knights hit things hard and casters have poor physical defense. Really, the only relationships on there that you need to specifically note are Archers versus fliers and casters versus Armor, as those pairings typically result in massive damage that can often kill in a single blow. Using the American spelling of "Armor" there causes me physical pain.

Given that 2/3 of the enemies that we face on this map are fliers, Diego is the star of this particular battle. He could roll up that chart and hit enemies with it and still trivially solo the first half of this fight.



Alright, now that Diego's had his moment in the sun, it's finally time to find out what's in that chest. Clint walks over and Examines it.



Hrm. Well that didn't work. Is it locked, maybe?



Oh, I can... attack it?



BAM. Clint found the key, and it's pointy and wielded 2-handed. Yes, characters in Vandal Hearts smash chests open. You might think that that sounds pretty satisfying, and you would be correct. The sound effect used here makes me grin every time. Unfortunately, the loot was less satisfying: that's an Herb, and it gets promptly sent to the Depot since Clint's inventory is already full.



Ash is the only one left to act, but it doesn't look like there's much that he can do this turn. Or is there? Notice any suspicious squares within his movement range? Like say, for instance, to the south-east?



Ash moves over to Examine the suspicious-looking circle on the ground.



Are... are you sure, game? I'm no weapons expert, but I'm pretty sure that's an arrow, not a bow. In any case, not only did Diego not need the bow from the shop to one-shot most of the enemies on this map, but he can get one for free here anyway. Score one for the frugal adventurer!
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  #39  
Old 06-02-2014, 12:53 AM
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The only war ghost in range promptly flies over and spears Clint in the back.



Each of them hits the other for 13, but that's over half of the ghost's health total while it's less than a third of Clint's, so Team Already Dead would be pretty sorely outmatched here even if we took Diego Renault, Paranormal Exterminator out of the equation.



The remaining two ghosts fly as close as they can get, at which point the camera moves over to the imps waiting on the other side of the map and makes me watch each of them pause for a couple of seconds before deciding to do nothing and passing their turn. This is about as annoying as it sounds.



"...and a special tax was levied on them. They can't even vote."

Diego is so bored by the proceedings that he decides to take some time in the middle of the battle to assess local property values.



"...oppressing them just for being who they are. Politicians always make the weak in society pay for others' mistakes."

Clint, meanwhile, is so unconcerned about the flying armoured ghost at his back that he takes some time out for scathing social commentary.



Our heroes seem pretty dissatisfied with the status quo. Let's take out our aggressions on some monsters!





Whelp, so much for the ghosts. Diego was able to kill his target because of the weapon triangle, Clint was able to kill his target because it was already injured, and Ash was able to kill his target because he's AWESOME.



We get two level-ups for our trouble, bringing the entire team up to level 6, which is just how I like it.



And then I get to spend an interminable handful of seconds watching the enemy look at me. That doesn't sound like much, but I get to watch it all over again every time my characters spend their movement making their way across the map. I'd be less annoyed if they were shooting me in the face.



Well, with all of the ghosts dead, everything important that's left to worry about in on the other side of the river. There's a big shiny chest and two imps left to harry us on our way to the finish line, which is that platform in front of the door to the church. But how do we get over there?



"If we 'Examine' the switch, it should release it!"

Huh, what switch?



Ohhh, THAT switch. I guess it was too subtle for me. Could have done with a flashing arrow or two. Not pictured: several uneventful turns spent moving into position and watching the imps do nothing.
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  #40  
Old 06-02-2014, 12:54 AM
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The drawbridge crashes with such a heavy thud that it throws up some dust and rises back up into the air a bit before finally settling into place. I think they know we're coming.



Despite having everyone lined up and waiting to cross, I'm still not able to reach either of the imps, so I send Ash in as far as he can go to hopefully draw some fire while Clint and Diego bring up the rear.



The first imp demonstrates some pretty poor decision-making by moving in front of Ash, which is pretty much the last place that any monster wants to be. I see Ash sizing him up with his eyes in that first screenshot; I like to think that he just sees a giant "XP" with legs, like a hungry cartoon character seeing someone turn into a chicken leg. The imp then fires over his head at Clint though, demonstrating that he's not completely insane. So much for drawing fire. Clint is still injured from the first war ghost, and I think they smell blood.



The 2nd imp moves behind Ash and does the same. Clint is down to 15 HP, which might be a concern if the imps had any hope of living through the next turn. If I was Clint, I'd be pretty bitter that the enemy flanked Ash but elected to shoot him in the face twice instead.



You might think that I'm getting sick of posting pictures of Ash killing things. You would be mistaken.



Diego and Clint quickly mop up the remaining imp, freeing me to do a final sweep for treasure.



I still have to periodically watch this message for several seconds as the screen slowly rotates and nothing happens though.



Ash celebrates his victory by sending yet another herb to the supply weapon. I feel like these treasure chests, shining as bright as they do in stark contrast to their surroundings, make a promise that their contents absolutely fail to deliver on.



Meanwhile, Diego investigates a suspicious cracked tile and is rewarded with a... mushroom? Whatever you say, game. I think I know what a mushroom looks like, though...



The map ends when all living characters (and if you managed to have anyone die on this map, this may not be the game for you) stand on the tiles immediately in front of the church doors. Moving everyone into position for this takes entirely too long.



Bloop, bloop, bloop, bloop, bloop, bloop. That never gets less satisfying.
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  #41  
Old 06-02-2014, 12:55 AM
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"We don't want any more needless bloodshed."

Ash makes generous use of the word "weapon" here.



I'm going to take a wild guess and say that this dapper genleman is the man in charge of our insurgents.



You drink a glass of blood on a dare just one time and no one ever lets you live it down.



"Also, this man seems different than those crimson murderers. I'll give him a chance."

Count Claymore clearly has a good head on his shoulders, and not just because he's able to notice that we're not wearing evil red robot armour.





As you can see in one of those screenshots, the only walking animation that these guys have is panicking running with their hands held in front of them. You... you can probably read something into that. In any case, it provides some unintentional hilarity that is unfortunately a bit incongruous with the sombre nature of this scene.



"...my responsibility. Please do not blame anyone else."

The way that the dialogue bounces back and forth between top and bottom plays just fine when you're seeing it happen in real-time, but it makes screen-shotting these scenes a bit awkward at times.

Ash: "We have laws here. It's not for me to decide... but I will report that you offered us no resistance."
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  #42  
Old 06-02-2014, 12:56 AM
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Kane didn't suddenly decide to get reflective here; the characters is this game blink rather often. I swear that they wait for me to hit the capture key.



Ash is always ready with an insightful observation.



"But we'll assume control from this point on!"



Looks like Ash knows how to emote after all.





Even though I did manage to capture it mid-animation, it's still not really clear from a still screen: Kane draws his thumb across his neck here. Have I mentioned that I really like the animations in the game? No? I really like the animations in this game.






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  #43  
Old 06-02-2014, 12:57 AM
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I'm going to enjoy this. Time for Kane to get what's coming to him.



Dang.



I'm pretty sure that's what I was about to do, Clive.



"The Crimson Guard is already in enough trouble with the council. More trouble and even your dad, Hel Spites, won't be able to help."

Ah, so the politician (with the cartoonishly evil name) who's in charge of his unit is also his boss. That explains so much. Nepotism at its finest!

Kane: "Save your hollow threats for someone else... but I will be a big man and forget your rude words to me today. However, I'm taking this old blueblood with me!"



We cool, bro? Cool.






Oh! You must be evil!

Seriously though, just look at that smile. I'm pretty sure that his fingers are steepled just below that headshot.



Clive: "Dolf has been sent out as a mediator to deal with yesterday's incident."



So you're scared of your smile too?

Dolf and Ash are about to exchange giant walls of text, so I'm going to drop the screen-shots for the next bit. Just imagine periodic creepy smiles.

Dolf: "The Crimson Guards were completely at fault in yesterday's massacre. Normally there would be need for a mediator in a case like this, but there are a few complications. As you know, the Crimson Guards are the pet project of Hel Spites, the Minister of Defense. Hel's tactics may be questionable, but his power and influence in the council are not. I personally think that he is a dangerous man who needs to be watched. Two council members are competing to become head. Hel Spites and Renaldo Castille, who is as you know the head of the Domestic Security Forces, your boss. See the pattern?"

Ash: "You're saying its more than just a personal grudge between us and the Crimson Guard. Do you think it could escalate into a confrontation between the DSF and the army?!"

Dolf: "Well... let's not be overly pessimistic. But we need to act swiftly to avoid future trouble."

Ash: "So what do you want us to do?"

Dolf: "As punishment we'll send you on leave away from your policing duties here in the capital. But that's just to establish your cover! The truth is that I have a top secret assignment for you..."

An off-the-books mission from a shady-looking politician? What could possibly go wrong?
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  #44  
Old 06-02-2014, 01:04 AM
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Time for Ash to brief the rest of the team.



Diego: "Of course. The greatest hero of our country! Why?"

Diego looks optimistic. I don't have the heart to tell him any differently.




"...with a squad of hand-picked soldiers and he hasn't been seen since."

Hrm, why does that sound familiar?



Enh, I'm sure it'll come to me.



"...acting on secret orders from Hel who was planning a coup d'etat."

Clint: "That guy is out of control."

Diego: "And he wants us to investigate that, huh..."



"I don't think he would just blindly follow Hel Spites' orders..."



You and me both, Clive.



"It might be a wise idea not to accept this assignment..."

Clive is a smart man.

Ash: "No. I'm going to go. If we stay here we may cause trouble for you. You've been a good friend to me."

Clive: "Ash, that's not why I had you assigned here!"



I dunno Ash, I'm pretty sure I could manage that just fine.



Client and Diego, as always, have Ash's back.



"...assignment. I want you to be careful every step of the way."

And that's the end of our mission briefing. But we have one more important stop to make before departing.



Ale! In my mouth! I mean, we're fine, thanks. Ale?



"Someone like Hel Spites who knows how to crack down on the bad guys!"

Look, I'll vote for whoever you like if someone puts a drink in my hand. We've seen some nasty shit recently, and right now I'd like a tavern with less politics and more carousing. Maybe the lady to your left knows how to have some fun?



"...but somehow I feel that this country is going in the wrong direction."

I guess not. This must be an election year or something. What are the odds that the old-timer at the back doesn't also want to talk politics?



"...this country's problems. The people came together to overthrow the Ashah Dynasty, but afterwards they had no direction and fell into complacency."

Yeah, that's what I thought. *sigh* I guess we may as well get our drinks to go and get started on our journey.



Oh, I almost forgot: I wonder what that mushroom we found during the last battle is used for?



Why do we even have item descriptions?



Next Time: ???
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  #45  
Old 06-02-2014, 11:17 AM
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Originally Posted by JBear View Post
"They are: Knight, Armor, Archer, Airman, Mage, Priest, and Monk. You must choose wisely in order to create a well-balanced party."

It'll be a while before we get that far, but I intend to leave my party makeup to the peanut gallery's whim, so it remains to be seen how wisely I'll choose or how well-balanced a party I'll end up with.
Airman ga Taoesenai

Everyone must be Airman
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  #46  
Old 06-02-2014, 01:14 PM
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Sadly, you can't make everyone an airman. (Plus aren't they called Hawknights everywhere but that one dialog box?) Spoiler tagging the rest of this because I'm sure JBear's looking forward to elaborating once it comes up but... There's 4 base classes (plus Ash), and each has just two promotion options. Just going purely from memory, and putting things in D&Dish terms, you get eventually end up with Ash, 3 Fighters, 4 Rogues, 2 Arcanes, and 2 Divines. Fighters get to prioritize offense or defense, Arcanes and Divines can become the totally worthless instantly regretted garbage class monk or stay amazingly awesome as Mages/Clerics.

Rogues though have a really interesting choice involved, not only because you're potentially changing them from scissors to paper, but because Hawkmen are amazingly cool and vital and zoom all over the map picking up treasure and reaching places no other character can (with stuff in those places you need to get the crazy endgame bonus thing), archers get pretty impressive attack range (but can't fire diagonally), and get some pretty sweet sniper perches on a few maps it's nice to take advantage of.


I want to firmly establish though that when the time comes, you damn well better make Darius a Hawknight and Kira an Archer, because their end game sprites are way too great to not see.
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  #47  
Old 06-02-2014, 02:37 PM
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Airman ga Taoesenai

Everyone must be Airman
These were literally the first words I thought when I saw that class.

...Except in English.
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  #48  
Old 06-02-2014, 04:45 PM
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Originally Posted by Mogri View Post
Airman ga Taoesenai

Everyone must be Airman
Also, I like the story of this game. Not that deep in the end, but it at least tries to be political.

And the bloodfountains are awesome. They were always a silly joy to watch.
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  #49  
Old 06-13-2014, 09:06 PM
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Hey there everyone! Welcome back to Let's Play Vandal Hearts! In our last episode, we watched helplessly as Kane, the sociopathic son of Hel Spites, the Minister of Defense, used his own personal death squad to slaughter a church full of rebellious former nobles after we had accepted their peaceful surrender. Then, another politician by the name of Dolf Crowley sent us on an off-the-books mission to a distant island to investigate the disappearance of General Magnus Dunbar, hero of the revolutionary war. We join our heroes as they pass through the ruins of an old palace on the way to their destination...



"This magnificent palace was burned to the ground. Even now, when it grows dark, the spirits of the dead haunt this place."

Diego: "Hey, cut it out! You're giving me the creeps!"

Clint, what have I told you about picking on Diego?



See, that creepy disembodied voice doesn't like you picking on him either. Note that there's a pretty cool audio effect accompanying the voice; it's appropriately ethereal.



I love the way that Diego starts panicking and looking around here. These guys have so many different frames of animation.



Oh, I guess we won't enter here then. Let's go around, guys!



Or... not? Ash ain't afraid of no ghosts!



See, look, Ash is right. There's nothing to be afraid of, Diego.



. . .

Why does this keep happening to us?
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  #50  
Old 06-13-2014, 09:07 PM
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Welcome to battle #3. As you can see, we have the simple victory/loss conditions again, but there's a couple of new gimmicks that appears in this battle to add some spice. Unfortunately, I'm not offering any bonus points for picking out the hidden item in this battle, as it's re-using the same tile as one of the hidden items in battle #1. You can see it near the S-E corner of the map if you squint.

I'll be splitting up the party here into two groups of roughly equal strength and sending them in opposite directions. That means Ash will be heading north while Client and Diego will be heading south-east. And the sad part of that is, if I had to decide which of those two groups was stronger, I'd probably choose Ash.



The first new gimmick is that this encounter actually offers a modicum of challenge. These clay golems mean business. At level 6, they're the same level as our party, whereas the monsters in the previous battle were level TWO. And besides the significant step up in power, we're also pretty badly out-numbered here, with 8 golems in total. Fortunately, they're pretty evenly staggered across the map, so we don't have to fight very many at once.



Only one golem starts in range of our party, so Diego steps up to test the waters and plink at it, in hopes of leaving it weak enough for a melee attack to finish it off.



Hrm. Unfortunately, that's probably not going to cut it. These golems are offering some stiff competition.



Clint is close enough to reach the golem's side for some extra damage, but that would put him in range of his friend here, so I decide to play it safe and hit him in the face instead.



I'm pleased to note that the few points of extra damage from a side attack wouldn't have been enough to make a difference here, so I made the right decision.



The golem retaliates by drawing back his fist, shaking it around menacingly for a moment, and then punching Clint in the face. Animations, great, etc. You know the drill by this point.



Ash can't get close enough to finish the golem off (and I'm not sure I'd want him to take the XP even if he were close enough), so I start sending him the other way and plant him to meet the northern golem's attack head-on.
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Old 06-13-2014, 09:09 PM
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We haven't even started the 2nd turn, and Clint is already below half health. These guys are not screwing around. Will I finally have to use an Herb in this battle? (spoiler: no)



Clint's counter-attack finishes the first golem off in an explosion of rocks, for which he gains a level and, notably, some health, since characters gain health equal to the increase in their max HP on level-up. Remember kids: ghosts bleed, but golems don't. Science! (Seriously though, this death animation is pretty cool. I just wish that they'd thought to give the ghosts something distinctive as well.)



The golem to the north hops down the stairs and prepares to sock Ash in the face.



Hah! Finally! A block, captured in all its glory. Ash took that clay fist on his shield like a boss.



I love the way that Ash narrows his eyes before he attacks. You can just tell that he is going to fuck that golem up.



Thankfully, the distant golems all pass their turns, but the one closest to Clint and Diego moves over to meet them.



So, with Clint already this badly hurt and these golems taking 3 hits each to kill, how am I going to get through the rest of this battle without using an Herb?



By wasting a far more valuable item! Let's see what this Mad Book does.





Awesome! Looks like it paralyzes a single target. I think I did a pretty good job of capturing it here, but a series of pulsating glyphs drop down from the top of screen and wrap the golem up, while a voice plays of what sounds like a miniature newscaster speaking in tongues. Paralyze lasts for a few turns and renders the victim unable to act in any way (which, among other things, means no counter-attacks).



Diego decides to capitalize on this situation by shooting him in the back at point-blank range, and snags a level up in the process.
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Old 06-13-2014, 09:10 PM
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Ash gonna Ash. He too gains a level, bumping our entire team up to level 7.



On the enemy turn, these two golems are the only ones to move, rushing forward to meet Client & Diego and stopping underneath this aqueduct. It may be worth noting that water is constantly pouring out of it into the basin, but given that the environments in this game are sinfully ugly, I try not to draw too much attention to them.





Diego and Client easily finish off the helpless golem. I considered several different rock jokes here, but wasn't satisfied with any of them. Please kindly insert your own.



Ash just inches up the stairs a little to put himself in position to help me show off something cool next turn. GET EXCITE!



One of the enemy golems heads in Ash's direction and picks a very poor place to stand...

Although, come to think, anywhere near Ash is a poor place to stand.



The other two head towards Diego and Clint, but only one of them can get close enough to attack. He and Diego exchange blows.





In an impressive display of willpower, Clint helps Diego finish off the golem rather than busting open that tantalizing glowing chest. Soon Clint, soon.



And now Ash is going to help us introduce this battle's gimmick: pushable stuff! I just sidle him up to this boulder and choose 'Push'...



Let's rock and roll! (Looks like I managed to find a joke after all.)

With a mighty pushkick, Ash sends the boulder rolling down the stairs until it hits that yellow box and explodes. Anything caught in its path (like our friend the golem there, barely visible being crushed on that first screen) takes half of its HP in damage. Note, however, that unlike most actions in this game, doing so grants characters no experience.



Much like Examining a square, a Push action allows you to use any remaining movement and take an action afterwards. However, Ash used all of his movement to reach the square he's in, and the golem is just out of reach, so he ends his turn.
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Old 06-13-2014, 09:11 PM
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The remaining golem on the other side beats Clint to within an each of his life, and Client responds by taking exactly half of his.



Ash doesn't do halves.





On my next turn, Diego's arrow leaves the golem with a frustrating 1HP, so Clint stares forlornly at the chest before turning around and using his attack to finish it off.



Meanwhile, Ash moves to the bottom of the stairs in hopes of drawing the attention of the remaining golems. What I'd like to do is have Ash lead them on a merry chase around the map in the direction that he came from while Clint and Diego sneak in from the other direction and grab the loot.





The enemy takes the bait, as the three remaining golems all rush forward and line up for an ass-whupping. Shame that I don't have another boulder to bowl them over with.



Clint versus the treasure chest. Who will emerge victorious?



I probably won't use this any time soon, but at least it's not another Herb.



Ash retreats up the stairs and waits for the golems to follow.





Make it rain, Ash. The remaining two golems evidently aren't too bright, as they continue to give chase.



Ash and Diego are slowly making their way around the map while Ash has all the fun. Eagle-eyed viewers will notice a suspicious-looking tile just to the south of my cursor.
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  #54  
Old 06-13-2014, 09:12 PM
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The damage that the golems have been dealing to Ash is actually starting to add up, so he remains in place and calls for some faerie assistance.



I'll chalk it up to a lack of graphical fidelity that we can't see those two golems weeping softly and questioning the futility of existence.



The heal also nets Ash a level-up, just to rub salt in the wound.



Ash blocks the next attack. Now he's just being a dick. I'm starting to root for the golems here.



I almost forgot to search the conspicuous dirt circle on my way by. It nets me a Fire Gem, which, even if I never use it, sells for a mint.



Client and Diego are taking their sweet time, so Ash starts putting some distance between himself and the golems in an effort to stretch this out.



The golems continue their pursuit, but can't quite reach Ash. Don't worry boys, you'll get yours soon enough.





Diego is bored and upset that Ash is stealing all of the XP, so he takes out his frustrations on another boulder.



Ash retreats, rinse and repeat.Bustin' mad rhymes.



Move along people; nothing to see here. The next few turns pass with Ash leading the final golem on a merry chase and Diego and Clint rounding the map, so lets skip ahead and get to the loot.
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  #55  
Old 06-13-2014, 09:14 PM
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So, no doubt some of you have noticed that shiny yellow box in some of the previous screenshots, since it stands out like a sore thumb. So what's the deal with the box? Does it have loot? Is Solid Snake hiding in it? Let's ask the instruction manual:



Oh, I stand corrected: it's a crate. There was a similar entry for the boulders earlier, but I declined to include it since there were no pictures. I think the manual covers everything pretty succinctly here.



See, what we're looking at here is a puzzle. Everyone should take a moment and see if they can figure out this head-scratcher. I got it right away, but that's because I'm a pro. Keep in mind that Diego can't just walk over and open the chest as things stand now, because that would require him to reach above his head, and Ishtarian occupational health and safety regulations are quite clear on that.



Here, I'll give you a hint. The first step is for Diego to Push the boxcrate one square to the East. The second step is for me to question if I should feel insulted or not.



Clint completes our little staircase by kicking the crate one square to the North, creating an impressive dust cloud in the process.



I move Diego into position to finally open the chest, but... he can't? For whatever reason, Archers can't open chests. I'd guess that it's because they don't have a melee combat animation, but I'd be perfectly happy with shooting chests open. It'd be silly, but less silly than their being unable to open them at all.



A couple of turns later, I finally get Clint into position to crack this sucker open. Whatever is in this thing had better be worth all of the effort.



. . .



Client and Diego got their looting wrapped up just in time, as Ash was rapidly running out of space after circling the entire map. He promptly puts the final golem out of its misery.



I don't think that I mentioned this previously, but the "You Win" text assembles itself from a jumble of letters rapidly rotating around the screen. It looks slightly less ridiculous in motion.



Not the most exciting looking results screen, but I won't complain about 810 gold pieces.
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Old 06-13-2014, 09:15 PM
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This girl walks out from behind the aqueduct. I was just over there.



I can't decide if Diego is referring to siccing the golems on them or the spooky voice. The earlier would make more sense, and yet I can't help but think it's the latter. Dude looks pretty frazzled.



Well, we have caused our share of blood fountains...



Say wha?



You couldn't have maybe led with that? Don't get me wrong, I enjoy a good rock explosion as much as the next guy, but...



Where were all of these people hiding?



This fella has been taking notes on panicked running from the nobles. Lucky he didn't break a hip.



Looks like Diego has some new competition for most pathetic look. Those puppy-dog eyes...



Correction: she tried to kill YOU. I think Ash may have felt a tickle?



"I am Miss Eleni's tutor, Huxley Hobbes. It seems as if the young miss has heard some foolish rumors..."



"Some say that Magnus was planning a coup, but we never believed it!"

Ash, I think you're being a tad too polite here. This person just attacked your military unit with zero provocation. You sit her down, ideally in handcuffs, and you TELL her your side of the story before hauling her ass off to jail.



I don't know if this is a translation error or poor writing, but, to be clear, we're nowhere near the actual island yet. These ruins are just the first stop on the road to the east that heads towards Gillbaris island.



Looks like Huxley has some fire in him after all.





What's all this then? A choice? Oh dear. Well, I guess I'd better open this up for a vote. We'll look at the outcome next time on Let's Play Vandal Hearts!

Last edited by JBear; 06-14-2014 at 10:30 PM.
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  #57  
Old 06-13-2014, 09:17 PM
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.











Nah, sorry everyone, but I'm just yanking yer chain. I'm afraid this is a "But thou must" choice. The game has several choices like this, but the majority just change the next few lines of dialogue, and this one is no different. Let's look at option #2 first, because that's how I roll:



For the record, according to supplementary material, Eleni is 19 years old.



No, Diego, you really don't.

And option #1:



To my mind, the key difference between these two options is that, in this case, Eleni makes an adorable delighted pose where she hops up on one leg and clasps her hands together, making it the objective best choice. Diego's incredulous pose in the last shot is just a bonus.

Returning from parallel dimensions to our convergent timeline:



Huxley runs the gamut of facial expressions pretty quickly right here. He's right though: we do need him.



Hooray! As with most things in this game, a new party member joining gets its own unique little jingle, and we get to hear it twice in quick succession here.



Diego, he's right there. He... he can hear you. Or, at least, I hope he can.
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  #58  
Old 06-13-2014, 09:19 PM
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Meanwhile, in a dungeon back in Shumeria...



*SLAP*

Look like Kane is here along with Count Claymore and someone in ornate robes.



Yeah, I imagine that this guy already has the market cornered on that particular vice. I give you Kane's father, the unfortunately named Hel Spites, Minister of Defense.



I'm honestly a little perplexed by this line. I'll just chalk it up to Kane being an idiot. My best guesses are that either Kane didn't know that his dad was standing behind him, or that Hel had previously overheard Claymore discussing whatever it is that they're trying to extract information about now.



Who could this mysterious voice be? We know it's not Diego, as he just demonstrated that he is totally okay with mistreating the elderly.



The gate at the back of the room lowers with a rumble and Dolf Crowley enters.



"There is still valuable information that we require."

Oh my god you guys, I think that the clearly evil guy from the previous update might be evil!



Kane shares my suspicions.

"Would you like to take a crack at breaking this old man?"



Oh dear. I don't like the sounds of that. I hope they're not talking about us.



They're totally talking about us, aren't they? Shit. Let the speculation begin.



Merry Christmas?



*Fade to black*


Before we go, let's take a loot at our new recruits:





Predictably, Eleni and Huxley are both casters, and neither of them can take a hit very well. Eleni is a Mage and starts with the attack spell Dark Star, while Huxley is a Healer and start with the spell Healing. I wonder what that does?

I'd show you the details of these two spells, but in an odd design oversight you can't actually inspect specific spells outside of battle, so that will have to wait until the next update.



While I was looking at Eleni and Huxley's spell lists, I stumbled upon this little surprise. Ash picked up his second spell from one of his level-ups during the previous fight, and it sounds like an attack spell. As you might guess, Ash is typically best off just hitting things with his sword instead, but not always. I'm certain that we'll find a use for this new spell at some point.



Next time: Rhine Bridge. It looks to be the only crossing over this body of water on the way to our destination. What could go wrong?
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  #59  
Old 06-14-2014, 10:13 AM
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I haven't played this game, but I'm calling it now: Huxley Healer is our traitor. He's too old to be honest!
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Old 06-14-2014, 12:23 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by JBear View Post
Diego and Client easily finish off the helpless golem. I considered several different rock jokes here, but wasn't satisfied with any of them. Please kindly insert your own.
Hmm... How about a pun involving the word quarry? That's all the more effort I felt like putting into that bit of audience participation.

Quote:
Originally Posted by JBear View Post
Ash, I think you're being a tad too polite here. This person just attacked your military unit with zero provocation. You sit her down, ideally in handcuffs, and you TELL her your side of the story before hauling her ass off to jail.
*RPG protagonists are well known for being ridiculously forgiving.

Quote:
Originally Posted by JBear View Post
Next time: Rhine Bridge. It looks to be the only crossing over this body of water on the way to our destination. What could go wrong?
Since this is an *RPG I'm sure absolutely nothing. You will cross the bridge without incident.
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