Vagrus The Riven Realms - open world RPG, fantasy post-apocalyptic caravan master

vagrus 00

Vagrus is entering Steam Early Access in three weeks. It’s one of the couple of games I’m looking forward to so I’ll just make a thread about it.

Vagrus plays in a fantasy world that had a cataclysmic event a thousand years ago. Dragons, eldritch inspired world building and a couple more unique concepts live next to each other in a harsh and unforgiving world still suffering from that calamity. You are a caravan master, a titular Vagrus- meaning wanderer.

Vagrus tries to combine several large scale game concepts.

You play on a very large open world map. Events on that map and in cities are handled via multiple choice text and story prompts. Travelling, trading and contracts play an important part. Managing the logistics of your caravan is required for survival in the wastelands. Resource management both for survival and profit ties directly into the map’s different regions and their individual traits.

There is a RPG framework for your character to develop and grow in to face the challenges of the game. Your caravan features several levels of participants. From nameless “basic stat” pack animals and scouts to fleshed out companions with individual story and specific abilities. A lot of the RPG system is non-combat focused.

The game has a faction system with various factions having their own politics, type of contracts, enemies and allies.

They recently released a short demo for the Steam summer event. The prologue (which basically is the demo again) will be playable on July 10th. The game will become available in EA on July 22nd. The demo is also available right now on gog (https://www.gog.com/game/vagrus_the_riven_realms_prologue).

There are a lot of stats on many different menus but when playing the demo I never felt overwhelmed. Almost all of them are well explained and well utilized. They have clear and distinct uses.
The art, especially the character art, looks kind of weird to me. Dunno how much that is an inexperienced artist and how much of it is intentional. Overall the game has a coherent theme and style however. Background and event art is great in my opinion.
I’m personally very intrigued by the large and open world they promise. The initial impressions form the demo I found very encouraging.

Awesome - thanks for starting the thread. I have looked at this a few times, and have it on my wishlist, but more because of the general aesthetic than me really knowing what it was!

Sounds neat, thanks for posting it. The way the characters are articulated reminds me very much of Star Traders Frontiers.

On my watch list now - this does look intriguing.

Looks really good. I’d never even heard of this before so thanks for the writeup. Definitely watching it now, and looking forward to seeing what the Prologue is like

Is that directed at the game’s steam page? Or my write-up?
Because neither has literal colons in it so I don’t get it.

If you point out weird sounding descriptions in the thread I would be grateful and I’ll happily consider rewriting them.

I was referring to the title of the prologue but I actually saw more colons than were there. Your writeup in the 1st post was fine, no issues there. I will therefore withdraw my complaint!

It’s what happens when you get old. Everything starts misbehaving.

The demo thing must be a weird Steam issue. Initially they offered the demo as part of the summer event. Then they prolonged availability because it was popular.

Then they announced the official EA release for the 22nd and the demo two weeks before that. But for some reason the “old” demo (the exact same build though) isn’t available in the week between the announcement and the demo release.

Anyway, I have just read that the prologue/demo is still available on gog:

https://www.gog.com/game/vagrus_the_riven_realms_prologue

It has a short, linear and story driven tutorial thing and the first few days of open world play.

Interesting that this it’s based on a tabletop campaign that they played for years before deciding to bring it to a larger audience. Definitely has something of a Banner Saga feel, with leading a caravan.

I watched quite a bit of Man the Maker playing this, and it appears VERY text heavy, but detailed and interesting.

Yeah, the other game that came to mind was KoDP. Going to go look that video up

According to the developers the open world campaign only appears very text heavy at the beginning because you visit several hub cities early. The trading, survival and fighting is more mechanics based as the game goes on with individual story strings giving you direction and tying things together.

The “open worldness” was their main focus of development for the past few months.
.

They list Banner Saga as one of their inspirations but I hope the influence is “inspiration” only.
Banner Saga was all show and no content. The caravan parts were completely fake. Nothing you did mattered. You could let all of your caravan members die and gameplay would not be impacted at all. The only thing that changed were some numbers on story descriptions.

Combine that with a terribly designed combat system made both parts of the game horrible in my opinion.
Taking damage made a unit much weaker. Which is a fine mechanic on its own. But then they also combined it with a terrible turn order system where the two sides in a fight always alternate. The result was that actually taking out enemy fighters was literally the worst strategy because it meant the remaining high health enemies got to take their turns more often. The good strategy? Never land a finishing blow. Just bring as many enemies as you can to 10% health and keep them there.

So, this just popped open… Did anyone bite? Any first impressions? I’m interested but still struggling with what exactly this is.

I just played the first part of the prologue demo, which is the tutorial intro to the standalone story game. As a tutorial it’s quite reasonable. It took a couple of hours, but YMMV as I tinkered around a bit.

The demo was very stable and supported my 21:9 monitor resolution. The text was a little “floaty” but it didn’t cause any problems. One of the windows required the key to open rather than by just clicking on but as the tooltip told me the hotkey that was a problem for all of 2 seconds. There are a lot of tooltips and sometimes where there are none, for example where you can level up characters perks etc, actually clicking on the text line may bring up more info.

The demo also allows 5 turns of the open world game, in which you go through the character creation process. I see there are 3 other as yet unavailable options in addition to the available freeplay mode. I haven’t tried this yet but I will.

The game is text-heavy, with a lot of choices to make & consequences flowing from those choices. I really like the way the map is done and the ability to mark locations if you wish so the name stays fixed when you zoom out.

Your party was represented by a banner on the map and you move on a fixed path through circular points that cost X amount of movement points to traverse - very basic. There are a lot of components to your party - slaves, workers, warriors, scouts, horses, beasts of burden & companions - and all need to be paid (except slaves), fed, kept refreshed, maintain morale etc. You need to attend to this each time you camp although I see you can automate aspects of this. Too early to know from the demo exactly how complex this is in the longer term.

There are a lot of menus with lots of stats; also the supporting lore appears to be fairly fleshed out.

Combat is left v right, 2 rows of 3 each side. Initiative determines order of attack; there is a random roll at the beginning of each round that adds extra initiative to each combatant so you never quite know who will be first which is kind of interesting. It is supposed to be between 1-6 points according to the txt but I saw as much as 24 points; oh well it is pre-early access after all. And thankyou developers for allowing me to click on the opponents and get a very full popup description page on their stats (looking at you DD). It was ok I thought; a lot of stuff is not available yet of course. I did get a very Darkest Dungeon vibe. All the rolls are displayed but I can’t say I understood what was happening sometimes; maybe that will be explained more in the full game.

As the demo ended my comitatus (party) had got some bad luck and was close to breaking point. I would have to play again to see if that was just random luck or scripted that way.

All in all it was quite interesting and I will certainly keep tabs on it in EA when that arrives; scheduled for the 22nd.

I think it got a lot of mileage out of that Don Bluth style animation.

So, because of this thread, I decided to try the prologue.

I like it.

It’s not so much a game as it is interactive reading, with some tactical fights, reminding me of the choose your own adventure books.

You can hurt yourself though because the menus aren’t that intuitive.

There are plenty of tooltips though, but I had to go clicking through the story mode first city to find out I was supposed to buy supplies, because it wasn’t obvious, and also an awning piece of equipment.

In the free play mode I almost left the city without the free copper that you get if you choose to help the southern merchants, and had to quickly reload and sell off my wine and coffee to open up space in my hold.

But both points are quite minor.

Point is I want to keep playing, as in free mode, I found the Orcish gladiator and the game stops just before the morning you get to fight.

I am very intrigued, especially as I can play as an Orc.

Strange thing though, I picked the Human Nomad template, and the game said I could not use the healer archetype, but you get some perk points and can pick healer anyway. A bit odd I thought.

Does getting a particular archetype just mean an extra point in a given perk? If true, means there is not that much difference in starting race or archetype, from what little I can tell.

i’m sure starting with a Dwarven geegaw as the Dwarf probably means a free bit of money, and I am hoping the extra strength you get as an Orc translates into combat well, but your character doesn’t get to fight.

speaking of fighting, the combat is serviceable, not amazing (but then again, there are so many amazing combat games out there…) but I wonder if the animations can be turned off, or sped up, as it takes a while for things to get resolved in combat.

Last point, I am liking the sheer size of the map.

IN free mode, I started south centre of the map, and bringing up my charts shows that cities like Avernum are a long long long way away. I didn’t think I’d like the line overlay of the paths available, but I quickly got used to it. I wonder what benefits there are to simply wandering around. I did decide to play this more as a merchant, so went directly from start city to main city.

I mentioned it before but I just like to reiterate that according to the developers the heavy linear story focus is specific to the prologue, which is the game’s tutorial.

The free-roaming campaign still has storylets but no grand linear structure or singular driving narrative beyond world building. From what I have read the campaign is designed as a playbox for the dynamic results of your interactions with many smaller stories and adventures. It also supposedly has a much bigger focus on the mechanical aspects of survival, exploration, relationships and trading.

This has come out in EA now.

Awesome world and caravan system.
EA is in its early stages and missing lots of content and systems.

What ruins the game for me is terrible balancing and the failure to tie the different, individually often awesome, systems together. Even after only two hours I encountered several “game over, reload a save” events and combats.

Random encounters can wipe you out or cause you huge losses. Profit margins are razor thin and a single minor misstep or bout of bad luck has the chance to turn the game unrecoverably lost.
The game requires a huge amount of preexsisting knowledge to make decisions, which you can only gain by trying, failing and reloading. On top of that even if you have that knowledge the game has a bunch of very random instant game overs on top.

This is not just a question of hard difficulty and an unforgiving world as the developers try to put it. I encountered several unwinnable situations with no ability to know that they were unwinnable beforehand.

I was really looking forward to this but very sadly I absolutely cannot recommend this game in its current stage, especially at its notably high price.
The core systems are awesome and hit my game tastes very well but the resulting whole is exceedingly frustrating. In my opinion the game requires effort from the developers approaching a complete rework in several areas.

I am honestly crestfallen. I love some of the systems and am devastated that what I see as incredibly poor assembly completely ruins the game for me.