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

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.

This is fully out now. It seemed the type of game people will like it here.

Imma need you to revisit this at your leisure and let us know how everything is now fixed. ;)

I just tried it, playing the tutorial scenario for about 90 minutes before quitting and refunding.

I would love to give it more of a chance, but playing distant from a big screen, I found the UI almost unusable, and it has no scaling options. With 20/10 vision, I could read the tiny text okay, but so much of the UI consists of teeny tiny icons that by the time I was 90 minutes in, I could see that playing would be simply painful.

Oddly, to me, there is a single text scaling option, which fails to scale most of the actual text. It scales event text, which is larger than most of the UI text already, and does not scale UI text at all.

Shame . . . but this is one of very few games I have found to be unplayable. For reference, I play around 2 meters distant from a 55 inch screen.

I have been dreading that. I was so enamoured with the game’s promise originally that the disappointment still hurts.

Vagrus has a lot of awesome aspects but I actively hated many of its design decisions, especially concerning trade and the economy in general, unit combat, caravan combat and handling of failures.
While there is a chance at least some of them were notably changed and improved my gaming soul can’t risk such a fall again.

Well don’t put yourself through that on my account. Sounds painful.

I guess I’ll try the more linear prologue for free to see.

The full release is still getting very positive reviews, so it has found some kinda audience.

Well, that’s no good .

Woof. Too many words. The wrong words, too. Things like “corpulent” instead of “fat.”

It’s okay to be a bad writer. It’s especially okay to be a bad writer and a good game developer. The very best game developers fit that description.

But… know your strengths, and then use them. Make a good game without many words. I’ll be delighted to play it.

If you want to be a better writer, practice a lot privately before trying to sell a lot of words for $30.

(Step 1: read. Books, that is.)

I’m curious whether anyone else is playing Vagrus at this point.

I have been trying it the past couple days, and it is making a good first impression on me. (Not the tutorial/on rails story – I played that just long enough to learn the interface. It’s the open world game that I am playing, as an adventurer) Not sure how much the game has changed in updates, since the negative reactions of last fall.

It is a lot of reading, which I don’t mind. And although I would never say the quality of writing approaches that of a good novel, I feel it compares favorably to most CRPGs.

Of course, I am not far enough in to be sure, but it seems to fit what I am looking for. Less about killing a thousand weak enemies and a few bosses, to gain XP and level up. More about getting along in an interesting and dangerous world.

There is fighting, and you can choose to make it a life of killing stuff, but that is not the sole way of advancing the game, and, in fact, I get the impression that unless you do a lot of save scumming, continual battles will destroy you, even if you manage to survive the battles themselves.

It is also less of a trading game than I had imagined. Profit margins are very tight, sometimes non-existent when you factor in the cost of travel supplies. But the tasks you take on for various factions provide profit and insight (what serves as XP here) allowing you to raise your reputation and your ability to deal with danger, while gradually exposing you to all kinds of stuff you might want to take part is.

As I say, it is early, and I may yet join the negative views I see from last fall, but at this point the game feels far more like an adventure and less like a “min-max your build and go kill mobs of evil strangers so you can kill more mobs of bigger evil strangers” kind of game. The fantasy world is nothing like The Hobbit, but the pacing and the sense of going strange places and encountering a lot of new stuff is reminiscent of that.

I own it and agree with you here. Unfortunately, other game have prevented me from returning to it, but I’ve enjoyed what I’ve experienced thus far!

I looked at this and it’s right up my alley, but I hate it when developers tout difficulty like it’s a feature that would get me to buy a game. Make your game, and if it’s a challenge that’s fine I’ll try to get better at the game’s mechanics and do some research, but when they proudly declare “this game is difficult!” like so many games in this genre like to do for some reason, it’s kind of a turn off. Where is my cool indie, RPG party adventure that isn’t so difficult I’ll never get past the early game? Battle Brothers, Darkest Dungeon, and so many more are super cool games I like to play, but I’m resigned that I’ll never have the decision making or big-picture tactical mind to see them through.

I agree, although I think it bothers me less in the advertising, and more within the game itself. Like the now popular game design where the game is openly impossible to win until you have lost many times, but through the losses pick up the tools necessary to win.

Or when a game contains levels that it would be extremely unlikely to win, unless you did something pretty unlikely. So the expectation is that you replay the level repeatedly until you figure out what that secret thing is.

Extremely high difficulty is not a plus at all in my book. But I think that the claim that a game is extremely difficult is kind of a preemptive counterattack to the common problem that once a gamer has done a little reverse engineering of the game, the game will lack any tension at all, and the only remaining entertainment to be obtained is through weird stuff, often documented as “achievements” which actually scream “This game is no longer worth my attention as a straight competitive venture.”

I think it’s tough for game designers to navigate all this. A game that offers a solid but not overwhelming challenge for a gamer who just picks it up and plays, ends up being rather easy for the gamer who hears ahead of time that ranged attacks are super powerful but stealth is nerfed. And of trivial difficulty for the gamer who researches and follows an expert build for his character. But make the game difficult for that gamer, and it’s impossible for the gamer who just picks up the game and plays it.

I know, offering various difficulty levels helps some, but usually ends up being a rather blunt instrument.

All of which is to say, I too react negatively to the typical schemes to make games ridiculously difficult. But I also have some sympathy for game designers who need to please a lot of gamers if they are to make a go of it.

As to where Vagrus fits in, I don’t know how I feel yet. It’s clearly a game where you are not supposed to be firmly in control of things, but at this point, the only thing that has struck me as obnoxiously rigged against me is that you really need to get in good with at least one or two of those factions, yet it takes an obnoxiously large number of missions to accomplish. And it seems there aren’t enough such missions on the map. Need more rep to get more missions, need more missions to get more rep. But maybe this is just a time gate that works fine overall?

I’ve found the game interesting and need to play it more, but so far I can’t quite recommend it. It’s like Sunless Sea/Skies but without editorial control, both in the writing and in the systems.

The game does some notable things to stick to theme of its world:

  • One of the cruelest tutorials I’ve ever played. Every time it introduces you to a mechanic it doesn’t give you enough resources and has that mechanic constrain you. I think you can lose during the tutorial.
  • Being “good” in this world is mostly a handicap – unlike “evil world” RPGs like Tyranny there’s very little mechanical benefit to being moral. If you commit to playing morally the game does acknowledge it in the writing, but the economy doesn’t reward you.

Played it some more and I really like this game. Just keep in mind that where the Sunless games are designed so you can’t/shouldn’t grind trade missions, this game pretty much requires it. Expect to put up with some repetitive gameplay.