Sword of the Vagrant (2022) review (Switch eShop)
After launching on Steam in 2017, OTK Games’ The vagrant has finally released on consoles with the new alias Sword of the Vagrant. The game is heavily inspired by the games of Vanillaware; renowned developers of games such as Muramasa: The Demon Blade and Dragon’s Crown. This inspiration can be seen immediately with the amazing hand-drawn art style, and even down to the smaller elements like the animation and erm… let’s call it “sometimes gratuitous” character design.
A 2D hack-and-slash adventure with some light Metroidvania-style exploration elements, Sword of the Vagrant puts you in the shoes of Vivian; a young sellsword sailing towards the island of Mythrilla in search of her missing father. After an encounter with a mysterious owl guy, her ship is wrecked on the shores of Mythrilla. After helping a young local woman, Vivian returns with her to a ruined village and is soon cursed by an evil witch who demands she retrieve magical items or she will destroy Vivian instantly. To make sure our hero doesn’t try to escape, the witch sends the disciple Camden along on the journey to keep watch.
The Vagrant’s story is interesting; However, due to the large amount of exposition between the characters, it can be easy to lose track of what the characters are actually discussing. However, Camden’s character throughout the journey and his relationship with Vivian are highlights, their scenes together helping to humanize the latter and her usually stone-cold demeanor.
Vivian starts out with a fairly barebones moveset, making the early game a little tiring at times. But when you start unlocking extra combos and special moves – through a skill tree that finds items in the overworld – the fight picks up a bit and becomes more interesting. That momentum doesn’t last, as Vivian’s combo list ends up consisting of just a handful of different combos, meaning repetition returns.
There is no auto-save system, meaning death will send you back to when you last saved; Fortunately, this isn’t a problem for most of the game, as the overworld is rarely a challenge, and most bosses have a save point right before their arena, except for the final boss where a long, boring structure and lack of checkpoints easily added a hour to our nine-hour playtime.
As we mentioned, the art style looks great and the game runs well in handheld mode, although it tends to get a little choppy when docked. We also got a few glitches during the adventure, the most common ones causing Vivian to just slide across the screen while stuck in a crouch animation, and a soft lock later in the game where the character wouldn’t stop walking straight into a wall. These are by no means extreme and you hope they get patched, but they did get a little frustrating over time. Those issues aside, Sword of the Vagrant held our attention, and especially considering its modest asking price, it’s still worthy of a light investigation if you’re a fan of rough-and-ready hack-and-slashing.