VANQUISH: The Oath of Brothers

from GAMEVIL USA, Inc., originally released 5th February, 2010

VANQUISH is now FREE!!

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AN ARTISTIC ACTION RPG

The developer of ZENONIA and HYBRID: Eternal Whisper takes you on another breath-taking journey to the era of the Three Kingdoms.
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Available for Free on the App Store

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Reviews

Vanquish: The Oath of Brothers Review

The RPG crowd might spend hours with a new game to uncover its depths, but Gamevil tried to target the casual audience with Vanquish: The Oath of Brothers instead. This time, they ended up with a simplistic hack ‘n slash game that isn’t as good as their other titles.

Vanquish’s strongest asset is its interesting storyline. Guan Yu, a former Cao Cao samurai, leaves on horseback to search for his brother. Along his journey, he must slay various Cao Cao generals standing in his way. The dialogue is a step above past Gamevil games, in part due to its ability to not ramble on for hours.

We’ll call them “Spear-o Agnew”.

However, the on-rails gameplay is one of Vanquish’s biggest letdowns. Instead of giving you the reins and letting you control your character’s every movement with the D-pad, you constantly gallop straight ahead. As you move up and down, the camera turns at awkward angles, which felt very disorienting and led us into the tips of enemy spears more times than we would like to remember.

You only have a few means of attacking: quickly thrusting forward, slashing your sword, and holding down the attack button to unleash a powerful aura blast. A lack of any combos made the core action of this hack ‘n slash game a tedious and repetitive task.

Another feature missing in Vanquish is any form of character customization. Besides a weapon that upgrades automatically and a collection of items that can only be used one at a time, there are no RPG elements to be found here. Gamevil’s previous titles like Hybrid really shone in this area, so it was disappointing to see them abandon it.

You can be “Brittney Spears”.

Continuing with the lack of variety are the levels. Each shares a common, clichéd goal: slash your way through enemies and take down a boss at the end. Very few new enemies are ever introduced, and bosses generally boil down to henchmen on horses with extra health. Occasionally you will need to dodge swarms of arrows or protect a carriage containing the wives of your brother, but even these got old before too long.

Vanquish’s traditional Japanese ink wash aesthetic is stylish, but also overused. While it has a lot of potential, it never changes throughout the game. We commend Gamevil for their unique art style, but ultimately it doesn’t deliver in the long run.

One thing we really appreciated about Vanquish is that it’s a game you can literally play at your own pace. A speed adjustment bar in the settings allows players of all varieties to race through the game at whatever speed they feel comfortable with. Making it too slow can cause a choppy framerate, but at top speeds it remains fluid.

If you are a casual gamer looking for an action-RPG that is easy to handle, and you don’t mind repetitive gameplay, then Vanquish isn’t a terrible choice. Otherwise, we recommend you look elsewhere for your samurai-slashing entertainment.

Previews

Vanquish: The Oath of Brothers Hands-On Preview

It’s always a breath of fresh air when a new type of game comes to the iPhone. Since we are constantly inundated with puzzle games and shooters, it’s rare that we see something completely different. Such a game is headed to the App Store next month: Gamevil’s Vanquish: The Oath of Brothers. We recently got our hands on a preview build of the game, which solidified in our minds that this is one to keep an eye on.

Using an inked art style reminiscent of Okami (but without most of the color), Vanquish will let you take on the role of three brothers (Lei Bei, Zhang Fei, and Guan Yi) during the Three Kingdoms period of Chinese history.

The game will be of the hack-and-slash variety, although you’ll be on horseback as you mow down the enemy hordes. This is what makes the game so uniquely refreshing; you aren’t plodding about like in a typical side-scrolling beat ‘em up.

Because of the speed of your horse, you can roam the countryside and slash up your foes with incredible swiftness. Not only that, but your movement is not limited solely to a 2-D plane. You can speed up and slow down the horse to focus on particular groups of enemies, as well as move north and south to access different areas. A small minimap in the corner helps you determine where enemies are located on the field.

The visuals are what make these battlefield maneuvers work. Thanks to some terrific parallax scrolling, the depth of field changes to give a pseudo-three-dimensional perspective. The hand-inked look adds further flare to the presentation, and the blood-spattering that occurs as you slash your enemies greatly stands out against the stark backdrops. You’ll also collect different-colored souls to enhance your powers, although we don’t think these will dramatically change the way the game plays.

The game’s story progresses along with the missions, although it seems to be told via text, which may get old for people who aren’t into this particular historical scene. After we spend more time with the final product, we’ll be better able to let you know if the story adds enough to keep the action from getting repetitive over time.

There is no denying that this game will be heralded for its impressive visual appeal, but like any game, that alone is not enough to make it successful. We look forward to playing the final version and giving you our full opinion in the coming weeks.