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, clichÃ©d 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.