Where to start, where to start… Vandal Hearts is a game from my childhood which I absolutely loved, back in the 90s times were hard and money to buy new video games was not as readily available to me as it is today however the local video shop rented out a small selection of PS1 games and for a couple of pounds I could have a game for 3 days. Vandal Hearts was one of the games I rented and perhaps the only PS1 game remember renting by name.
Before I talk about how much I love the game I’d like to share my story of playing this as a child as this is part of what made me remember the game so fondly, and it’s quite funny too in my opinion
So back in 1997 I rented this game one Friday night as was the tradition, this gave me the weekend to play the game and I’d have to take it back on Monday after school. Not having access to the internet at the time or a guide on how to play the game and where all the secrets were I had to do this the fun/hard way, through trial and error. Over the course of the weekend I worked my way through the game helping Ash and his companions fight evil and bring good to the world once more however on Sunday evening it became obvious that I wasn’t going to finish the game and would have to return it uncompleted.
This didn’t sit well with me, I knew that I wouldn’t have enough money to rent the game again for a couple of week and there was no telling if it would even be available for me to rent when I actually had the money so I decided to power through and complete it before I went to bed. The good news is that I was able to do it, the bad news was I completed the game at around 8am Monday, this gave me around 30 minutes to get ready for school.
By lunch time I was really flagging but I knew after lunch I had double woodwork and there was no way that I could be tired in that class, it was one of my favorites and with all the machinery going you couldn’t really get sleepy, or so I thought. That day the teacher, Mr. Reynolds, decided that he would start with an hour of theory, testing us on what various tools were and what scenarios we’d use them for, I barely made it through that by the skin of my teeth, after this I thought just an hour till home time, just a little longer, then came out the quiz papers. He’d decided that the second half of the lesson would be a quiz/essay to check our understanding. This is where I fell, asleep that is.
There was no talking teacher to pay attention to, just a piece of paper in front of my, before I knew it I had fallen asleep on the paper and was awoken by a loud thud next to me. Mr. Reynolds had hit the desk with a wooden mallet to wake me. I apologised and explained I hadn’t been able to sleep the night before and he joked that it wasn’t an excuse but he let me away with it and no more was said.
As for Vandal Hearts itself, the game is a turn based tactics RPG which was made by Konami in 1996, I think. The game follows a small group (3) of members of heroes which gradually grows to an almost unmanageable (12) mess.
A lot of the characters aren’t particularly well developed, they have brief patches of story when they join you but beyond that there isn’t really much growth for them, it would have been nice if there were a number of side missions where you get a glimpse back on them to find what brought them to the point where you met them and possibly a few missions post meeting them where you get a bit more progression for them.
The game itself however plays really well, there is a good range of choice in role progression for each of the characters however after their first choice they are kind of locked in to their path, the combat system works quite well and there is a great deal of tactical thinking required to beat each of the stages while getting the treasures and keeping as many people alive as possible.
Overall I’d still say that this is a great game which has remained fun and challenging to this day. I’d also highly recommend it to anyone who hasn’t played it as it really is a fantastic play.