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   Vay - Reader Retroview  

Live and Let Vay
by Jeremy, the Duke of Otterland

BATTLE SYSTEM
INTERACTION
ORIGINALITY
STORY
MUSIC & SOUND
VISUALS
CHALLENGE
Medium
COMPLETION TIME
20-25 Hours
OVERALL

3.0/5

Rating definitions 

   Prince Sandor of Lorath is about to marry his beloved, Lady Elin, when invaders from the Danek Empire, with the help of mechanized technology, storm the kingdom and kidnap Elin. Sandor will soon discover that his only hope of saving her lies in the Legendary Armor of Vay (rhymes with "die"), which five magicians sealed away over a millennium ago. Vay, a Sega CD RPG localized by Working Designs over a decade ago, proves to be a fairly mediocre title thanks in part to a relatively high random encounter rate and weak plot development.

   Perhaps the encounter rate seems high since Sandor's dashing speed is pretty fast, although given the degree of fighting in Vay, the battle system can easily lose its appeal. Battles are turn-based, although instead of letting players input their whole party's commands and letting them and the enemy beat the crap out of one another in a round, Vay instead opts for a system where characters and enemies individually take their turns depending on speed, and after a player inputs one of his or her character's commands, that character immediately executes his or her command.

No marriage for me! Gettin' hitched

   Commands include attacking, defending, using magic, using items, escaping, or A.I. Escaping, naturally, isn't foolproof, and selecting A.I. will make your characters automatically use commands until the player cancels it. The A.I. is actually okay, since characters will use items or magic to heal when low on HP, although they never use attack magic. Battles themselves, moreover, are fairly quick, rarely exceeding a minute, and boss fights can even pose a bit of a challenge, since I found myself needing to use items often while battling them. After battles end, characters gain experience and money, and when they level up, all HP and MP recovers.

   Despite the challenge many bosses can pose, Vay isn't a terribly difficult game; that players can save their game anywhere (except maybe in two or three dungeons), for one, somewhat counters the difficulty. All in all, Vay's battle system is more than functional, although the heavy degree of fighting, along with the lack of items or magic that lower or nullify the encounter rate, could possibly turn off players.

   Vay's interface, for the most part, is easily navigable, and the "save anywhere" feature is really handy, although there are some annoyances. For one, items, outside of shops, lack descriptions, as do magic spells. Moreover, players can't immediately see while shopping if equipment is more powerful than that their characters are wearing (although the game still shows how powerful equipment is in shops). Working Designs' translation, furthermore, is more than adequate, with bits of humor and only a few minor errors, and overall, interaction is functional, yet could've used a bit more polish.

   Vay isn't a terribly original game, with its plot bearing tried-and-true elements such as rescuing a kidnapped maiden and the presence an evil empire, and its battle system bears the typical commands of previous turn-based engines. That the battle system, however, breaks from the norm of "input all your party's commands and let them and the enemy beat the crap out of one another in a round," was probably something new in the game's time, and overall, Vay is a bit middling in terms of creativity.

Random encounters suck. A lot of time spent doing this...

   The story is probably the weakest part of the game. There is a bit of backstory surrounding the Legendary Armor of Vay and maybe one good twist or two, but cutscenes are sporadic, and most of Prince Sandor's allies lack any reasonable development. Overall, the writers could've certainly developed the story more thoroughly.

   The music in Vay really isn't much to write home about, what especially with the limited selection of tunes, most of which, however, are actually a bit decent and somewhat catchy, mainly the boss battle theme. The voice acting could've used a bit of improvement, yet is sporadic to the point where it really doesn't get on your nerves. All in all, the aurals, too, could've used a bit more polish.

   The visuals could've used a bit more polish, as well. The character sprites, monsters, scenery, and colors don't really don't shine above those from 16-bit RPGs, although the sporadic anime sequences are decent. In the end, the graphics are, at best, average.

   Finally, Vay is a fairly short game, taking only about twenty to twenty-five hours to complete, with no sidequests to speak of. Ultimately, Vay is a fairly mediocre RPG that leaves plenty of room for improvement, especially with regards to its story and random encounter rate. It's better than many other RPGs, although there are plenty of other RPGs I'd recommend before it.

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