|Developer(s)||Square Co., Ltd.|
|Publisher(s)|| Square Co., Ltd.
/ Square Electronic Arts
|Game modes||Single player|
|Platform(s)||PlayStation, PlayStation Network|
Vagrant Story, also known as The Phantom Pain, is a console role-playing game developed and published by Square Co., Ltd. for the Sony PlayStation video game console in 2000. The game features a focus on weapon modification and creation.
Vagrant Story is a solo dungeon crawl, where the player hacks and slashes their way through the caverns and catacombs beneath the ruined city of Leá Monde. The main character, Ashley, does combat with the Crimson Blade knights who patrol the streets above Leá Monde, hunting for Sydney (the antagonist), as well as the corridors below which are infested with foul beasts, goblins, phantoms and the undead.
The battle system of the game involves the player chaining different attacks known as Chain Abilities to achieve large combos and deal damage to the enemy. This is done by pressing buttons in timely succession. In this way, combat almost resembles a rhythm game as not all attacks have the same timing. The player can target different areas of the body, and damage is done according to the part of body attacked and the affinity of the weapon used by Ashley. The longer Ashley fights, the more his Risk raises, making it harder for him to concentrate -- lowering his accuracy but increasing critical hits, though at a certain point it becomes virtually impossible to hit anything. Defense abilities allow Ashley to reduce or reflect damage, or avoid status ailments. A variety of spells can be used to attack, heal, buff, and debuff. Lastly there are the Break Arts -- not unlike limit breaks in concept -- powerful attacks that drain Ashley's hit points.
In addition to fighting, Ashley can run, jump, and push a variety of crates and cubes to get around impassable obstacles, adding a minor puzzle and platforming element to gameplay. During the course of the game, the player will run into a variety of block puzzles requiring the player to solve them to continue the story. When the player returns to any room containing a completed block puzzle, a time-attack mode called 'Evolve or Die' will begin, requiring the player to reach the end of the room, solving the puzzle, in the shortest time possible. A ranking will be given to assess the player's performance in solving puzzles.
Vagrant Story has an in depth weapons and armor customization system. The simplest of customization can be done in any place at any point, even in battle. Gems can be added or switched out of weapons and shields in this manner. Also, in designated "workshop" areas, players can customize and create weapons and armor which have different ranges, strengths, and statistics. Weapons themselves can be broken down into components for storage and put back together in the same or different combination. Most weapons have a hilt, weapon (or blade) component, and a slot for gems. All weapons fall into one of three main damage types: the familiar RPG classes of blunt, piercing, and edged.
Each gem, armor, and weapon piece in the game has additional "affinities". There are six "creature type" affinities and eight "elemental" affinities. Weapons gain the affinities of the enemies they are most commonly used to attack; armor gains the affinities of attacks it receives. What a weapon or piece of armor gains in one area it will lose in another, though typically using a weapon will add more to its overall affinities than the weapon will lose and item combination is usually favorable to the player. In this way no single weapon or shield is equally powerful against all foes; however, powerful weapons and armor can be combined, merging their affinities (and possibly creating a new type of blade or armor in the process).
The key to defeating most foes in the game is carrying a weapon of the right damage type; inherent affinities add a considerable bonus but are not as important, as gems that improve affinities or spells that imbue a weapon with an element are readily available.
Like other Squaresoft titles, the New Game Plus option is made available to the player upon first completing the game. In Vagrant Story, starting a 'New Game+' replays the story using the player's end-game weapons, items, and stats instead of the defaults and unlocks some new paths to new enemies, chests and bosses.
Most of the plot of Vagrant Story takes place in a single 24 hour period, with only the epilogue occurring one week later. The game takes place in the New Valendian Kingdom, a constitutional monarchy divided heavily by a recent civil war. The game takes place in the world of Ivalice, but well after Final Fantasy Tactics. Magic and monsters have largely disappeared from the land.
Now internal political rivalries between the Priesthood of St. Iocus represented by its militant arm, the Order of the Crimson Blades under Cardinal Batistum, Parliament, represented by its own force, the Valendia Knights of the Peace (VKP) are further strained by the appearance of a terrorist cult, the Müllenkamp sect. Lead by the enigmatic and mysterious Sydney Losstarot, Müllenkamp is suspected of attempting to assassinate the king that Yuletide past. Müllenkamp is protected and funded by the Duke Aldous Byron Bardorba, who also secretly controls the strings of Parliament, though his actions all stem from an unknown reason.
When the Müllenkamp cult attacks the Duke's home, they take the Duke's family hostage and make several demands. The Duke himself was not at his home during the attack. In a meeting at 0:24 A.M., VKP leader Steward LeSait sends in Riskbreaker, Ashley Riot to investigate this bizarre event. Agent Riot meets with a fellow Riskbreaker, the rookie Callo Merlose who has been watching the events in the Duke's Mansion from outside at 1:28 A.M. Upon seeing an assault by the Crimson Blades, one which was not cleared by the VKP, Ashley decides that the attack is a perfect distraction for him to infiltrate the manor.
At 2:32 A.M., the Crimson Blades have yet to find the Müllenkamp leader, Sydney. While they try to put out the flames that threaten the manor, Ashley Riot attempts to sneak past a group of Müllenkamp cultists. However, he is revealed by a falling block of wood, and is forced to kill both of them to move on. After overhearing a conversation between Sydney and his second-in-command, the doubtful John Hardin, Ashley moves to capture the enemy leader. Pointing a bowgun at a lone Sydney, Riot threatens to fire if he does not cooperate. Instead of following commands, Sydney moves for his sword. Firing straight into Sydney's heart, Ashley believes to have killed his foe. Hardin distracts Ashley by running into the room with a young boy in his arms. While he is looking away, a still living Sydney knocks Ashley to the ground. Pulling the arrow out of his chest, Sydney taunts Ashley. Summoning a wyvern, the Müllenkamp members escape while the Riot fights the beast. After this creature is slain, Ashley looks out onto a sunrise on Leá Monde, where Sydney has escaped to.
Duke Bardorba hears of the events in his secondary residence in the Graylands at 5:38 A.M. Upon this, he orders his men to burn down his home while pretending to be Blades to hide evidence of Sydney's magical powers. In this act, he is killing his family, to the shock of the Duke's courtiers. Bardorba also sends out a man of his employ dressed in red armor to Leá Monde to defeat all the forces that are gathering there. However, despite the Duke's coldness, he shows warmth to his captured son, Joshua, the boy whom Müllenkamp had captured during their attack.
Ashley and Callo make it to the only remaining entrance of the ruined city of Leá Monde at 11:42 A.M. After an earthquake, all overland routes to the town were blocked off, and the whirlpools make entering by sea also impossible. Now the once-flourishing town is completely abandoned by all except Müllenkamp who use it as their base. The only way in is the old Wine Cellar. Once again leaving his companion behind, Ashley moves into Leá Monde alone. But as he walks in, Sydney appears behind a defenseless Callo Merlose. Ashley, not knowing his partner is in danger, continues forward on his mission while further earthquakes make the passage unstable.
While moving through the dark dungeon, Ashley follows two Crimson Blades who have fallen behind the rest of their group. They uncover floating platforms and other forms of Magick, all created by the power of Leá Monde. While listening to the conversation between the knights, Ashley discovers that the Blades are not out just to defeat a band of heretics, but also to take the power of Leá Monde for themselves. While waiting behind the Blades, Ashley jumps at a ghost-like vision of a young boy, revealing his position to the knights. He then kills both. Sydney then appears in the guise of the Blades' leader to fool some soldiers into attacking the VKP agent. Ashley kills these as well, which catches Sydney's eyes. Using more dark powers, Sydney shows Ashley a vision of his late wife and son, Tia and Marco, killed by bandits while they were on a picnic on an idyllic hill. Fascinated by the Riskbreaker's cold efficiency in killing and complete lack of fear, Sydney appears to Riot, asking where his soul has gone. Sydney pries into Ashley's memories, then taunts that Ashley killed his own family. Revealing that he holds Merlose, Sydney commands Ashley to travel deeper into the Dark City, and to awaken an power within him.
After traveling through the Catacombs and fighting a horde of undead people brought back by Leá Monde, Ashley finally reaches sunlight again in the Town Center. Eavesdropping on the Blades' activities, it is clear that they have taken the entire top of the town, and are now simply wiping out what pockets of resistance remain, though all to heavy casualties. The Blades' leader, Romeo Guildenstern gathers a meeting between himself, Father Grissom, and his lover Lady Samantha. Guildenstern and Samantha both are revealed to not be mere lap-dogs of the Cardinal, but seem to share an ambition to steal immortality from Sydney so that they can live together forever. While Ashley is listening, he is spotted by Father Duane, Grissom's brother. As usual, Ashley kills these foes as well. Across the river, Guildenstern spots Ashley and the two stare at each other in short showdown before turning on their separate ways.
While moving through the Abandoned Mines, Ashley suddenly sees Callo Merlose and the interplay between her captors. Hardin, using some power of telepathy is able to spot the actions of the Crimson Blades, and sees that they are growing weaker. Yet the battle is clearly lost for Müllenkamp, and he wishes to flee. Sydney, unhappy with his sub ordinate's panic, uses his power of "compulsion" to control Hardin. Though Hardin remains loyal and follows Sydney's orders to look over the prisoners, he demands that Sydney never use his powers on him again. Ashley follows Sydney while the cult leader goes to confront Guildenstern and his faithful companion, Samantha who are hunting for the Gran Grimoire, a book of great power. Avoiding a direct battle, Sydney instead questions Samantha into how far she can trust her commander. Using Dark powers of his own, Guildenstern almost cuts Sydney down by teleporting next to him. Without a word, Sydney retreats.
Emerging at the entrance to the Snowfly Forest, Ashley suddenly sees through Samantha's eyes during another Crimson Blades meeting. Samantha talks with Lady Neesa over the heavy losses the Blades have taken during the attack. Samantha shows some worry over the deaths. Guildenstern marches in, and senses the Riskbreaker watching. He slaps Samantha, knocking away Ashley's connection. Back in the forest, Ashley is surprised to find that he has been followed by Jan Rosencrantz, the man sent by the Duke to Leá Monde. Though Rosencrantz claims to be a member of the Riskbreakers sent by Steward LeSait, Ashley does not believe a word of it. Rosencrantz goes on to tell Riot that he is the person most ignorant of the situation in Leá Monde, claiming that every major power in Valendia knows of and covets the Dark, the evil power that permiates Leá Monde. Ashley responds only by threatening to kill Rosencrantz if he remains in the city after sundown. While Ashley ventures into the forest, Rosencrantz is met by a group of Blades following Riot. Father Grissom leads the force to get revenge for his fallen brother, Duane. Grissom is not happy to see Rosencrantz, thinking him to be a double-dealing traitor. So he ignores Rosencrantz's warning of danger in the forest.
Grissom quickly loses his soldiers in an earthquake, but still continues onward and runs into his foe, Sydney. Ashley wanders into this confrontation just as Grissom begins to attempt to summon a monster. Sydney warns Grissom that he does not have the power, and summoning will kill him. At first it seems Sydney was right, for Grissom falls to the ground, but then he succeeds. Together Grissom and his monster attack a joined force of Sydney and Riot. Grissom falls in defeat, defeated in his own quest for vengeance. Moving on his temporary ally, Sydney then shows another vision to Ashley of Tia and Marco. This time, however, it is not bandits who kill them, but Ashley himself. Though Ashley believes this to be a deception, Sydney claims that it is Ashley's own memories that are the deception. They are but implants created by the VKP. Sydney wanders off, leaving a devastated Ashley in doubt over the truth.
Moving to the city keep, Ashley spies on Guildenstern and Samantha who are pondering why Leá Monde is covered in ancient writing. Guildenstern then discovers that the entire city is a circle of Magick. Rosencrantz walks in, expanding on the thought by saying that Leá Monde itself is the Gran Grimoire which the Blades seek. Furious at Rosencrantz for withholding information, Guildenstern draws his blade at Rosencrantz. Before blood is spilled, Samantha falls over, once again possessed by Ashley. Samantha, linked to Ashley, reveals his position. Guildenstern then sends Rosencrantz to deal with the meddlesome Riskbreaker. After a short battle, Ashley seems to have won. Rosencrantz, unfazed by defeat, then moves on to reveal Riot's past. Together they both worked for the VKP, killing people on Parliament's orders. The family of Tia and Marco, which Ashley not a member of, were just unfortunate civilians who witnessed VKP activates. To keep their actions secret, Ashley murders the family. However, he is distraught by the action, feeling that he has killed the very people his order was supposed to protect. Rosencrantz is mildly disgusted with his partner's moral quibbles, and so helps the VKP implant false memories to allow Ashley to remain a perfect killing machine. Going on, Rosencrantz explains that he was kicked out of the Riskbreakers for knowing too much about Leá Monde. Now he manipulates all the powers for his own gain. After the speech, Rosencrantz leaves, promising to not yield in the next battle between the former partners.
Meanwhile, Callo Merlose begins to speak with Hardin over what is going on in Leá Monde. Though Hardin himself is quiet, Callo sees a "ghost" version of Hardin who tells her much. Müllenkamp's true intentions, which are the same as the Duke's, are to destroy Leá Monde. But first, they must create a successor to its powers, which may be the reason why they kidnapped Joshua. However, before Merlose can learn more, Hardin stabs himself in the leg, shutting off his mind to her new Heart-Seer powers. Much as Ashley gains new powers, Callo too has gained powers from Leá Monde. Hardin tells Callo and his other captive, the frightened Joshua to move out.
While Ashley descends into the depths of the Undercity, he runs into two Crimson Blade captains, Neesa and Sir Tieger both furious over the sight of Father Grissom's corpse, which is curiously down in the dungeon. Together they try to defeat the Riskbreaker in a double-attack, but both are forced back into retreat. Ashley follows the two to find that Grissom has been given an "unfinished death" and has returned as a zombie. Grissom struggles with controlling his body while the two Blades look on stunned at the sight. Then voices fill Grissom's head, telling him that his living allies wish him dead. Driven insane by the voices coming from the walls of Leá Monde itself, he runs off. Neesa and Tieger give chase, allowing Ashley to move on into the Limestone Quarry.
At the foot of Leá Monde's center, the remnants of the Crimson Blade force charge at the last Müllenkamp stronghold, the Grand Cathedral. While Guildenstern is distracted, Rosencrantz sneaks away to fulfill his own plans. Inside the Cathedral, Hardin and his two captives wait for Sydney. Merlose then uses her Heart-Seer powers once again to pry into Hardin's secrets. She discovers that Hardin was once had a sickly younger brother, but due to the betrayal of the government, the child died. Because of this, Hardin joined Müllenkamp to make the government pay. Hardin is furious to see his mind pried into, but is stopped short by the arrival of Guildenstern. Injured by an arrow, Hardin is defenseless in front of his enemy. Guildenstern cruelly interrogates Hardin, demanding to know where the key to Leá Monde's power is. Hardin tells nothing, resisting Guildenstern's attacks. Using another trick, Guildenstern hides himself as Sydney and fools Hardin into telling of the Blood-Sin, which Guildenstern remembers as the tattoo on Sydney's back. A sharp realization make that is in fact the key the Blades seek. With no further need for him, Guildenstern stabs Hardin in the chest. Seeing this, Joshua screams in protest as the scene ends.
Inside the Temple of Kiltia, Sydney looks back into his memories, when he was but a child with his father, the Duke Bardorba. His meditation is broken by the appearance of Rosencrantz, who inquires about Ashley's progress, revealing that he had been in league with Sydney and deluding Ashley with the "truth" of his past the entire time. seeking the Blood-Sin. Rosencrantz is not happy to learn that he will not succeed to the legacy of Leá Monde, with Sydney planning to pass the Blood-Sin to Ashley Riot. Sydney does not wish the Darkness to fall into the hands of one who will use its powers for evil, such as Rosencrantz. To this, Rosencrantz beats Sydney across the floor, thinking that his immunity to the Dark will save him. Ashley wanders in, but is caught by surprise by Rosencrantz, who knocks him to the floor. Yet for all this, Sydney still does not name Rosencrantz anything more than "worm". In anger, Rosencrantz swings his sword and slices off Sydney's arm. In retaliation, Sydney uses his power to confuse Rosencrantz, who claims deception. Rosencrantz's powers, while giving him immunity to the dark, fell short when he placed himself in the heart of Lea Monde. Rather than passing his powers, Sydney instead brings one of the Temple's statues to life. Its giant blade cleaves Rosencrantz in half, ending the traitor's ambition in a single blow. Sydney escapes while Ashley defeats the animated statue.
Ashley fights through a massive horde of enemies in search of Merlose. Meanwhile, Sydney appears to aid his friend Hardin in the Cathedral. Guildenstern proudly declares that Sydney had been using Hardin and Müllenkamp the entire time to fulfill his own designs. Sydney and Guildenstern do battle with the Dark as their weapon. During the fight, Guildenstern declares that his true aim is revolution. He wants to save Valendia, which he considers sick with corruption born from class struggle, by burning away everything but justice enforced by fear of his power. Sydney calls Guildenstern's vision "tyranny" and reveals that all his actions were to avoid such an awful fate for the world. Samantha then appears, which gives Sydney time to distract Guildenstern by attacking her. While she is hit, Sydney teleports Hardin, Callo, and Joshua to safety. But just as they escape, Guildenstern thrusts his sword into the back of the Müllenkamp leader. Guildenstern then moved forward to slice the Blood-Sin off Sydney's back.
Upon finally reaching the atrium of the great cathedral, Ashley ascends the stairs to find Sydney on the floor, bleeding from his wounds. The Blood-Sin had been completely cut from his back. After seeing Sydney's true intentions were nothing malevolent, he agrees to defeat Guildenstern before he can use his powers for evil. Before Ashley departs, Sydney means to apologize for misleading him on the subject of his family, for all of the illusions and lies, to which Ashley simply replies "I know."
At the roof of the Cathedral, Guildenstern then performs the final action needed to become the successor to the Dark in murdering Samantha; requiring a sacrifice to turn on the Blood-Sin, he stabs Samantha in the stomach. Shocked that her lover betrayed her, Samantha learns the truth: Romeo had been using her the entire time. As her body falls off the Cathedral, Ashley moves up to confront Guildenstern in a climactic battle. The ornamental sword of Iocus mounted at the top of the cathedral reappears in Guildenstern's hand as the ascension warps him into a blackened, white-haired humanoid form.
Guildenstern, fully-powered thanks to the Dark flowing through his body moves to defeat the Riskbreaker to show off his new strength. But Ashley does not fall. Riot defeats Guildenstern's human form, but then the Crimson Blade erupts into a surge of electricity. Ashley then falls into his own mind, seeing a vision of Tia and Marco before him on the day they were killed. Though Ashley is said to have killed them, Tia and Marco act as his family once again. They tell him to believe that which is in his heart, which is the truth. The scene muddles the truth about Ashley's past to the point that it is up to the player to interpret for themselves which is the real truth. Invigorated with the strength from his family, Ashley goes off to fight Guildenstern's final form, a monstrous angelic creature. Though this last battle is hard-fought, Ashley prevails and slays Guildenstern.
With Guildenstern's defeat, Leá Monde falls. The city erupts into a massive earthquake that tears it to pieces. All of the demons and fiends that inhabited the evil city are killed by the cataclysmic destruction. Hardin, Merlose, and Joshua escape out the Wine Cellar. Neesa and Tieger try to escape, but are followed by the undead Grissom. While the dungeon collapses around them, Tieger holds back Grissom so that Neesa may escape and tell the world what happened. When both are killed in the collapse, Lady Neesa is the only Crimson Blade to survive the attack on Leá Monde. Ashley, fresh with the Blood-Sin on his back, carries Sydney out of the city. Outside, Hardin succumbs to the injuries given to him by Guildenstern. Despite Joshua tearful demand to stay alive, Hardin dies.
One week later, in the Duke's secondary residence, Sydney appears to his father in the guise of Ashley. Together they know that they have succeeded in keeping the power of the Dark from falling into the wrong hands. The Duke regretfully apologizes to Sydney for leaving such a burden on him. Then he ends the Dark cultist's life by stabbing him with a dagger. The act kills the Duke as well. They die together, having completed their mission.
Ashley Riot, the final holder of the Blood-Sin, then becomes a wanderer of the world. From then on, he takes the title of "the Vagrant". Vagrant Story ends just as the story of the Vagrant begins, leaving Ashley Riot's later fate open.
Vagrant Story contains a cadre of characters, but has only one playable character, Ashley Riot.
While initially the game had very little relation to Final Fantasy, recently, with the introduction of Final Fantasy XII, Vagrant Story has become linked to the Final Fantasy Universe. Its biggest link is that it is set in the world of Ivalice, but there are other connections.
There are certainly a few other arguable lesser connections to various Final Fantasy games:
|Sydney Losstarot - John Hardin|
|Valendia Knights of the Peace (VKP)|
|Callo Merlose - Jan Rosencrantz - Steward LeSait - Inquisitor Heldricht|
|Order of the Crimson Blades|
|Romeo Guildenstern - Father Duane - Father Grissom - Lady Samantha - Lady Neesa - Sir Tieger - Cardinal Batistum|
|Duke Aldous Byron Bardorba - Joshua Corrinne Bardorba - Tia and Marco|
|Valendia - The Graylands|
|Wine Cellar - Catacombs - Sanctum - Town Center - City Walls - Abandoned Mines - Undercity - Snowfly Forest - The Keep - Limestone Quarry - Temple of Kiltia - Grand Cathedral - Iron Maiden - Escapeway|
|Break Arts - Gran Grimoire - Kiltia - Blood-Sin - The Dark - Risk - Riskbreaker - Parliament - Heart-Seer|
|Accessories - Armor - Enemies - Enemy Abilities - Items - Magic - Walkthroughs - Weapons|
|Final Fantasy Tactics (The War of the Lions) - Vagrant Story - Final Fantasy Tactics Advance - Final Fantasy XII (International Zodiac Job System) - Final Fantasy XII: Revenant Wings - Final Fantasy Tactics A2: Grimoire of the Rift - Crystal Defenders - Dive II Hunt: The Adventures of Sorbet - Crystal Defenders: Vanguard Storm - Fortress|
|Races of Ivalice|
|Aegyl - Baknamy - Bangaa - Gria - Helgas - Hume - Garif - Moogle - Nu Mou - Occuria - Rev - Seeq - Urutan-Yensa - Viera|
|Regions of Ivalice|
|Jylland - Kerwon - Lemurés - Ordalia - Valendia|
|Final Fantasy Tactics - Final Fantasy Tactics Advance - Final Fantasy XII - Final Fantasy Tactics A2|
|Bazaar - Cataclysm - Judge - Loot - Trap|