Vagrant Story is a Japanese-developed action role-playing game developed and published by Square (now Square Enix) for the PlayStation video game console. The game was released in 2000, and has been re-released through the PlayStation Network for the PlayStation 3 and PlayStation Portable consoles. Vagrant Story was primarily developed by the team responsible for Final Fantasy Tactics, with Yasumi Matsuno serving as producer, writer and director.
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The game takes place in the fictional kingdom of Valendia and the ruined city of Leá Monde. The story centers on Ashley Riot, an elite agent known as a Riskbreaker, who must travel to Leá Monde to investigate the link between a cult leader and a senior Valendian Parliament member, Duke Bardorba. In the prologue, Ashley is blamed for murdering the duke, and the game discloses the events that happen one week before the murder.
Vagrant Story is unique as a console action/adventure role-playing game in that it features no shops and no player interaction with other characters; instead, the game focuses on weapon creation and modification, as well as elements of puzzle-solving and strategy. The game received critical acclaim from gaming magazines and websites.
The plot of Vagrant Story, titled “The Phantom Pain”, is presented as the prelude to the “story of the wanderer”. Beginning in the Graylands, Ashley and Callo are sent by the VKP to Duke Bardorba’s manor to investigate the Duke’s involvement with Müllenkamp and the Cardinal’s interest in Sydney Losstarot. Ashley infiltrates the manor and encounters Sydney, witnessing his powers first hand. Sydney escapes with his accomplice Hardin and the Duke’s son Joshua, leaving Ashley with a clue to his whereabouts. This event was dubbed the “Graylands Incident”.
Escaping unharmed, Ashley encounters Rosencrantz who intends to join him, though Ashley declines. Rosencrantz tells him of the VKP and the Parliaments’ knowledge of the dark powers of Leá Monde, and that the hidden powers deep within a person can be unleashed with the help of the Dark. In his encounters with Sydney, Ashley is shown visions of his past, where his wife Tia and his son Marco are killed by rogues. Meeting Rosencrantz again, Ashley is told that they were not his family, but mistaken targets he killed during a mission of theirs. Ashley’s guilt over their deaths was manipulated by the VKP to turn Ashley into a loyal Riskbreaker. Ashley recalls his hidden battle skills and experiences “clairvoyance”, seeing the progress of the Crimson Blades, which leads him to the Great Cathedral.
Sydney had captured Callo earlier and brought her with them. Callo learned that Hardin was skeptical of Sydney’s plans. She begins to develop the powers of “heart-seeing”, a form of telepathy, as they continue their escape deeper into Leá Monde. With her powers, she learned of Sydney’s intentions and Hardin’s reason to join Müllenkamp and his closeness to Joshua. Sydney left them to stop the others from advancing; taunting Guildenstern and Samantha, and provoking Ashley to follow him as he intends to bestow his powers upon Ashley. Ashley was not interested in inheriting the powers of Darkness; seeing that Callo had been captured, his only intention is to rescue her.
While discussing the Gran Grimoire, a powerful source of magic, Guildenstern and Samantha discover ancient Kildean letterings carved throughout the city walls. Rosencrantz reveals that the city is the Gran Grimoire and its power lies at the city center: the Grand Cathedral. As Guildenstern leaves for the Grand Cathedral, Rosencrantz searches for Ashley and Sydney. Finding them, Rosencrantz, confident in his immunity against Darkness, tries to force Sydney to surrender his powers. Rosencrantz also assaults Ashley to prove that he is not a suitable candidate for the powers of Darkness. Sydney refuses to listen and kills Rosencrantz by using a possessed statue, leaving Ashley to once again prove himself as his chosen successor.
Guildenstern continues on to the Great Cathedral in the center of the city, leading him to Callo, Hardin and Joshua. Interrogating Hardin about a certain “key” known as the Blood-Sin, Guildenstern reveals his intentions in acquiring the Dark’s powers. Sydney arrives to teleport Hardin and the rest away, leaving him to Guildenstern. Guildenstern acquires the “key” from him and murders Samantha as his sacrifice for the powers of darkness. Ashley arrives later and listens as Sydney reveals his true intentions. Ashley then confronts Guildenstern and manages to defeat him.
Upon Guildenstern’s defeat, Ashley, now bearing the “key”, carries Sydney out of the collapsing city. The creatures spawned within the city begin to disappear. Callo, Hardin and Joshua escape the city, though Hardin dies and the fate of Callo and Joshua remains unknown. In the epilogue, Ashley goes to visit the ailing Duke Bardorba in his manor, although once they were alone, it was Sydney who was in the room. Sydney tells the duke that he had found a suitable heir to the Darkness in Ashley, and that their plan to inherit the powers of Darkness was successful. The duke then proceeds to kill Sydney, and he himself died soon after of unknown causes. In a report received by the VKP a week after the Graylands Incident, the duke was believed to be murdered, and Ashley became the prime suspect, though he was never found again.