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Vambrace: Cold Soul is a Dungeon Crawler fantasy adventure, inspired by works such as Darkest Dungeon, but set amidst a frozen landscape. It was developed by the Korean studio Devespresso Games (who had earlier developed Survival Horror The Coma) and released on PC on May 28th, 2019.

The King of Shades has cursed the great city of Icenaire. Now cast under a permanent blight of frost fall, its former residents have returned from the dead as mad Wraiths. Survivors take refuge deep underground where they lead a desperate campaign against this unearthly power. Woefully outmatched, they are forced into hiding as the King of Shades amasses an army of the undead above them.

You are Evelia Lyric, bearer of the Aetherbrace and the only human capable of entering Icenaire, having come in search of information on your late father Dr. Nicolau Lyric. The survivors now look to you as their best hope against the King of Shades. Only one problem...you’re woefully outmatched, and survival is not guaranteed.

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See Iratus: Lord of the Dead for another 2019 game Inspired by... Darkest Dungeon, but where you are '''leading''' the undead into battle against the desperate living defenders.

Tropes present in this game:

  • A God Am I: The King of Shades has a severe case of this when finally confronted by Lyric.
    So vulgar. I see you father didn't teach you how to behave in the presence of a God-King!
  • All Deaths Final: Save for Lyric herself, anyone that falls in battle is gone for good.
  • An Arm and a Leg: You eventually learn that The Aetherbrace has a dark counterpart called Netherbrace, and formerly both were wielded by Green Flame's leader Septhis as he sieged Icenaire. However, his second-in-command Zaquard turned against him and cut off the arm with the Aetherbrace on it, and it fell from the city wall into the hands of Nicolau Lyric, who then called upon the realm's Gods to get it sent to his daughter, kickstarting the whole plot.
  • An Axe to Grind: Bandit-looking undead fought in the tutorial carry small hand axes. The game proper includes another variety with red eyes and larger, two-handed axes. There are also wraiths of the dwarf Police, who fight with throwing axes.
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    • Elite wraith dwarves that show up when Gheistometer is filled dual-wield a small and a large axe. One of the recruitable dwarf classes also dual-wields them.
    • Green Flame Glooms carry large two-handed axes. Like all of Green Flame weapons, they are made from the red metal.
  • And I Must Scream: You finally discover Lyric's father Nicolau in the Green Flame stronghold, where he is bound to the wall by green tentacles that keep him suspended between life and death. This was the punishment Green Flame leader and the current King of Shades Septhis did to him after the doctor saw through his insanity and worked with Icenaire's survivors to sabotage his plans.
  • And Your Reward Is Clothes: There are 26 sidequests whose main reward is a new character skin.
  • Arbitrary Headcount Limit: Lyric can only hire up to three mercenaries to battle alongside her. Because she's a crossbow wielder herself, the ideal party needs two melee fighters and one other ranged character. On the bright side, the enemy groups are equally limited to four shades/wraiths.
    • This gets a bit ridiculous in the final battle when Defeating the King of Shades without killing his Green Flame bodyguards first instantly kills them as well. Then, though, the King of Shades gets full health for his second stage, and suddenly instantly kills all three of Lyric's companions in the cutscene, and converts them to shades that join his side. Luckily for Lyric, the three Guardian characters (Zanquard, Isabel and Gunnar) step in place of her just-turned companions for the final stage. It's never explained either why the King of Shades couldn't just instantly kill your companions before the first stage, why his bodyguards had to die, or why he couldn't kill the three Guardians in the exact same manner. While the latter could be "explained" by Plot Armor, one really gets the impression he was waiting until his three available slots got freed up all along, and was then stuck with the companions when the Guardians showed up.
  • Bag of Sharing: The party inventory. However, its size is dependent on the number of characters you have.
  • BFS: The second stage of the King of Shades carries a red sword that's taller than he is, and which he carries one-handed. Not that he has a second hand, anyway.
  • Blade on a Stick: Eldritch Royal Guard carries a shield and a spear, and attacks the two front rows at once with it.
  • Big "NO!": Lyric exclaims this after she seemingly defeats the King of Shades, and his other bodyguards instantly die, only for him to instantly kill all three of her companions and revive them as Shades by his side. Luckily, the three Guardians - former King of Shades' second-in-command Zaquard, the sorceress Isabel Salazar and dwarven Prince Gunnar all rush in to confront him and fight by your side.
  • Can't Drop the Hero: The party must always contain Lyric, due to her Aetherbrace.
  • Chest Monster: There are Mimic chests, though getting a good roll due to Avoidance stat lets you avoid combat and instantly kill them instead.
  • Combat Tentacles: Green Flame Priestesses no longer have arms, with short tentacles growing from their shoulders instead.
  • Crate Expectations: Lyric can loot random boxes scattered about Icenaire's abandoned districts for items.
  • Cut-and-Paste Environments: A typical downside of the procedurally generated dungeons.
  • Cutscene Power to the Max: The King of Shades manages to instantly kill all three of Lyric's companions and convert them to loyal shades after they defeat his first stage - the kind of power he didn't display either during the preceding stage of the battle, nor the following one, when his attacks are actually fairly weak and not even close to One-Hit Kill of any kind.
  • Deflector Shields: Blacksmith-like Outdoor Engineer dwarf wraiths create these shields around fellow wraiths.
    • The Sylvani Celestine class also creates these on two characters through their flourish.
  • Dual Wielding: Elite wraith dwarves fought when Terror meter is full wield two large axes. One of the recruitable dwarf classes does the same. Shadowmancer class fights with dual sickles.
  • Dump Stat: Merchantry provides discounts during trade but is widely considered to be useless, as you'll soon have more hellions than things to buy and fit into your limited inventory anyway.
  • Dungeon Crawling: Icenaire has been divided into four districts that each serve as large dungeons, with various buildings of randomly-generated rooms standing between Lyric and each area's corrupted guardian.
  • Dungeon Shop: You'll regularly encounter Gerrard, the friendly wraith merchant.
  • Encyclopedia Exposita: The Codex Illuminus. You later learn it was written by your father, Dr. Nicholau Lyric, himself.
  • Everything Fades: Averted for the living, physical enemies, whose bodies remain there both during combat, and on the street after the encounter is done. Shades and wraiths do fade out out immediately, but then, you would expect them to.
  • Evil Is Deathly Cold: King of Shades' frost curse is certainly an example.
  • Fantasy Gun Control: Averted, as there is a dwarven Fusilier class. Guns are still very new, however, as his description calls it "a devastatingly powerful weapon few have ever seen."
  • Fictional Currency: Dalearch citizens pay for everything with so-called hellions.
  • Fox Folk: There's a race of fox-eared people, that are unsurprisingly named Foxier. They excel at archery, as their shade/wraith versions are typically archers. They also have Korean three-part names, as opposed to the more Western-styled names of basically everyone else.
  • Frying Pan of Doom: A cook wraith wields this in one arm, and a spatula with slits in the other. However, even though he's placed in the front line, he is purely a tanky healer, with a high block chance (presumably due to the frying pan) and who's far more likely to heal himself than allies, to boot. In essence, he's a distraction from the wraiths who'll actually deal damage, and ignoring will at worst see him heal others for 2 HP, whereas targeting him, even with multiple characters, can still see him heal it all back with a 5 HP heal.
  • Gender Is No Object: Played straight, as it's only character's race and class that matter, and they can otherwise be of either gender. Similarly, physical shade enemies have multiple visual variations per type, which can be male or female.
  • Golem: These are dwarven technology, but the King of Shades managed to corrupt them to bolster his forces as well.
  • Go Mad from the Revelation: This is the fate of Lyric in the Neutral Ending, as she couldn't handle the secrets of the universe sent to her through the Aetherbrace. The last we see of her, she is reduced to sitting naked in her home scratching at herself, locking herself away from the public so that they don't know this happened to the Hero of Icenaire.
  • Good Old Fisticuffs: Dwarven Noble wraiths straight-up punch their targets. Four-armed Dancers also attack bare-handed, though it's with a swipe rather than a punch.
  • Heartbeat Soundtrack: One accompanies Lyric's pre-battle conversation with The King of Shades.
  • He Knows About Timed Hits: Sarge explains the exact buttons used to do things in her tutorial dialogue.
  • Heroes Prefer Swords: Averted with the protagonist, Lyric, whose Weapon of Choice is a crossbow. However, there are definitely multiple heroic sword-wielding companions you can recruit. Also, Lyric's Aetherbrace has an icy blade protrude from it when she's pushed to her Despair Event Horizon after witnessing The King of Shades murder her father. She uses it to decapitate the bastard in the Neutral and Dark endings, but settles for stripping him of his Netherbrace powers and imprisoning him for life in the Light ending.
  • Horny Vikings: Dwarves nearly always wear horned helmets. Those on your side have small upwards-pointing horns, whereas the undead dwarf enemies have either tall impala-like horns for the axe-throwing Police, or thick ram horns for the axe dual-wielders.
  • Hub City: The deepest level of Icenaire, where the survivors have set up merchant stalls, an inn, and other establishments that Lyric will find useful.
  • Hyperactive Metabolism: Eating food at the camps (and only at the camps!) will restore either a bit of health or a bit of Vigor, often at the expense of the other. I.e. eating spit-roasted centipede heals 1 HP but costs 1 Vigor, whereas spit-roasted lizard's tail does the opposite.
    • One the other hand, cook and waitress wraiths will heal allied wraiths by serving them ghostly food.
  • An Ice Person: As expected, The King of Shades. One of his moves is to produce icy spikes from the ground to hit the entire party.
  • Inexplicable Treasure Chests: Occasionally present on the frozen streets of Icenaire, though you only have a percentage chance of opening them.
  • In the Back: After you defeat the King of Shades' second stage, he seems like he's about to transform, but your father suddenly stabs him in the back. Sadly, King of Shades still has enough strength left to finish him off - this pushes Lyric towards the Despair Event Horizon, and finally unlocks the full power of the Aetherbrace, leading into one of the three endings based on her alignment up to that point. In the good ending, he's actually spared to be depowered and imprisoned for the rest of his life, somehow managing to recover from both getting a blade in the back, and all the beating delivered to him during the boss battle.
  • Inventory Management Puzzle: There is a weight limit when it comes to how many items the party can carry without penalty, with each individual copy of an item counting towards the limit.
  • Item Crafting: There's a forge in the main hub where gathered items can be combined into more useful balms and equipment.
  • It's Up to You: Lyric may not have come to save Icenaire, but thanks to her Aetherbrace, she's the only one that can. And she's not getting information on her father unless she does.
  • Luckily, My Shield Will Protect Me: There are shield-bearing warrior characters, who predictably have the highest defence and block chance.
  • Magikarp Power: Lyric is the only party member who levels up, meaning that she starts off as the weakest character, and eventually becomes the strongest one.
  • Mirror Match: Played with. After you defeat the King of Shades for the first time, he instantly kills your companions and revives them as Shades. Their stats and abilities are exactly the same as they were before, though they obviously don't face themselves anymore, and instead confront the three Guardians that had prominently featured in the story up to that point, but had not actually fought with you.
  • Meet the New Boss: The Dark Ending amounts to this, as Lyric kills Septhis, the King of Shades, only to exile the Guardians and become the Queen of Shades ruling over the undead and seeking to rebuild Icenaire in her image.
  • Mismatched Eyes: Lyric has one blue eye, and one yellow.
  • Mook Medic: One of the wraith enemy types is an undead waitress who wields with a bloodied knife, but is more likely to heal and buff allies through serving them plates of food and wine.
    • The cook wraith is unusual because he's placed in the front line, and not the back where you expect the support characters to reside. He also wields a spatula and frying pan, so at first glance you might confuse him with a fighter. That's the point, as he actually cannot attack at all, and while his whole-group heal is limited (only restoring 2 HP), his self-heal restores 5, which is often equivalent to the damage from two attacks at once, and he has a high block chance to ensure that you'll get stuck for a while if you focus on him, giving the actually damaging wraiths a free reign.
  • Multiple Endings: A Light, Dark and Neutral ending. All three are activated right after Lyric is pushed into the Despair Event Horizon by the King of Shades murdering her father, which finally connects her to the full power of the Aetherbrace and begin with a single set of lines: This was the true power of the Aetherbrace. I searched for answers for so long, and realized I merely scratched the surface. The universe unfolded before me, flooding my mind with its primordial secrets. Knowledge that mortal simply...cannot endure. Then, through the darkness, a touch of divinity. I had felt the cold approach of death and I...
    • Dark ending: embraced it. Lyric decapitates the King of Shades, takes control of his Netherbrace and becomes the Queen of Shades, exiling the Guardians as a final mercy while again resurrecting her fallen companions as shades and intending to rebuild the Icenaire for the dead while preparing for the inevitable assault from outside forces hoping to reclaim the city for the living.
    • Neutral ending: looked it in the face. Lyric decapitates the King of Shades and saves the city, though it'll take generations to recover, but discards the Aetherbrace, and returns home to her father's manor. However, she is haunted by the experience and has to fight with all her strength to stave off the creeping madness. She bitterly remarks that she must do it only because her reputation as the Hero of Icenaire now preceds her.
    • Light ending: chose LIFE. Lyric entrusts the Netherbrace to Zaquard, while imprisoning Septhis, the former King of Shades, for life. She then leaves Icenaire with the remaining Guardians, and begins protecting the realm as one of the Augurs of Edena. You get a post-credits scene in the Augurs' headquarters where you get to click on a few items for a form of Where They Are Now Epilogue exposition. Once you are done, there's The Stinger line that acts as a Sequel Hook.
  • Multishot: The Arcaster Ghosts are foxier wraith archers that can shoot one arrow normally or multiple arrows straight up, which then hits all of the characters in your party, though with only a limited damage.
    • Your own archers can also do the same.
  • Off with His Head!: In both Dark and Neutral endings, The King of Shades is decapitated by Lyric with the icy blade she produced from the Aetherbrace after falling into her Despair Event Horizon.
  • One-Winged Angel: The King of Shades is a Sequential Boss, and after you defeat his first stage it seems like he would now transform, but instead, he uses the power of his Netherbrace to heal himself and instantly kill all of your companions, revive them as Shades and bring them to his side, while not changing much besides getting a large sword. After you defeat this stage too, it again seems like he might transform, but Lyric's father stabs him in the back and puts paid to it.
  • Our Elves Are Better: Here, they are named Sylvani, and are a wise and aloof race whose members in Dalearch are mainly responsible for healing the rest. Their hair is blond, but they either wear face-covering masks, or outright Plague Doctor ones.
  • The Overworld: The map of Icenaire acts as this when you travel between the streets (which are equivalent to Darkest Dungeon dungeons and are explored in an equivalent manner).
  • Plague Doctor: Sylvani doctors wear these masks.
  • Power Floats: Pretty much all of the shade/wraith enemies float above the ground. Hedge Mage class does this, too.
  • Powerful Pick: One of the wraith enemies fights with a pick.
  • Random Encounters: The battles during the dungeons. The only exceptions are the boss fights and the spirits summoned when your Geistometer is full.
  • Random Number God: Everything to do with health recovery during the expeditions is heavily based on luck. Only a few classes have healing skills (and some can only heal themselves), and it's entirely random when or whether you'll be able to recruit a healer. If you don't have one, then you can only use the healing items at the campsites. These campsites are randomly placed, so you may not get the chance when you need it the most. Then, you can also heal at the campsites by sleeping...but it may not actually do anything besides wasting time, which raises the Geistometer and thus makes an ambush by ghosts more likely.
    • That's also not to mention the random text encounters, like finding an underground cellar or stumbling upon a ghostly dog. All of their outcomes are percentage-based, and while stats do play a role, you can only guess which exact stat is needed to get a good outcome from the encounter, then remember which of the characters had this stat the highest, so that they would be the ones to interact with it.
    • Then, if you happen to suffer a party wipeout, you may not get the right mix of replacement heroes in the inn (two melee and one ranged), and thus end up with a melee character in a ranged spot or vice versa, which renders them useless for anything besides increasing the inventory size.
  • Sequential Boss: The King of Shades has a particularly cruel variation of this. Upon getting his HP to zero, rather than evolving himself, or anything like it, he has any of his surviving guards from the first stage die, and instead manages to instantly kill all three of your companions, and then turn them into Shades and send them over to his side. He asks Lyric is she is afraid of dying alone, but she doesn't have to answer because the three Guardians, Zaquard, Isabel and Prince Gunnar all rush in to take your companions' place for the final battle.
  • Shield-Bearing Mook: There's a shade who carries a large shield knocked together out of boards.
  • Shout-Out: The tutorial has you control Privates Biggs and Wedge note , accompanied by the Sarge who explains the main mechanics.
  • Side View: Much like in Darkest Dungeon, street exploration is two-dimensional.
  • Sinister Scythe: Isabel Salazar is a sorceress who uses a red scythe where a traditional mage would have used a staff.
  • Snow Means Death: The entire city of Icenaire is blanketed with frost as part of the King of Shade's curse, and the dead now roam its streets.
  • Sprint Meter: Vigor is a subversion, as it is consumed every time you enter a room, rather than by your characters' attacks or abilities (although some enemies' attacks can drain Vigor). It is replenished at camps: meanwhile, running out of Vigor kills a character in the same manner as if they ran out of health.
  • Throat Light: Basically all the wraiths have an eerie blue light like this, if their mouth is visible and not covered by something. This goes along with Glowing Eyes, and glowing faint blue in general.
  • Trauma Inn: Sleeping at the campsites acts in this manner - assuming you don't fail the percentage chance and simply get spirit meter raised due to the. It is also the only way to heal besides applying healing items at the very same campsites.
  • Vendor Trash: There are some randomly-looted items, such as fancy (and heavy) portraits, that serve no purpose other than to be sold at a high price.
  • What Did You Expect When You Named It ____?: A city called Icenaire getting encased by a wall of ice and mostly taken over by the icy undead is rather fitting.
  • Wolverine Claws: One of the wraith enemies fights with one.
  • You All Look Familiar: Zig-zagged. Some of the "living"/shade enemies have a range of possible sprites and portraits. The wraiths, though, always have exactly one appearance for each type.

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