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Vandal Hearts is a series of tactical RPGs released by Konami. Three games have been released in the series so far, Vandal Hearts, Vandal Hearts II: Heavens Gate and Vandal Hearts: Flames of Judgement.

Although both Vandal Hearts and its sequel involve the same Sword of Plot Advancement, the titular "Vandal Hearts", they are unconnected story wise. Flames of Judgement, meanwhile, is a direct prequel to the first game.

The original Vandal Hearts follows the story of Ash Lambert, a soldier in the Republic of Ishtaria, as the government is gradually being corrupted into an empire. It was a fairly standard tactical RPG, with its main differences from the rest of the genre coming in the form of a small amount of interactive scenery; one could kick boulders out of the way, push blocks, and so forth. Characters were restricted to a limited tree of classes based on their initial predetermined classes. Each side in battle would move all of their characters as part of their turn, then the other side would get a turn. Many missions included goals other than defeating all of the enemies, such as surviving X number of turns, reaching a certain point on the map, or destroying all enemies while preserving at least one villager.


The game was originally released for the Sega Saturn and Sony Playstation in 1997, and a decade later, plans were made at one point for a Nintendo DS re-release, but those never materialized.

Two years later, Vandal Hearts II: Heaven's Gate was released and was a huge shift in tone, both in terms of plot and gameplay. Featuring a completely different world and an entire new cast of characters, it takes place in the kingdom of Natra, which is in the middle of a Succession Crisis that threatens to explode into a full-on Civil War. Our hero, Joshua (in the manual anyway), is a young boy in a small village. One day, the village takes in a weary traveler named Nicola, who turns out to have grand plans for Natra...

Vandal Hearts II expanded on the first game by doing away with the class system (a character's class is determined by their armor and weaponry), adding learnable skills through the weaponry, allowing mission maps to be repeated, and introducing the "Dual Turn System". In the Dual Turn System, the player and the computer simultaneously give commands to one character each, and these characters would take their actions at the same time. This would sometimes require the player to second-guess the computer, as the enemy the player wanted to attack may not be standing in the same place when the attack went off. One aspect of the original that was downplayed in the second game was the variation in mission objectives; while there are a few missions in Vandal Hearts II with a goal other than "Defeat All Enemies" or "Defeat the Boss", they are far fewer in number and proportion than in the original game. Unlike the first title, this was a Playstation exclusive.


After almost 11 years of silence, Vandal Hearts: Flames of Judgment was released in January 2010 as a downloadable title on the PlayStation Network and Xbox Live Arcade. Being a Prequel to the first game, it returned to the world of Ishtaria and ditched the Dual Turn system, brought back the first game's varied mission objectives, and introduced a somewhat Elder Scrolls-like character advancement system, where characters' stats improved automatically based on their actions. The story follows a young priest named Tobias Martin as he battles a Well-Intentioned Extremist for the fate of his country.

This series provides examples of:

  • Aborted Arc: In Vandal Hearts I, the characters briefly discuss whether the archeological evidence they're about to find might give the land's deposed former rulers a legitimate claim to the throne. This is never mentioned again.
  • After the End: In Vandal Hearts II, fulfilling a large number of obscure requirements will eventually reveal that the world is actually a post-apocalyptic sci-fi setting.
  • Alas, Poor Villain: Every game in the series has at least one villain turn semi-sympathetic just before their demise.
    • Vandal Hearts I's Hel Spites gives a speech about his honest intentions moments before being assassinated.
    • In Vandal Hearts II, Queen Agatha finally opens up and shows caring and compassion... just before her child poisons and stabs her to death for everything she's done up to that point. Meanwhile, her former ally, Cardinal Ladorak, gets in over his head when he accepts Godard's help in furthering his agenda, and is burned to death when Godard learns that he saved Nicola and has been supporting him from the very beginning.
    • Flames of Judgment's Daldren Gray is a bit more sympathetic all around, but especially in his last words: "Have mercy on my little girl."
  • All There in the Manual: Many of the character and setting details in Flames of Judgment are only mentioned in the in-game journal.
  • Artificial Brilliance: The AI is ruthless, deliberately playing to the Tactical Rock–Paper–Scissors and using the terrain well to surround your characters and strike at their backs whenever possible. The player has to be very careful about how everyone is positioned at the end of their turn, otherwise the enemies will gang up on the most exposed member and take him or her out. However...
  • Artificial Stupidity:
    • Occasionally, the tendency of the AI to work the type advantages works against it. Enemy archers — including boss characters — will occasionally walk right up next to your tanks and swordsmen so they can hit one of your fliers, and enemy mages will occasionally move closer to your front lines to target a specific unit, when it would be smarter to retreat to relative safety and pick a different target.
    • The AI in Vandal Hearts II is completely deterministic - for example, it will always try to move behind one of your units, and will choose which unit to move behind in an order that, once figured out, it will never deviate from. Couple this with the fact that you move one unit and the enemy moves one unit, and you can move the unit to be attacked either out of the way, or even have that unit move behind where the enemy will be and attack them, while staying completely unharmed themselves. It is possible to win maps with not only every one of your units intact, but not even damaged.
  • The Atoner:
    • Kira becomes this on defecting back to you in Vandal Hearts.
    • Queen Agatha is planning to become this near the end of Vandal Hearts II, but her daughter and son-in-law team up to assassinate her just as she starts to explain herself.
    • Liana Talbot in Flames of Judgment, who was an assistant Mad Scientist before becoming a childrens' teacher at a religious charity. If you read all the journal entries, it's even implied that she helped kill Tobias' mother.
  • Ax-Crazy: Most of the villains by the end of Vandal Hearts II; Shance Aya in Flames of Judgment.
  • Badass Longcoat: Zohar Abu freaking Sa'id. An ancient, legendary sorcerer. His long black robes are really cool. Plus, while all the characters have a strange squatting animation while idle. Zohar just stands there, hand in pocket, with his white hair flapping in the breeze.
  • Big Brother Mentor: Sebastian in Flames of Judgment. Guess what happens to him?
  • Big Damn Heroes: When Clint, Eleni, Amon, and Darius bust out of prison only to find themselves trapped in some tiny stretch of sand where archers can wreak merry hell on them, Ash and co. turn up to storm the impenetrable prison and save the day. (It's okay, the prisoners were political dissidents that supported the good guys' rebellion.)
  • Blood Knight:
    • The Crimson Guards from the first game are brutal "law enforcers" who merciless kills anyone who gets in their way.
    • "Blood Knight" Jacob from the sequel. The game even begins with him and his soldiers burning a town to the ground and killing its inhabitants.
  • Bodyguard Betrayal: In VH2, Nicola is betrayed and backstabbed by his own generals.
  • Bonus Dungeon: The key/prism levels in the first game. To a lesser extent, the various hidden maps in Vandal Hearts II and Flames of Judgment.
  • Brainwashed and Crazy: Numerous characters in Vandal Hearts II are mindwiped into killing machines by Godard, including Adele's grandfather Lord Kossimo, Ladorak's three operatives Jacob, Jamir, and Manon, and Friar Mahler. Their character portraits include completely vacant eyes to represent their brainwashing.
  • Call-Forward: Flames of Judgment includes references to Grog's fetch quest, Huxley's ending, and several characters' last names from Vandal Hearts I.
  • Card-Carrying Villain: In an early scene, Kane declares he likes another character because, "You're almost as evil as I!"
  • Chest Monster: A certain level in Vandal Hearts I is packed with mimics, mixed in with occasionally-legitimate chests, one containing a unique, very powerful helmet that won't be outdone for a few chapters.
  • Clothes Make the Superman: Vandal Hearts II had HP and MP determined by the characters' armor. Used to a smaller extent in Flames of Judgment.
  • Corrupt Church:
    • One of the few genre staples missing from Vandal Hearts. The nearest we got to mention of religion is the 'Holy Ashah Dynasty' from the ancient past and that Huxley and Sara can become Bishops and Archbishops.
    • Played straight in Vandal Hearts II. The Church State of Nirvadia is supporting the eastern faction in the fight for control of Natra; Cardinal Ladorak has been promised the papacy if he succeeds in uniting Natra with Nirvadia. The church itself unwittingly worships a Dark Messiah as their patron saint.
  • Dark Messiah: Two from Vandal Hearts II.
  • Deal with the Devil: Kane Spites trades his soul in order to exact revenge on Ash, transforming into a bloodthirsty monster.
  • Death Seeker: Kira Wulfstan in Vandal Hearts I.
  • Demonic Possession: In the final act of Vandal Hearts II, Godard takes over the body of King Franz, and reveals that he has been jumping from body to body for a century and a half.
  • Depraved Homosexual: Mohosa in Vandal Hearts II. He is captivated by Yuri's good looks, and is implied to have been regularly sexually molesting the catatonic King Franz for years when Joshua and co. arrive.
  • Disney Death:
    • Clive Beckett in Vandal Hearts I is mortally wounded, gives a Deathbed Confession, and appears to expire (complete with sad, mournful rain), but a line of dialogue afterwards reads, "We may yet save him!" and a later line says, "Clive's going to be okay!" Given that he's never seen again after his "death," one wonders if the writers just felt sorry for him and slipped those lines in when no one was looking.
    • Connor Ganson in Flames of Judgment is mortally wounded, then revived by the All-Loving Hero.
  • Disposable Woman: In Flames of Judgment, Eleanor doesn't make it through her first scene.
  • Downer Ending: The worst ending of Vandal Hearts II, where all of Joshua's childhood friends die, and he eventually ends up becoming a bitter and jaded man who founds a totalitarian empire that rules for 300 years before finally collapsing.
  • The Dragon: Kane Spites in Vandal Hearts I.
  • Driven to Suicide: Adele in Vandal Hearts II, unless the player does everything it takes to prevent it from happening. Namely, making amends with her over Kossimo's death and reuniting all four childhood friends: Adele, Yuri, Clive, and yourself. Getting Clive to survive simply means choosing the right dialogue option. Getting Yuri to survive requires finding the Vandal Hearts.
  • Easy Amnesia: Eleni in Vandal Hearts I.
  • Eloquent in My Native Tongue:
    • Vlad from Vandal Hearts II speaks like a caveman, but as he explains, that's just because he's not from around there.
    • Subverted in Flames of Judgment, where Altyria pretends that she only speaks her native tongue, but actually speaks both languages fluently.
  • Empty Shell: In Vandal Hearts II, by the time the party finds King Franz, his mother's brainwashing spell has rendered him completely catatonic. His eyes are closed in his character portrait and his dialogue is limited to "..." (except when he is ordered to speak by his "programmers") until Godard possesses his body near the end of the game. It is not until the epilogue that Franz, though only in spirit form, finally speaks and acts for himself.
  • The End... Or Is It?: In a post-credits cutscene, Flames of Judgment shows Daldren's soul intact in Purgatory.
  • Epic Fail: The debut of Kira Wulfstan in Vandal Hearts I may fall to this... if the attack does not hit.
    Kira: Suck on this, brigand!
    Ash: What bravery!
    Enemy Bat: (block)
  • Escort Mission:
    • Vandal Hearts I has you escort Leena, Eleni's past self, around a narrow stone path that can be raised or dropped into the sea at will so she can open an ancient shrine which is protected by the same ancient guardians who later serve the Big Bad. It... almost makes sense in context.
    • Flames of Judgment has you protecting Connor during his Roaring Rampage of Revenge, and later protecting King Everett (twice). Thankfully, the former is a capable fighter, and the latter's usually pretty smart about letting you protect him. Usually.
  • Even Evil Has Loved Ones: Kane is a Card-Carrying Villain who likes people who's just as evil as he is. However, even he loves his father and wholeheartedly support his quest for peace through dominance, even if he's a little bloodthirsty about it. He even ruined a perfectly set ambush when he heard that his father just died.
  • Face–Heel Turn: Vandal Hearts II features several.
    • Yuri casts his lot in with Godard upon discovering that the religious tradition in which he was raised is based around worship of a mass murderer. This is later reversed if you have the Vandal Hearts to explain the reason for St. Nirvath's actions.
    • If Joshua tries to make excuses instead of amends for his perceived role in Kossimo's death when he encounters Adele in Chapter 3, she will swear revenge against him in their rooftop conversation in Chapter 4, even if both Yuri and Clive are still alive. The object of the ensuing fight outside Nigran Cathedral changes from killing a Brainwashed and Crazy Mahler to killing Adele and an unbrainwashed Mahler.
  • For Science!: In Flames of Judgment, Liana's journal reveals how she gradually lost her grip on right and wrong as she chased success in the science lab.
  • Fragile Speedster: Any character in Vandal Hearts II wearing the armor L-mach; +30 Movement... and max HP of 1.
  • Free Rotating Camera: As is typical for the Strategy RPG genre, all of the Vandal Hearts games allow the player to rotate, tilt, and zoom the camera at will to study the terrain and look out for spaces containing hidden treasures.
  • Freudian Excuse:
    • Dolf Crowley in Vandal Hearts I wanted to destroy the world as revenge for his father being conspired against.
    • Vandal Hearts II's Godard wanted to become a god because he was betrayed by his religious ideals.
  • Friendly Fireproof: Used in the first game, averted in the second and third.
  • Gambit Pileup: Just try to keep track of the plots behind the Natran Civil War.
  • Generational Saga: Flames of Judgment is implied to be the start of one, as both endings conclude by zooming in on Tobias' child, whichever child that ends up being.
  • Genre Blindness: Diego asks Eleni why she can't summon the golems she previously used to attack them.
  • Get on the Boat: The first game features this between a couple of chapters. The second involves it without the actual boat, when the hero flings himself through a window into the river. The third features this near the end, complete with a nod to the first game.
  • Golem: An enemy type in the first game. Eleni explains in the chapter after she joins that it takes three years to make one - one year to assemble the body and two years to give it life.
  • The Good, the Bad, and the Evil: Two examples from Vandal Hearts I.
    • In the first game, Zohar questions the protagonists' righteous quest, asking if they are certain what it will make the world a better place and not just mess it up even more. Much later in the game, it turns out that Hel Spites, who's been setting himself up as the Big Bad, has been trying to attain Imperial world domination for the safety of the people. Having seen the civilian populace getting caught in the crossfire between the former goverment's soldiers and the rebels, he decided to put an end to war, no matter the cost... Moments after this revelation, he is mercilessly slaughtered by Dolf Crowley in order for him to further his own ends.
    • From Vandal Hearts II, Joshua and the White Dragons can be seen as the good guys, the enemies from East and West Natra (Queen Agatha, Doom, Jacob, Cardinal Ladorak etc.) are the bad guys, and Godard and his followers are the evil ones, as their presence threathens the entire world.
  • Gotta Catch Them All:
    • The first game has an optional example with the keys and prisms, neeeded to unlock bonus levels, the Vandalier class and the reforged Vandal Hearts sword.
    • The sequel fits in both important and optional criteria. Finding the seven prisms allows Joshua to obtain the Vandal Heart, which is one of the requirements for the best ending.
  • Guide Dang It!:
    • Obtaining all the keys in Vandal Hearts. Good god. There's a few simple ones, such as talking to a certain lady in Minaro after defeating the fifth battle's boss, while the last one can be obtained by speaking to a weird man in Chapter 6 after obtaining every other prism. The others, though? Two of them have you examine random squares in certain battles (one of them even being in a pit of lava), and another has you find three items across three chapters (which are, again, on random squares with nothing out-of-the-ordinary about them) and talking to a man in Kerachi to obtain it.
    • Obtaining the multiple endings in Vandal Hearts II.
    • The fabled Gradius Sword from Vandal Hearts II. Nobody can seem to agree on how to obtain it, and it's seemingly up to pure chance on if you find it or not.
    • The game won't readily tell you that, while passive effects like Recovermarks (on shields) stack, some active Skills also stack, like Brawler skills found on Urns everywhere. The only clue is that Jamir, one of the major bosses, stacks them and you won't know why until he uses said skill on you (hint: more Brawler skills means you punch more, and if you punch more...).
    • The secret code for hard mode in II, obtained by getting the Golden Ending and having a 100% weapon find rate. The catch? Not only does it not tell you were to enter it, but the code is wrong. Entering the code on the title screen with a controller plugged into the second slot (while substituting L2 with R1 in the code that the game gives you) will trigger it.
  • Happy Fun Ball: The Evil Doll in Vandal Hearts II.
  • Hate Sink: Kane Spites, who insults and demeans Ash at every turn, willingly (and gleefully) executes helpless prisoners, and generally makes a royal ass out of himself at every opportunity. You'll be grateful when the game finally lets you gut him like a fish.
  • Hello, [Insert Name Here]: The second game allows you to rename the main character.
  • Heroic BSoD: If Joshua tries to make excuses to Adele for Lord Kossimo's death when they run into each other, she will swear vengeance against him, leading to a final confrontation outside Nigran Cathedral in the first of the game's quartet of final battles. The post-battle cutscene finds Joshua kneeling over Adele's body, overwhelmed by despair at having had to kill his childhood sweetheart; Pratau has to snap him out of it, as they don't have the luxury of time in their fight against Godard.
  • Heroic Mime: Commander Agress in Vandal Hearts II.
  • Hidden Backup Princess: In Vandal Hearts II, the country of Natra is torn apart by a war of succession between the families of Julius and Lagore, the sons of King Zekras. However, Adele is revealed to be Zekras' illegitimate daughter (Graud, whom she believed was her father, simply married her mother while she was pregnant) and enters contention for the throne in the second half of the game. In the best ending, with Lagore's son Franz dead and Julius' son Nicola in exile, she becomes sole ruler of Natra.
  • High-Pressure Blood: The original game was given an M rating virtually on the matter of this alone. The second game toned down the blood sprays (but included other kinds of brutal violence), while the third turned the blood back up somewhat, but skated by with a T rating.
  • Holy City: Nirvadia, which is a city-state much like the real Vatican.
  • Hostage for MacGuffin: Done in the first game, for Kira Wulfstan.
  • Hopeless Boss Fight: In the first game, Chapter 4 starts with a battle you are not meant to win against a large enemy force that outlevels you and includes all four generals of the crimson knights, who are later fought one at a time as bosses. You are told from the start that the fight is hopeless and that you should escape through the gate at the opposite end of the map, which is also the mission goal you are given for the fight. With smart play it is entirely possible to wipe the enemy side off the map, but you still need to flee to the city gate and the game moves on as if you hadn't just beaten Kane and company to a pulp.
  • Improbable Weapon User: The second game uses a weapon class system. There're swords, shields, daggers, axes...and then there's the "Special" class. Ranging from knuckles to lead-weighted urns, to books, to Maracas, and lastly, the Evil Doll. Oh, also, the Sinister Scythe.
  • In-Universe Game Clock: In Vandal Hearts II, the in-game date and time of day advance with every move the player makes across the world map. Also, some maps feature different enemies and even different treasure depending on the time of day.
  • Jerkass: Kane Spites, to great lengths, although he's not without his redeeming qualities that he's loyal to his father and his friends. In the face of Ash, however, he certainly embraces being an asshole Card-Carrying Villain.
  • Joke Weapon: The second game will sell you a replica of the famed Vandal Hearts, called V-Harts (notice the lack of "e"). If it wasn't for the fact that it carries a somewhat useful Skill, calling it a Joke Weapon doesn't even begin to describe it.
  • The Juggernaut:
    • The enemy "Juggernaut". Attack them in the back, they die on one hit; attack them from anywhere else, you're basically asking for a major ass whoopin'.
    • Dallas, from the first game, also qualifies.
  • Kick the Dog: At tne end of the second level in Vandal Hearts I, Ash manages to defuse a riot and talk the rioters into surrendering. Kane then arrives, pulls rank on Ash, and has the leader of the rioters taken into custody... followed by ordering his men to slaughter the rest.
  • Knight of Cerebus: Godard in Vandal Hearts II. His actions make things even worse in an already dark story, the tone set by the end of Chapter 1 when he manipulates Joshua into killing Lord Kossimo and ensures he gets blamed by Adele (who he also brought nearby).
  • Last of Her Kind: Leena/Eleni in the first game.
  • Licking the Blade: Certain enemies do this before each attack, most notably the Mad Soldiers from the 2nd chapter of the first game.
  • Load-Bearing Boss: Defeating the final boss in Vandal Hearts II causes his lair to collapse.
  • Madness Mantra: Some of the brainwashed characters from VH2 will only say "Kill kill kill..."
  • Magically Inept Fighter: Not only are knights, archers, and airmen incapable of casting spells, but Armor units have the least magic resistance and can be torn apart by mages.
  • Man on Fire: In Vandal Hearts II, this is the final fate of Cardinal Ladorak when Godard discovers that he has been secretly aiding Nicola and the protagonists. Godard casts a spell, and Ladorak is engulfed in flames and burned to ashes in seconds.
  • Marathon Level: The sixth Trial of Toroah in the first game. It involves a massive pyramid littered with strong enemies, and the only way you can go up is by spiraling all the way around the base and working your way up slowly. Hitting the enemies with long-range attacks and magic can make things a little faster by making them work their way down to you at the same time (since they also have to spiral around the pyramid to reach you), but it can still take over 25 turns, which is much, much longer than any other mission up to that point in the game.
  • Master of All: Ash starts out as a very competent and useful Jack-of-All-Stats and Magic Knight, and becomes this trope in spades if you manage to unlock his gamebreaking, Purposefully Overpowered Vandalier class, which is a Lightning Bruiser that can cast every spell in the game and use any consumable item in the game from his spell list for free.
  • Mighty Glacier:
    • Dragoons in Vandal Hearts hit hard, but have limited speed and movement.
    • Armor characters creep along at a snail's pace thanks to all that, well, armor, but once they reach you they'll hit you like a truck.
  • Military Mage: Clerics act as The Medic and Mages as artillery, and the latter are particularly useful against Armor units, which have incredibly strong physical defenses but are vulnerable to magical attacks. Monks, a subclass that can be accessed by both Clerics and Mages, are Magic Knights and Jacks of All Stats with excellent movement speed, decent physical attack and defense, and enough skill with both magical offense and magical healing to be used as either The Medic or an offensive mage in a pinch.
  • Mirror Boss: In the aptly named Optional Map "Zero: Mirror Room" from Vandal Hearts II, you face off against carbon copies of your party, down to their equipment. It is highly advisable that you equip lesser versions of your spells because the AI is somehow more proficient at using it against you then you using it against them.
  • Multiple Endings:
    • Vandal Hearts II has several widely different endings depending on choices made throughout the game: namely, whether Joshua makes excuses or amends with Adele over his perceived role in Kossimo's death, whether he tells Clive he must stay alive to protect Rosaly or vows to protect her himself if Clive dies, and whether he has the Vandal Hearts before the fight against Yuri in Chapter 4.
      • The best ending requires making amends instead of excuses with Adele, telling Clive he must stay alive, and showing Yuri the Vandal Hearts. In this ending, Adele is crowned queen of a united Natra, with Joshua as her premier; she makes a point of remaining unmarried to extinguish the monarchy, but Joshua becomes her husband in all but name.
      • One of the mid-level endings requires vowing to protect Rosaly and either making amends with Adele or showing Yuri the Vandal Hearts (or both). If you make amends with Adele, she is Driven to Suicide, while if you make excuses, she pulls a Face–Heel Turn and dies in the fight outside Nigran Cathedral. In the ending, Joshua is mayor of his old hometown and is married to Rosaly, who is giving birth to her first child; a boy in the town asks if the stories about Joshua being a great knight are true, but Joshua demurs. If Yuri lives, he becomes the priest at the village church.
      • The other mid-level ending requires telling Clive that he must stay alive and either making excuses to Adele or killing Yuri (or both); as in the other mid-level ending, Adele is Driven to Suicide if you make amends with her and pulls a Face–Heel Turn if you make excuses. In the ending, Clive and Rosaly are married and find Joshua, now Walking the Earth, visiting Adele's grave in their old hometown. If Yuri lives, they will mention his career as a priest for the new Natra faith, and as Joshua rides off on horseback, he sees ghosts of himself and Adele as children on a nearby clifftop.
      • The worst ending requires making excuses to Adele, vowing to protect Rosaly, and killing Yuri. Joshua becomes the tyrannical emperor of Natra and ruthlessly conquers the remnants of the surrounding countries, creating a united empire that lasts three centuries, although he is still haunted by the memory of Adele. He is ultimately assassinated at the age of 83 by one of his descendants.
    • Flames of Judgment has two somewhat different endings, depending on which love interest you favor during key conversations.
  • Musical Nod: The battles on the hidden maps in Vandal Hearts II are all accompanied by one of three music tracks, each one a more densely-orchestrated version of a battle theme from Vandal Hearts I (namely "Fortress", "A Crisis", and "Decisive Battle").
  • My Death Is Just the Beginning: In Vandal Hearts II, Godard orchestrates his own death at the hands of the heroes, so his soul can take over Franz body.
  • Names to Run Away from Really Fast: Hel Spites, though he's actually not so bad once you know that he's got good intentions. Kane Spites, on the other hand... well, if you're not on the side of The Empire (he's actually having a good camaraderie with fellow Crimson Guards), or you're in Ash's party, then you should run.
  • Nerd Glasses: Calvin in Flames of Judgment. Darius, although they're more like nerd goggles, in Vandal Hearts I.
  • Nice Job Breaking It, Hero!: In one mission in Vandal Hearts I, you need to defeat a number of enemies with at least one villager surviving. However, the villagers are mind controlled and attacking you. This wouldn't be TOO bad (after all, they are merely villagers) except your characters insist on counter attacking ANYTHING that attacks them. Defeating the enemies on this stage isn't nearly as difficult as preventing your easily angered party from slaughtering the town.
  • Nice Job Fixing It, Villain!: In I Kane actually has a perfect chance to kill Ash's party once and for all after having placing him in a well-placed ambush with Kurtz. Then he heard the news of his father's death and proceeds to abandon his ambush in favor of mourning for his father. This allows Ash to win against Kurtz and live for another day.
  • No Doubt the Years Have Changed Me: In Vandal Hearts II, Joshua encounters Nicola on the street years after their previous meeting. In that time, Nicola's gone from a proactive, politically-charged warrior to a self-pitying drunkard. Also, Joshua's stepsister has become a prostitute. Yeah, it's that kind of game.
  • Not Blood Siblings: In Vandal Hearts II, Rosaly addresses Joshua as "Big Brother" throughout the game, but her feelings for him run far deeper. However, she's only his adoptive sister, as her parents took him in after his parents were killed in a skirmish with the local corrupt nobles. In one of the endings, they end up married with children.
  • One-Winged Angel: Present in all three games.
    • In the first game, Kane gives his soul for the power to kill Ash. The final boss also pulls one of these, though his OWA form was actually weaker than his normal one.
    • The final boss of VH II has two forms which are both this; you fight his human form earlier.
    • The final boss of Flames of Judgment transforms into a raging fire beast after having been beaten in human form.
  • Only Sane Man:
    • In Vandal Hearts II, Pike constantly questions the other characters' reckless, impractical decisions.
    • This role gets taken up by Connor in Flames of Judgment, though in a subversion, he himself has a habit of going Leeroy Jenkins when provoked.
  • People's Republic of Tyranny: The Vernantze Republic in Vandal Hearts II, which supports Nicola's claim to the throne of Natra, is in fact ruled by corrupt aristocrats, the only people eligible to stand for elected office.
  • Plotline Death:
    • Early in Vandal Hearts II, a villain hypnotizes kindly old Lord Kossimo into attacking the protagonist, prompting the player to kill him in self-defense. Even though (1) you can avoid his attacks indefinitely, (2) you have access to a spell that can freeze him in his tracks without hurting him, and (3) you should be able to just leave the room (you jump out a window in the very next cutscene), the game won't let you advance until you kill him.
    • Liana in Flames of Judgment is mortally wounded during a pre-battle scene, and lies wounded on the map during the fight. None of your healing abilities will help — in fact, even in the dialogue afterwards, Tobias tries a healing spell, but it doesn't work.
  • Puppet King: King Franz in Vandal Hearts II is an almost literal puppet; his mother saw his talents as king as a threat to her own agenda and brainwashed him into a mindless automaton who only speaks or acts on command. When Franz disappears during the fracture of Agatha's alliance with Cardinal Ladorak, both Agatha and Ladorak find new puppet kings in Gregor and Nicola, respectively.
  • Purposefully Overpowered: Promoting Ash to the Vandalier class. It's a massive pain to do, odds are you won't find out how to do so without a guide, and it's obtained on the tail end of the game. But if you do? Hoooooo boy. Ash's stats go through the roof, he's not affected by the Tactical Weapons Triangle, he knows every spell in the game (even ones that were previously enemy-exclusive), and he's strong enough to kill just about any unit in the game in one attack, the singular exception being the Final Boss, Dolf - and only in his first form, which even then takes out half of his HP.That said... The only downside? You look like you're wearing a chicken suit.
  • Rape, Pillage, and Burn: Vandal Hearts II includes all three, twice each. Vandal Hearts I and Flames of Judgment both feature a scene where a town gets torched, though not quite to the brutal extent of II.
  • Recurring Boss: Almost every major boss in Vandal Hearts II is fought several times throughout the game - Godard, Commander Jacob, Lieutenant Jamir, Lieutenant Manon, Doom the Thunder, Godeau the Grief, Thorpe the Gorgeous, Warden Mohosa, Friar Mahler... one sign that the game is reaching its end is the final defeat of the recurring bosses, one after the other.
  • Reforged Blade: One of your main purposes during your quest is to obtain the legendary sword Vandal Heart. However, if you take on a number of subquests along the way - collecting all the Spheres, passing all the Trials, obtaining all the Keys - then towards the end, you can upgrade the main hero, Ash, into the 'Vandalier' class, which makes him virtually invincible and turns the rest of the game into a cakewalk. As part of this transformation, the Vandal Heart is turned into the even-stronger Vandal Heart Reforged.
  • Saintly Church: The Church of Restoration in Flames of Judgment is a legitimate religious charity, with no particular ambitions beyond that.
  • Sealed Evil in a Can: A magic ring in the first game, which tends to corrupt the holder and those around them.
  • See You in Hell: When you finally strike down Kane for good, he declares as he dies that he'll be waiting for Ash in Hell.
  • Sequel Hook: At the conclusion of Vandal Hearts II's ideal ending, Vandal Hearts I's protagonist appears to lead the second game's protagonist on another adventure.
  • Shoot the Medic First: During one of your fights against Godeau, Thorpe, and Doom, you will notice a mage wielding a shield (very much an oddity for AI mages) minding his own business at the edge of a map. Turns out his shield has the ultra-rare ReAnimator spell which can bring any of the Boss characters back to life after being defeated (though their HP depends on their condition several turns before they are dead, so there's that).
  • Short-Range Long-Range Weapon: Averted. Bows are long-range weapons, and you use them point-blank at your own peril, if the game even lets you.
  • Shut Up, Hannibal!: In Flames of Judgment, when the manifestations of the party's sins appear and deliver an elaborate round-robin monologue, Connor's response is, "Did you guys rehearse that before we showed up? 'Cause you really nailed it!"
  • Sliding Scale of Idealism vs. Cynicism:
    • Vandal Hearts II is decidedly cynical, as exemplified in a scene where Nicola heroically stands up for the townspeople, drives off the crooked, lecherous tax collector - and makes their situation much worse by bringing the wrath of the tax collector's boss down on the town. How cynical is the second game? It opens with a scene of Rape, Pillage, and Burn, no survivors. The entire game can basically be summed up as No Good Deed Goes Unpunished: The RPG.
    • Vandal Hearts I and Flames of Judgment are both somewhere in the middle; in both, the world is bleak, and there are no perfect, easy solutions, but the heroes do at least succeed in preventing things from getting worse.
  • Stable Time Loop: In Vandal Hearts I, Leena gets thrown into the past thanks to Xeno to prevent her to unseal Vandal Heart. But beforehand, she managed to get a pendant from a certain 'Eleni'. Instead, she got thrown into 18 years in the past, found by Magnus Dunbar and adopted as the aforementioned Eleni. Then she grew up, journeys to the point she got thrown back in time to give young Leena her encouraging words and pendant, and eventually unseals the Vandal Heart. Nice Job Setting Leena Up To Be Eleni, Xeno!
  • Stepford Smiler: In Vandal Hearts II, Godard mindwipes several characters into becoming mindless supporters of his goals, including Graud and Duke Kleuth. The portraits of such characters have completely vacant eyes when they are under his spell, and the other characters comment on how odd their behaviour has become.
  • The Stinger: In Vandal Hearts II, if you have managed 100% weapon collection, there is a post-credits scene of Joshua returning the Vandal Hearts to the chamber where he found it, only to be greeted by an apparition of what appears to be Vandal Hearts' Ash Lambert as a Vandalier, summoning Joshua to a new adventure.
  • Succession Crisis: Years before the events of Vandal Hearts II, King Zekras of Natra had two sons, Julius and Lagore; Julius, as the older of the two, was set to inherit the throne when his father died, but a Civil War broke out between the brothers from which Lagore emerged victorious. He only ruled for a few years before dying and leaving the throne to his young son Franz, with his widow Agatha ruling as regent. As the game opens, Agatha and her ally (and rumoured lover) Cardinal Ladorak are the de facto rulers, but when Julius' son Nicola returns from exile and the alliance between Agatha and Ladorak fractures at the end of the game's introductory chapter, things get complicated...
    • Agatha's armies withdraw to the west to form the kingdom of West Natra; the Twin Empire of Zora-Archeo agrees to support her in the fight against Ladorak in exchange for marrying her daughter, Minea, to the Emperor's son Gregor, who becomes the nominal king but is really just Agatha's puppet.
    • Nicola becomes king of East Natra, with the backing of Ladorak and the Vernantze Republic, but the cardinal is the real ruler. When Vernantze withdraws its support after Nicola sinks into debauchery and Godard comes forward with proof that Adele is Zekras' illegitimate daughter, Ladorak deposes Nicola in favour of Adele.
    • Meanwhile, King Franz is found alive but an Empty Shell by the game's protagonists, and military leader Baron Pratau installs him as the king of Central Natra. However, Godard's manipulations behind the scenes lead to Franz and Adele being shoved into an Arranged Marriage to unite Central and East Natra.
  • Sword of Plot Advancement: The Vandal Heart sword fills this role in the first game, as the characters need it to defeat the villains' Weapon of Mass Destruction. In the second game, finding the Vandal Heart sword is an optional subquest, not necessary for beating the game, but necessary for achieving the best ending. In Flames of Judgment, the sword is first forged during the game's climax.
  • Tactical Rock–Paper–Scissors: In the first game: Knights, Monks and Armors beat Archers, the Archers beat Airmen, and Airmen beat Knights and Monks. Priests and Mages beat Armors, but lose to Knights and Monks. Oh, and the secret Vandalier class whoops any- and everything that moves. The more poetic version, as delivered in game is:
    Sword defeats bow, bow defeats air and air defeats sword.
    Mages are weak but wise, armour is strong but slow and monks use word and claw.
  • Talking Is a Free Action: Comes up often in Vandal Hearts I and II, where characters frequently have long conversations in the middle of battle. Mostly averted in Flames of Judgment.
  • Teenage Wasteland: Most of the adult men in Flames of Judgment were killed in a war sixteen years before the game begins; thus, most of the characters are either very young, very old, female, or the scarred, middle-aged veterans of the war.
  • Terrible Trio: In Vandal Hearts II, Ladorak and Agatha each have a group of three enforcers. Ladorak's trio is led by Commander Jacob and includes the brawny Lieutenant Jamir and the agile Lieutenant Manonnote ; Agatha's trio is led by Doom the Thunder and includes Godeau the Grief and Thorpe the Gorgeous.
  • Tertiary Sexual Characteristics: In Vandal Hearts II, non-child female character models are drawn with red lips, distinguishing them from the males.
  • Time Skip: Following the killing of Lord Kossimo in Vandal Hearts II, the game skips ahead eight years as Joshua goes into hiding and becomes a mercenary.
  • Traintop Battle:
    • Vandal Hearts I includes one of these near the end, complete with the obligatory de-coupling train cars.
    • This happens twice in Vandal Hearts II.
      • After the Time Skip, the protagonists pull a Train Job, although most of the action takes place on the ground once the train has already stopped.
      • Later in the game, you get intercepted by Manon, second-in-command of East Natran Spec Ops. At that time, you are on a train. So is she, with a collapsible bridge that attaches to your train.
  • Transformation of the Possessed: In the final battle of Vandal Hearts II, Godard, who has taken over the body of King Franz, transforms into an enormous demon that takes up almost the entire battlefield. After he is beaten, he reappears as a partially-decomposed, multi-limbed version of Franz.
  • True Companions: A villainous version is the Crimson Guards in I, which Kane is a member of. Kane is a highly antagonistic asshole, but he really values the camaraderie between him and these friends: Sabina, Dallas, Kurtz and Lando. In fact, when the team ambushes Ash's team in the first chapter of the fourth act, Kane had to be the one reminding them that Ash's team just killed Lando in the last act and they must exact revenge, and he freely intruded in the battle against Sabina purely just to help her, no charges taken. Likewise, during his Last Stand, before going back to antagonize Ash, Kane actually prays for his fallen friends and father to give him the strength to prevail.
  • The Unfought: Hel Spites, the game's initial Big Bad, is assassinated by Dolf, the real Big Bad, in a cutscene.
  • Unstoppable Rage: After Eleanor's death in Flames of Judgment, Connor goes on a Roaring Rampage of Revenge, and can take out three or four enemies a turn if things go his way.
  • Utopia Justifies the Means:
    • In Vandal Hearts I, Hel Spites wants to bring about peace through forced unification.
    • In Flames of Judgment, Dumas believes that his experiments will force the coming of the Messianic Archetype.
  • Vendor Trash: Several items in the first and second games exist only to be sold. Not that it is a bad thing; what else would you have a piece of super expensive gold ingots, bullions and rare metals for? Though in the first game selling some means you can't get one of the Trial Keys to obtain the Vandalier class.
  • Walking the Earth: One of the endings of Vandal Hearts II finds Joshua running into Clive and Rosaly when he visits Adele's grave. He tells them that he feels unable to stay in one place for very long, and now spends his days travelling and doing occasional trading to keep himself financially stable. It is implied that staying on the move helps him to ease the pain of having been unable to save Adele.
  • Weaksauce Weakness: A-Magic Armor in the second game have a reasonably high defense and HP, but takes double damage from any and all kinds of elemental magic.
  • We Cannot Go On Without You: Most of the battles in all three games end if the main hero is defeated. Occasionally, the games suspend that rule, and include battles where the hero can "die," but another character can't.
  • Well-Intentioned Extremist:
    • Defense Minister Hel Spites in Vandal Hearts I manipulates his way into becoming Emperor, but his ultimate goal is to bring peace to the continent by uniting it under a single government.
    • Queen Agatha in Vandal Hearts II kills her husband, King Lagore, and brainwashes her son, King Franz, so that she can be the real string-puller in the Natra government. However, her real goal is to use the power of the Natra military to break apart the Twin Empire of Zora-Archeo and free Archeo, her native land, from Zora's oppressive rule.
    • Daldren Gray in Flames of Judgment wants to wipe out a rival country in a quick, brutal campaign — because if he doesn't conquer their fields, his country will starve.
  • "Where Are They Now?" Epilogue: All three games include a glimpse of each character's future during the ending sequence.
    • Highlights include leading governments, marrying sweethearts, becoming important political figures, following ambitions all the way to... having an Archbishop of near unrivalled magical power working in a bakery (so she can be near her Love Interest), and her only rival for such powers working on a stamp collection. Granted though, he's old.
    • The "stamp collection" ending is spoofed in Flames of Judgment. "So what're you gonna do when this is over?" "I don't know. Start a stamp collection?" "No, seriously."
    • The second was more pessimistic, as is the whole universe. Your mentor-like figure and politician ends up assassinated, and one of your party members disappears to Walk the Earth. Others do get a more fitting end as your Funny Foreigner of a friend eventually leads the rebellion that freed his land, and the resident lecher ironically marries his Slap-Slap-Kiss, controlling girlfriend.
  • Year Inside, Hour Outside: Vandal Hearts I - After spending one day in a parallel universe, Ash and his friends return to find three years have passed in their time. And Zohar said they're lucky, they could've ended up in a thousand years in the future.


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