Vay (Sega CD) review
The term ďHidden gemĒ is something that comes to mind when you first see Vay for the first time. It has all of the necessary elements for that categorisation. Itís part of the Working Designs collection of Sega CD RPGs. Two of them were Lunar titles, a series that gained popularity for its appearance on the Sony Playstation and now have cult followings. Both Lunar titles on the Sega CD, especially the second game, were probably the best the system offered and utilized the systems gimmicks of CD quality sound and animated cut scenes perfectly.
It's just so disappointing to see Vay miss the mark everytime.
Itís not that Vay is particularly bad or does anything too offensive. It just doesnít have the ability to keep up with its siblings. Its style taken almost directly from Segaís Shining Force series but has its own interesting twist of melding together sword and sorcery with science fiction.
A mysterious robotic suit appears from space and wrecks havoc onto the world. Five powerful magicians band together and seal it away by using five magical orbs . Years later, a fleet of robots from the mysterious Danek empire attack the wedding of the main protagonist, Prince Sandor. They destroy his castle, kill his father and abduct his fiancť. It turns out that the robots of the Danek empire are attempting to free the terrifying mechanical monstrosity from imprisonment. Prince Sandor sets out for revenge and solve the mystery to why this monster has been released.
Once in the world, youíre out doing fairly typical roleplaying. Some of the common problems that many subpar RPGís have are prevalent here also. High encounter rate, a slow plodding avatar and relentless grinding. Of course, these things can pay off very well if you have the fortitude to put yourself through the gauntlet. However, with some boss encounters in the later game being particularly brutal, Iíd recommend filling up that coffee machine, because youíre in for long night!
Another annoying issue that that sets this game back is the brutal magic system. All of your party are able to wield various offensive and healing spells for battle. The problem is that a lot of these spells are named cryptically and youíd wonít know their effects until used in battle. To an extent, this is fine but if youíre trying to progress or in the middle of boss encounter, it can be a pain if you execute an ineffective spell and waste two turns trying to restore your MP and heal up any injured companions. Other games are guilty of doing this too but most of them are part of beloved franchises and are able to invoke a feeling of familiarity when you play them. Since Vay is a one shot deal, it cant really pull off this effectively.
The aesthetics of Vay are another unfortunate setback. Iíve already mentioned the similiary to Shining Force, which is not necessarily a bad comparison, but something about it feels off. If this had been a 1991 Mega Drive title, then it would be difficult to really critique but for an enhanced title on the Sega CD itís very subpar. The colours are vivid and the enemy sprites have a charming and almost cutesy appearance. The enemies are made of your standard archetypes of slime, slugs, goblins and robotic monstrosities. One that stands out is a dopey minotaur- like creature called the RETARDTAUR(Things were different in the 90ís) which is an amusing twist, despite its political incorrectness.
One final gripe I have is this gameís inability to take itself seriously. Iím aware that Iím playing a light hearted one shot fantasy game but would it hurt for a little worldbuilding?? This game has a lot of immersion breaking humour that falls flat and just seems unnecessary. Other Working Design titles do this too but you could tolerate it to an extent because the overall quality of the game made it easy to shrug off. Vay does not have that privilege. It takes a huge risk with attempting to be humorous and fails. I wouldnít say it has a serious impact on its playability but it just feels off somewhat.
Vay uses the capabilities of the Sega CD to use animated FMV scenes to aid progress with the story. However, I find that even these are not animated particularly well and are very minimalistic. Iíve seen far better attempts on other games by the same developers on the same console! The voice acting is awful too. It doesnít really pull it off in a way that could be considered kitsch or amusing, itís just banal.
Thereís just not much going on with Vay. Thereís nothing about thatís interesting for it to stand out alongside its contemporaries. Itís slugglish, crude and primitive, when it should be innovative. Any positive features that Vay has rely on a basic grasp of the fundamental core concepts for a game of its genre. Its only purpose is to fill the shelf of the most dedicated collector or to satisfy the curiosity of the enthusiastic obscure RPG aficionado. Unfortunately, both of these types of people will remain disappointed.
Community review by Vorty (March 09, 2023)
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