Vigil: The Longest Night Review - Saltyvania
Updated: Jul 7
Vigil: The Longest Night looks like a Salt & Sanctuary clone, but it skews much more towards the vania side of the soulsvania equation than S&S did. It has an absolutely sprawling world full of sidequests, secrets, and optional encounters, and there are all kinds of items and equipment you can find to change up your playstyle. There are entire dungeons that you can skip if you choose to or, less positively, if you inadvertently hit certain plot triggers too soon. It isn't always obvious when you're about to do something that will end the current act, and even though you never truly get locked out of any past areas, you absolutely will fail loads of current and future quests if you beat some bosses too soon. It really could've used a helpful "make sure you've finished all your business!" NPC in some areas.
Some of the fights are very fun and the enemy designs are often memorable, but you'll be disappointed if you're looking for anything particularly difficult. Hammers have a tremendous amount of stun power that completely trivializes almost all encounters with regular enemies. In most games there'd be a tradeoff here where they'd slow you down so much that it became difficult to dodge the attacks of sturdier enemies, but in Vigil it's still pretty easy to avoid everything bosses can throw at you. The final bosses have a bit more success landing attacks, but even then you can tear through their health so quickly that they're still not much of a problem.
The story was promising at first and did a good job of establishing character relationships that made the setting more believable. I particularly enjoyed the way the villagers know the villain is among them, but can never agree on who it actually is. Alas, it all goes off the rails in the end and hardly makes any sense at all by the final act. The story is told directly through dialogue instead of vague item descriptions like in Souls games (although it has vague item descriptions as well), but even so it can be hard to tell what's going on. It may work somewhat better in the original Traditional Chinese text. Still, while there are some clear translation issues here and there, I suspect the story troubles are more because of pacing than anything else.
The low difficulty and nonsensical story hold it back from even getting close to the same heights as Hollow Knight, but as long as neither of those flaws is an experience-killer for you, the rest of it is solid. Approach it as an exploration-first metroidvania that happens to look like a Souls-like and you'll have a good time.
Time to beat: ~10 hours for a reasonably high completion percentage. Doing everything in one run would take maybe 20, and full achievements might get to 30 over multiple playthroughs.
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