Vagrant Story Analysis

Vagrant Story is a game that deserved much more mainstream success than it received. The reason for this is most probably the fact it was released on the Playstation towards the very end of its life, as well as because the game had no previously established brand associated with it. Despite this, the game has managed to develop something of a cult following and scored tremendously well with critics, even garnering a perfect score with Famitsu.

Vagrant Story Opening Dawn

Vagrant Story Overview

Vagrant Story follows the story of Ashley Riot, an agent who has been sent on a mission to capture the mysterious cult leader Sydney Losstarot. His mission leads him on a chase to a dangerous city swelling with magical powers named Lea Monde, along with many other characters of various factions as well as the odd rogue or two.

Vagrant Story Characters

Ashley Riot

Vagrant Story’s Ashley Riot is an interesting protagonist as he does not seem to have a particular ideological perspective informing his actions. This is interesting for the simple reason that the story takes into account that it is a video game and Ashley is partially under the control of the story tellers, ala the developers, and partially under player control. The following will contain spoilers for those that have not played the game through.

Vagrant Story Ashley Riot

Ashley Riot General Characteristics

Ashley Riot is a member of an elite group called Riskbreakers, named so because they are picked based on their manner of breaking the statistical risk of a mission failing time and again. Ashley’s ability to repeatedly survive is linked to his ability to remain emotionally detached and logical in situations.

Ashley Riot and the Player

One of the most interesting things about Ashley Riot as a character is the manner in which he represents both himself and the person playing. Sydney Losstarot notes this when he informs Ashley that his soul is detached from his body like a Knight in a child’s book, in other words he is like a fictional character being directed by some other force. This other force is, of course, the person playing the game. The player is thus Ashley Riot’s soul.

Ashley Riot’s History

Ashley Riot’s history is left somewhat vague. At first it is revealed that he lost his family to a pack of bandits, which is one possibility. Another, more likely, possibility revealed by Sydney and Rosencrantz is that he was the one that murdered the family in a political assassination alongside his partner Rosencrantz. This idea is more likely for the simple reason that Ashley has a collection of skills associated with being an assassin.

Ashley’s Character Design

Ashley has a strange character design, especially for a lead character. Overall, it appears the developers have gone for function in his clothes design rather than appearance, which makes sense. He does, however, wear a necklace which is said to be from his wife Tia.

Romeo Guildenstern

Vagrant Story’s Guildenstern remains one of the more interesting and believable characters in a video game due to his ideology based perspective.

Vagrant Story's Guildenstern

Guildenstern’s General Characteristics

Romeo Guildenstern has a mixed set of characteristics, some he shows those around him and others he keeps very much to himself. To others, he gives the appearance of a noble holy knight intending to destroy the evil of Lea Monde and prevent Sydney from accessing its power. However, he hides his abilities to control the dark and use its power, which seem to rival or even best Sydney Lasstarot.

Guildenstern’s Dream

Guildenstern dreams of bringing an unbending and all powerful justice to the world by wielding the powers of the city of Lea Monde. He despises those that exploit others to to gain power or wealth, believing them to be a parasite that needs to be cut from the world. In a manner of speaking, he is a legalist that believes in a harsh system of laws that are impossible to bend.

Guildenstern as Inverse of Rosencrantz

Guildenstern and Rozencrantz both have some things in common in that they do not reveal their true motives to others, letting others believe them to be something they are not. However, Guildenstern is the complete inverse of Rosencrantz in that Guildenstern has a moral plan to benefit humanity, even at cost to himself, whereas Rosencrantz is really just in it for himself.

Guildenstern Character Design

Guildenstern’s character design is interesting for a number of reasons. Firstly, he has a very specific set of colors associated with him that often are aligned with danger. For example, the fabric of his clothing is white, red and black. This is most probably meant to represent the manner in which his black and white world view will result in blood. Secondly, he tends to stare and have a generally statue-like demeanor, displaying his extreme focus and fanatical devotion to his dream. Thirdly, he seems to have a slight base in Kenneth Branagh’s portrayal of Hamlet.


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