Vigil: The Longest Night Review
Developer: Glass Heart Games Publisher: Another Indie Release: 14 October 2020 Reviewed On: PC
Welcome to our Vigil: The Longest Night review, where we discuss our experience of the new indie adventure from Glass Heart Games and Another Indie.
In the world of gaming there are some badges of honor that games proudly display to give players an indication of their pedigree. One of these badges is that of “souls-like”, in other words, games that reflect something of the insane difficulty and expert level design found in games such as Demon Souls, Dark Souls, and Bloodborne. For many games, the “souls-like” badge of honor is enough to persuade potential players to buy the game. Vigil: The Longest Night is like one of those kids at school that had a blazer so full of badges you were immediately aware of your peasant status. Badges of honor such as souls-like, Metroidvania, atmospheric, horror, unique art style, epic bosses, and exploration dot Vigil The Longest Night’s blazer, but there are a few badges missing such as polish. Nothing that can’t be fixed with a patch or two, but missing, nonetheless.
In our Vigil: The Longest Night review we will look at why many of these badges are completely warranted and deserved and how they elevate the different parts of the game to justify the score we award. We will also look at some issues we had while playing the game and discuss if you should be worried about these flaws in an otherwise excellent game. With that said, let’s dive into our review of Vigil: The Longest Night, reviewed on PC with a controller.
Taking our first steps
Our first play session with Vigil: The Longest Night saw almost four hours disappear as the game drew us into its web of mystery and tiny dopamine spikes. This was the first time in quite a while that a game managed to captivate us in the way Vigil did during that first session. We were completely enthralled with the narrative of Vigil, and it is not because of the quality of writing or the deep character exploration. It is because of the mystery, and the utter lack of hand-holding.
References to the Soulsborne games are inevitable, and the DIY nature of storytelling in these games is expertly translated and implemented in Vigil The Longest Night. Simply playing through the game and keeping to the main quest gives you enough story to be satisfying, but you find the real meat of the narrative as you explore every nook and cranny the game has to offer. Like the Soulsborne games, you uncover small excerpts from journals, scribbles, and other crude messaging devices that each reveal a tiny bit of lore. These work together to build a stronger narrative experience and ultimately fleshes out the mystery without evaporating it completely.
Since we already mentioned exploration, we need to emphasise how outstanding it is in Vigil The Longest Night. The amount of additional exploration you can do is comprehensive and well rewarded. Exploration is not simply an arbitrary activity to mindlessly complete as you move through the game. It requires a keen eye to spot well-hidden ledges that lead to potentially awesome treasures. More often than not, we were truly happy with our rewards for exploring the environment. One such instance is a secret floor you can drop through in the Miner’s dormitory, here you find a hidden cave filled with the stones you need to upgrade your weapons. You later learn of this room from the miners you save, but having those upgrades before you hit the mines is handy.
There are also several side quests that reward exploration, and these include collecting lost paintings for the painter and saving all the miners from the mines. The rewards for completing these exploration-based quests are quite decent and well worth your time. Overall, exploration is satisfying and the game finds multiple ways to reward you for doing so. One of these unexpected but welcome features of the game is buying a house in the town of Maye. If you are diligent in your exploration of each area, you will find lots of decorations for your home. Once you save up enough cash to actually buy it, you can show off your trophies in glorious style.
Combat and bosses
Our Vigil: The Longest Night review is not solely focused on exploration and narrative, we had to do a fair share of fighting to make progress. Referring back to our badges of honour intro, wearing the badge of “souls-like” doesn’t just mean the game is difficult. It also means the combat is tight and responsive, and learning attack patterns is key to survival.
Referring to the latter part of that statement, we can say that this was true and very important. Playing on hard meant that taking hits was fatal in most cases and taking more than one hit was fatal in almost all cases. Every new enemy type encountered meant we had to take a moment and observe their attacks to preserve our healing potions and sanity. We are happy to report that enemies have enough variations in their attack patterns that they felt distinct when fighting them, and that combat remained engaging throughout the experience.
As for combat being tight and responsive, this was true for the most part. As you unlock more moves by leveling up your character, which doesn’t take too long to happen, combat becomes way more fun. Initially, you have a few basic attack combos, and if this was the be-all-end-all of the experience it would have been pretty bleak. Luckily, the different weapon types and combos give you enough ways to dispatch your enemies. During our playthrough we didn’t have any issues with hit boxes being dodgy, or iframes not registering, and combat felt superb. The only frustration was the sometimes over-emphasised movement during the use of abilities or dodging. This meant that we fell to our death more that intended because a move or dodge took us over an edge we thought we would never cross.
Combat during our playtime for this review of Vigil: The Longest Dark was enjoyable, but the best parts are undoubtedly the epic boss battles. Bosses are all visually impressive, and most of them are truly grotesque creatures of darkness. If I remember correctly, we fought 14 or 15 bosses during our playthrough and apart from the humanoid bosses, the others were the pinnacle of horror from each area of the game. Not only do they look cool, but most of the bosses are also actually fun to fight.
You can easily die if you button mash a boss, so you will have to get used to their unique movesets and learn where your openings are. Like the Soulsborne bosses, taking them down is satisfying, but in Vigil the difficulty is not as insane. We were surprised by the first boss as you encounter it within minutes of starting the game. It was a good intro to the rest of the game in terms of difficulty and how harshly you are punished for getting hit. Most of the other bosses gave us a decent fight except for AndriAnDyloncholas, which was the worst boss by far.
Up until this point in our review, we have sung the praises of the Vigil: The Longest Night as a truly fantastic game. It does however have some flaws, most are minor, but one area warrants discussion. The game seriously lacks polish. We are not referring to the fragmented narrative as we felt this is by design, but rather the language and grammar editing. Dialogue, loading screens, and descriptions are littered with grammar and spelling mistakes, up to where it was simply immersion breaking in some cases. For a game that relies on its atmosphere as much as Vigil: The Longest Night does, this is a massive disappointment.
To conclude our review for Vigil: The Longest Night, we summarise our thoughts. Vigil: The Longest Night is an excellent indie game, and you can slap whichever tags, labels, and badges you want on it, it doesn’t change the fact that the game is immersive, rewarding, and worth playing. Apart from the lack of polish, it does an outstanding job of building a truly horrific world for players to explore, with enough surprises and mystery to make the 15-20 hour playthrough well worth your time.
Thanks to the publisher Another Indie for a Vigil: The Longest Night review code.