Vambrace: Cold Soul – How the Graphically Stunning Roguelike Fantasy RPG Evolved Over Many Years

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Vambrace: Cold Soul has been a long time coming. That is, the original concept is nearly 19 years in the making. In his youth, Minho Kim, lead artist and CEO of Devespresso Games, often worked on the conjured world of Icenaire as a form of escapism. He populated the realm with a variety of interesting characters and dramatic events.

Most elements were loosely connected, while others found more solid form through discussions in Korean online forums. In there, he shared his art with other high-fantasy enthusiasts. They eagerly contributed to this ever evolving patchwork world. He even illustrated avatars for the most dedicated participants. Through the years, he honed his skill with pen and pencil. And though he would work on many new projects, Icenaire would remain a fond one. He eventually moved into the esoteric realm of game development.

Tristan Lee Riven, game designer and COO at Devespresso Games recounts the dramatic shift. “I somehow managed to convinced Minho to join me in this harebrained attempt to make our own game. That’s despite the fact we had no experience or knowledge of how to do so under our belts.”

The two had met in Seoul, South Korea, when Tristan happened to walk by and see Minho working on some drawings. “I invited him for a coffee and we had a discussion about his art and some of my own ideas. Everything clicked right away. We both just enjoyed the creative process of making new worlds together,” Tristan recalled. The team eventually managed to figure out the complex logistics of shipping an actual game. After completing their first title, The Coma: Cutting Class, Minho’s new priority was returning to the land of Icenaire he had been working on for so long.

“When we sat down and started discussing this world, I was amazed by the volume of art that he had already made. He had hundreds of sketches and colored pictures of settings, characters, creatures, and items. It was easy to get a grasp of this place that had, for the most part, only existed in his imagination,” Tristan said.

Tristan began work on a solid story within this setting. The most important features he wanted to weave into the new game were the underground city of Dalearch, the frozen city of Icenaire, the Green Flame (the game’s primary antagonists), and certain key characters (such as Zaquard). He tactfully incorporated these elements into the narrative and then worked with Minho to craft the world’s update look.

Vambrace: Cold Soul is the culmination of all this effort. The team takes great pride in the fact they have chosen to focus on narrative-driven, hand-illustrated games. But one need only look at some of the old art to see what inspired the atmosphere and style of the soon to be released game thanks to Headup and Devespresso Games. The roguelike fantasy adventure will come to PC and Mac on 25th April, with Nintendo Switch, PlayStation®4 and Xbox One following in Q3 2019.