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Online Version
Play this game in your Web browser.
Vambrace.zip *
Contains Vambrace​_231124.ulx
The latest release. Contains the browser version, a standalone Glulx game file, and ROT13 hints.
Requires a Glulx interpreter. Visit IFWiki for download links.
Original IF Comp version *
Contains The Vambrace of Destiny/Vambrace​_230922.ulx
Requires a Glulx interpreter. Visit IFWiki for download links.
Walkthrough and maps
by David Welbourn
* Compressed with ZIP. Free Unzip tools are available for most systems at www.info-zip.org.

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The Vambrace of Destiny

by Arthur DiBianca profile


(based on 21 ratings)
6 reviews

About the Story

A light dungeon crawl. Tap spell gems to defeat monsters!

In this game, all your commands are single keystrokes. You don't even have to press the enter key.

Game Details


5th Place - 29th Annual Interactive Fiction Competition (2023)

Winner, Outstanding RPG of 2023 - The 2023 IFDB Awards


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Number of Reviews: 6
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Most Helpful Member Reviews

3 of 3 people found the following review helpful:
A fun dungeon adventure!, November 13, 2023
by manonamora
Related reviews: ifcomp

The Vambrace of Destiny is a dungeon crawler adventure, with limited commands and filled with puzzles. You must go through the different levels of the dungeon, fight monsters, discover treasures, and gather all the spells.

I did not reach the ending. The current review only account for what was played.

Until I reached the second level and was essentially stuck, banging my head against the wall because I could not solve the puzzles, TVoD was quite an enjoyable light parser (especially for a parser-adverse/noob like me). It has limited commands, which are essentially shortcuts; a visible map on the screen (at least in the play online version), which showed where you are and what rooms you discovered, and reasonable logical puzzles (even the one I got stuck on...), and hints (external document).

The logic of the game is relatively simple: explore the dungeon, find a monster but can't fight it, explore some more, find a spell, fight the monster with the spell, go to the next bit. As you advance further, the puzzles require extra steps to be solved, often with combinations of actions or "passing a turn". Even if some puzzles required retracing your steps to unlock further parts, they were quite enjoyable to solve!

I still spent enough time faffing about, pressing the wrong direction on the screen, or forgetting to press a certain command, or just not getting the puzzle, that the clock ran out before I could reach the end. Starting level 2, the puzzles leave the beginner level... I think I managed to visit 1/3 to 1/2 of the rooms of level 2 before I gave up.

Still, I had quite a bit of fun, and breaking through the blocks on the path, defeating the monsters, and finding the treasures, were pretty satisfying! Level 1 is a hoot!
I really appreciated the simple commands (the investigrab especially!) and how merciful the game was (you might not manage to solve a puzzle or finish the game, but you won't die).

I want to revisit this game down the line (aka when a walkthrough drop - the hints are not enough for a noob), because I really want to reach the end.

[Originally played on 1-Oct during the IFComp]

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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful:
Single-key dungeon crawler with increasingly complex powers, November 22, 2023
by MathBrush
Related reviews: about 2 hours

This game by Arthur DiBianca has you exploring a multi-layered dungeon while collecting glowing gems of mysterious power (which are attached to the titular Vambrace).

Its big innovation is that there is no need to hit enter; one key is one action. This isn’t the very first game I’ve seen do this (there was a game in this year’s Parsercomp with the same concept), but I think the execution is great here. I feel like care was made to make the commands easier to remember, and I like the gradual reveal of more and more powers/keys.

Making a game like this takes a lot of talent and skill. I recently tried adding a ‘limited command’ section in my own game, specifically emulating Arthur DiBianca, and it was by far the hardest part to code: coming up with interesting puzzles, doing a lot of timing and such. It’s quite hard.

But it comes off great here. Most of the puzzles involve defeating foes or traps in a multi-layer dungeon, and my favorite type of puzzles in the game is where you come across a foe or trap and think, ‘I know exactly what I need to solve this, but I don’t have the capability.’ Then later, you get a new power, and you can run back to the earlier area and solve it.

This author has a lot of good games, but I’d put this in the top third or fourth of all his games.

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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful:
Pauldron of peril, gorget of glory, November 30, 2023
by Mike Russo (Los Angeles)
Related reviews: IF Comp 2023

(This is a lightly-edited version of a review I posted to the IntFiction forums during 2023's IFComp).

It’s probably the dream of most IF authors to be a prolific writer of high-quality games, but contemplating the oeuvre of Arthur DiBianca, who’s perhaps comes as close to that ideal as anybody currently working, I wonder whether there’s a downside to such consistency. Does there ever come a point where the audience starts to take you for granted, and greet each new work with a simple “ho hum, here’s yet another really fun Arthur DiBianca game”? I hope that’s not the case, but I have to say, I was not the slightest bit surprised to find that Vambrance of Destiny is pretty great.

Like pretty much all of his work, this is a limited parser game, one that specifically feels like an iteration on last year’s IFComp entry, Trouble in Sector 471. Like in that game, here we’ve got a nicely-realized minimap, a metroidvania explore-to-upgrade-to-explore-more structure, and a main objective that’s largely advanced by using your abilities to beat baddies. Here, though, the robot-topia of Section 471 is swapped for the aesthetics of dungeon-crawling fantasy; plotwise, you’ve got to delve into an ancient ruin to beat up a rogue wizard and reclaim his stolen staff of power, and ability-wise, you’ve got the eponymous arm-armor, which evinces various spell-like abilities as you fill its various receptacles with magical gems. There’s also a cool tech upgrade this time out, which is that the game is played with single keypresses – no need to type out full commands or even hit enter – which is a nice convenience (the tilde key allows access to SAVE, LOAD, and other systems commands, though).

The story and writing are relatively minimal – the Foozle shows up a couple times to taunt you, but otherwise this is a simple get-to-the-end-to-beat-the-boss affair, while the absence of an EXAMINE action helps keep the location descriptions tight and focused. They work well for what they are, don’t get me wrong, but like most of DiBianca’s games, VoD lives and dies by its puzzles. And unsurprisingly, they’re really quite well done.

The process of getting new capabilities via gem upgrades is always fun, of course, and you get to master a fun set of spells over the course of the game, from elemental attacks to teleports to summoning spells. Having spent a bunch of time recently assessing the design of limited-parser games, I’m increasingly of the mind that the key challenge is to avoid the lawnmowering problem – that is, making it too tempting for the player to make progress simply by running through all the different options at their disposal whenever they hit an obstacle, rather than engaging with the puzzle and trying to solve it. Vambrance avoids this pitfall handily; the challenges progress nicely as you go, with straightforward one-spell-required obstacles soon giving way to more complex ones that require an extended sequence of different spells, or have timing elements that require you to wait or otherwise pay attention before spamming different actions. This variety of strategies keeps things fresh, and means that spamming all the spells in turn eventually becomes tedious and unproductive.

Of course, there’s also a risk of making challenges too complex – which is just that a game becomes too hard. VoD generally stays on the right side of this line, too. I struggled a bit with some of the multi-step solutions in Sector 471, but generally had an easier time here, I think because the game does a great job providing feedback for when you’re on the right track or have come up with a partial solution. As with most of DiBianca’s games, the most esoteric puzzles are mostly saved for optional side-objectives (here, there are a dozen bonus treasures to collect along the way to the big boss, in keeping with the dungeon crawl theme). That said, while I did complete all the puzzles, both the critical path and the optional ones, I did wind up going to the hints more than a few times towards the end – ultimately, you wind up accumulating over a dozen different ability-gems, some of which are fairly involved to use (like the one that enables you to temporarily teleport in one of a half-dozen different objects), which feels like it starts to strain at the borders of how limited a limited-parser game can be.

Still, even the puzzles I got hints on were well-clued in retrospect, and fun to solve. The climactic fight with the rogue wizard is also a really good time. It maybe doesn’t play completely fair, I have to admit -- (Spoiler - click to show)you need to beat him in a spell duel, and after a warm-up round where he throws things with obvious counters at you, and then starts mixing in ones that require extrapolation from puzzles you’ve previously solved, to a final set that actively mislead you, telegraphing one vulnerability only to reveal a different, hidden one after you fail to stop it. This means that victory will almost certainly require an initial loss or two so you can memorize how to respond to these tricky ones, albeit trying again just takes half a dozen turns -- but since the whole sequence winds up being an enjoyable set piece, this notional violation of good game design principles winding up eminently forgivable.

All of which is to say: ho hum, here’s another really fun Arthur DiBianca game. Yawn. Can’t wait to see what he’s going to do next year!

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The Vambrace of Destiny on IFDB

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