Vandal Hearts (ヴァンダルハーツ) is a turn-based tactical role-playing video game developed by Konami Computer Entertainment Tokyo for the PlayStation and later ported to the Sega Saturn by Konami Computer Entertainment Nagoya. The PlayStation version was distributed in Japan, North America, and Europe. The Saturn version was only released in Japan. There was also a Microsoft Windows version developed and released in South Korea.
The game spawned a sequel, Vandal Hearts II, also for the PlayStation. A prequel, Vandal Hearts: Flames of Judgment was created for the PlayStation Network and Xbox Live Arcade. In 2004 Konami announced a Vandal Hearts game for the Nintendo DS, but it was later cancelled.
Gameplay is carried out through an isometric viewpoint. Battles are carried out on a series of grid maps, which include cells not accessible like water, trees and buildings. Although the environment is three dimensional with a perspective that can be rotated by the player, the characters are two dimensional sprites. A character’s movement allowance for a turn can be used all at once or split, between two or more movements. Turns are on a side-by-side basis; the player moves all of their characters before the AI is allowed to take its turn.
Most stages are completed by killing all the enemy characters. Other stages have different victory conditions, such as killing one particular enemy character, moving characters to a specific location on the map, or killing certain enemies while saving others. In every battle, the death of the party leader results in an immediate loss. Losing other characters in the party causes the loss of gold. The character is gone from the current stage and can return in the next stage. On stages that include rescuing other characters, the death of these characters also results in a loss.
A variety of characters join the battle party throughout the course of the game. Every character fits into one of seven character classes: Swordsman, Armor, Archer, Hawknight, Monk, Mage and Cleric. The strengths of each class are determined through a hierarchy similar to the hand game Rock, Paper, Scissors (and Fire Emblem: Genealogy of the Holy War, another tactical role-playing game released in 1996): melee fighters (such as Swordsmen and Armors) are most effective when fighting against Archers. Archers are most effective when fighting against airborne characters such as Hawknights. Hawknights are most effective when fighting against Swordsmen. The other three classes are magic-users: the Monk pairs healing magic with average physical strength, where the Mage specializes in attack magic, and the Cleric specializes in healing magic. In addition, Mages are also most effective against Armor. Most magic-using classes have weak defensive capabilities when compared to other classes in the game and most attacking magic spells are stronger against heavily armored opponents.