Review | ArcaniA: The Complete Tale
It’s been interesting reviewing Arcania: The Complete Tale given what else has recently released.
It’s hard not comparing ArcaniA to titles like The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt. After all, they’re the same genre, came out a week apart and, I’m surprised to say, I’ve enjoyed both, if not for completely different reasons.
The story revolves around your hero wanting revenge after a maniacal king sends his troops to torch and loot his home village. However, he soon finds out that deeper evil is controlling the king, and his quests turns to stopping this overall evil.
The plot is predictable, and really just serves to give you a reason to move to the next area. I really didn’t pay attention to it, instead just grabbing whatever quests I could find in an area, slaughter anything in my way between the points, complete the tasks and get my rewards before moving on.
A disappointing thing I noticed about the quests is trying to track them. Compared to a lot of other games in the genre, it doesn’t give a great tracking system. The items or monsters needed are tracked, but aren’t shown on the map unless you’ve uncovered that part of the map or just stumble into the area. That can lead to a lot of blind wandering until you get lucky, wasting extra time.
You shouldn’t waste a lot of time though. Even with the tracking issues, maps are artificially large. Most missions just follow the main path, with caves littered here and there to explore for some items. The rest of the map is mainly fluff, filled with ingredients you can harvest or enemies to kill. Occasionally you’ll find a hidden artifact or rune that’s part of some overarching quests, but unless you’re interested in 100 percent there’s not much reason to hunt down all of these items.
You will spend a lot of time backtracking though. There’s a very limited fast travel system that consists of teleporters that take you between two different spots. Teleporters don’t connect with each other across the world, meaning if you want to go to a previous area you better get to running. Not only that, but some teleporters are put in weird spots. Two early on are by a tavern and fishing huts, which is only about a minute run from each other, yet no teleporters are by the caves across the map.
Combat is simplistic in the game. There’s a melee attack, which can be timed to do bigger flurry attacks if you unlock that perk, dodge, ranged attack and magic attack. That’s all you need. Enemies are pretty dimwitted as well, allowing you to just constantly beat them down, sometimes without even countering. There were a few boss battles that gave me problems, mainly because of quick health draining attributes on weapons, but pretty much everything was a breeze to go through.
The game does do away with some action RPG tropes that I approve of, though. You have no weight limit when carrying items, so hoard whatever you want. In addition, merchants have no limit on gold, so you can unload everything you don’t need on the first merchant you come by and start building up again to sell more later on. Often, merchants won’t have anything worthwhile except for the occasional recipe to learn, so I mainly just stocked up on cash in case I ever needed something big.
ArcaniA also doesn’t make you work for levels. By just killing the trash mobs the game throws at you, you can get almost 100 XP per kill. In an hour, you can easily gain a few levels. In the time it takes me to gain five levels in most games, I easily doubled that here.
Sure, it may seem unbalanced, but it makes easier to breeze through areas and move on.
Unlike The Witcher 3 which can take a few hundred hours and leave you wanting more, ArcaniA can probably be wrapped up in a dozen hours. Each area only has a few side quests that can be completed with the main quest as you move on, and you seldom have a reason to backtrack to earlier levels in the game, unless you’re trying to find all the game’s secrets.
What I enjoyed most about the game is the lack of seriousness the game has about itself. The hero has plenty of sarcasm to dole out to some quest givers, and even some people and guards really don’t care about the hero, tossing out snide comments behind his back.
Plus, when you have quests about “becoming” an orc by taking their name amulet or getting hog nuts (not actual hog nuts, but nuts they ate), you have to think that the team decided to go more of the comedic route on purpose.
It’s also mindless fun for me to play ArcaniA. In The Witcher 3, I have to think out what paths to take, what to avoid, what quests to do and the best way to slay beasts. In ArcaniA, I can sit back and just mow down enemies, level up, do a few quests and move on, no thought or strategy required.
Graphically, the game definitely has suffered. It’s a direct port from the PS3 version, with glitches and all. Sometimes, a cloud will glitch out, or a part of a rock will be missing, letting you see the world below. They aren’t terrible glitches, but enough to make you laugh and shake your head. The graphics aren’t terrible, but they are definitely dated.
The same can be said with the voices. The lead always seems like there are better places he can be, even though his village is murdered early on. There’s no pain in his voice or urgency to get his revenge, just a resigned fate to accept the next quest thrown his way and move forward.
ArcaniA: The Complete Tale is a simple time-waster. If you’re looking for an in-depth story or complicated combat and systems, you won’t find it here. Instead, you’ll find a simplistic action RPG title to waste a weekend with, enjoying that the game doesn’t take itself seriously and will give you a laugh along the way, even if it doesn’t mean to.