Review: Arcania: The Complete Tale Feels Like a Poor Man's Skyrim
I received a copy of Arcania: The Complete Tale for PlayStation 3 in order to review it. This new bundling is actually Arcania: Gothic 4 bundled with The Fall of Setarrif add-on. As I am a huge fan of Skyrim-like RPG’s, I was eager to start playing this indie game.
The first thing that came to mind as I began playing Arcania: The Complete Tale is that it seems to be taking a page from the ever-popular Skyrim and games like it. But where Skyrim excels (most namely in graphics and story), this game ends up with a lot less attention to details - and sometimes details are important.
Arcania: The Complete Tale tells a story that RPG fans are already familiar with. It’s the story of a chosen one who has to suffer great loss in order to begin his quest and fulfil his destiny. This man, in Arcania, isn’t quite as interesting as a Dragonborne, but is so-well voice-acted that you can forgive him that. The story of Arcania, though, is much more linear, however, with only a few side quests that deviate from the main plot.
Let’s start with the good. Gameplay actually clocks in at around 35 hours total, which is nearly twice as long as I would have expected. I filled many an otherwise-bored hour in Arcania: The Complete Tale, exploring the world (where I could) and running through quests. As an independent RPG, I expected only about 10 hours of gameplay, so was pleasantly surprised in this aspect.
Although the quests seemed standard, nearly generic, I still enjoyed doing them. I quickly grew to like the main character that I was playing and the only thing that would have made him better was if there was any character customization. I usually prefer to customize characters in these sorts of games and generally like to play female, if possible. But this doesn’t take away from the gaming experience.
Lockpicking is something that every RPG possesses and this game is no exception. I liked the lockpicking device here. It’s all about lining up the key-shaped holes and requires good timing. It was different than anything I had previously played.
Crafting is also good, although I don’t particularly spend a lot of time doing that in RPG’s (I prefer to gather ingredients and sell them off and just buy the potions, weapons, etc. that I need). There are plenty of recipes available throughout the world created here and putting things together is as easy as hitting “Select” and then choosing “Crafting.”
Arcania: The Complete Tale also features the staple of all such gaming experiences: magic. Unfortunately, magic doesn’t seem to be something you can learn, but it’s something you have to possess scrolls for. They aren’t too widely scattered throughout the universe, so in my playthrough, magic took a back seat to creating a character that was more tank and less wizard.
Although the game does play out in a linear fashion, there is still some opportunity for exploration. There are lots of items and treasure chests to find tucked away in little corners of the map (which is quite extensive) or hidden in buildings and the loot is generally quite good.
Combat is standard, but nothing to write home about. It works pretty much like every other similar game in this genre. I did not find any real issues with it and liked the challenge that it offered during gameplay. Fighting did get increasingly more difficult towards the end of the game, which is as to be expected. Fortunately, with a little strategy, most fights won’t end in hair pulling and controller throwing. But expect to die at least a few times before you catch on to each particular monster’s style.
Now on to the bad. As I mentioned, Arcania: The Complete Tale feels like a poor man’s Skyrim. And that feeling transfers to the graphics. Although the cut scenes are actually quite nice-looking, the gameplay scenes are sometimes just plain bad. From blurry faces during dialogue scenes to choppy animation throughout, it’s hard to consider this a nicely-rendered game. It’s also rather annoying that NPC’s tend to look alike - many of the same face models are re-used throughout the game.
The dialogue was decently written, although I would have preferred more humor. However, one thing that annoyed me was that the subtitles didn’t always match up with what was being said. There were also some weird voice changes in dialogue scenes where a character’s voice would change from one question to the next.
I also have to complain about the ending of the game. You defeat the final boss and that’s it - it’s over. There are no cut scenes to let you know what happens after that. The battle finishes, the enemy cries out and then it’s straight to the credits. There are no medals or “good jobs” handed out by the kingdom - there is just nothing.
Yes, I know not to expect Skyrim on an indie developer budget. However, some of these issues should have been fixed. Perhaps they will be, as the game’s release was pushed back several months from May to July. I was, however, told that the copy I played was the release copy of the game, so we shall see.
So should you buy Arcania: The Complete Tale? On the one hand, it is a great time waster and certainly interesting enough to keep you entertained for awhile. On the other hand, though, the current price point is $40 and due to some of the issues mentioned above, I can’t recommend paying that much for it. So do buy it, but wait for a price drop
Arcania: The Complete Tale will be released July 30 on the PS3.