E3 2019: Arc of Alchemist PreviewWe do not love the desert; we love water and green trees. There is nothing in the desert. No one needs nothing.06.19.19 - 11:30 AM
The world of Compile Heart's Arc of Alchemist needs saving, and the earnest Quinn Bravesford wants to save the world. The problem being that the world is in a desperate state, with a few nations hoarding what little natural resources are available and using the power of alchemy to stretch those resources as far as magic allows. Quinn seeks the legendary Great Power, hidden in the enormous Desert of Beginnings, which allegedly can return Quinn's home to the blue and green world of water and life that is only told of in folktales.
Quinn leads an investigation team into the desert wielding an alchemy device called the Lunagear. Four elemental orbs are hidden in the Desert of Beginnings, and upon finding them, Quinn can use different elemental alchemy skills with the Lunagear. The Desert of Beginnings is populated by robot guardians called Machine Dolls, and the militaristic Principality of Neuhaven has sent their own contingent to search for the Great Power. Quinn and her companions need to deal with those forces in addition to deadly desert wildlife in their search.
Arc of Alchemist takes place in a seamless environment, with desert travel, action combat, and environmental puzzles encountered and resolved without any cutaways or pauses. The alchemic powers of the Lunagear are used to manipulate the world around your party and solve a variety of puzzles. Bringing along specific characters can also make a difference in navigating the desert and solving different puzzles.
There are several companion characters in Arc of Alchemist, and they have unique skills, switchable character classes, and different roles in battle. The player only controls Quinn, and your companions' behavior in battle are determined by the formation you set in the menu screen. These companions include the swordsman Axel Darion, the childish shieldbearer Sandra Wainwright, and the sardonic spymaster Jester Silverhawk. By the way, "Jester Silverhawk" is the frontrunner for my favorite JRPG character name of 2019.
Base building is another key feature of Arc of Alchemist. Quinn and co. can bring back materials from desert excursions and use them to expand their home base and satellite encampments, or trade them for other items. Building new facilities can unlock and improve skills and character classes, forge and enhance weapons, and supply necessities to let Quinn explore the desert further. The key gameplay loop in Arc of Alchemist of "explore > fight > salvage > build > explore further" should keep players occupied at least long enough to complete Quinn's Lunagear and find the Great Power.
The concept art for Arc of Alchemist comes from renowned Final Fantasy artist Yoshitaka Amano, and the character designs were brought about by Mota, who worked on the 7th Dragon series. The characters of Arc of Alchemist are round-faced, large-eyed, and very cutely drawn, in a cheery contrast to the bleak setting of The Desert of Beginnings. The music of Arc of Alchemist comes from MARI, a Compile Heart in-house composer who also worked on the Alice series of visual novels.
Arc of Alchemist landed this February in Japan and is due this winter in the West on PlayStation 4. From the trailers and demo footage shown to us at E3, it looks like Arc of Alchemist is a very competently made action RPG with a huge, continuous desert world and some intriguing party customization and base building elements. If "Mad Max with alchemist anime girls" sounds like your jam, then keep an eye out for more RPGFan coverage of Arc of Alchemist.