RPGFan


ArcaniA: The Complete Tale

"... the sort of game a hundred monkeys sitting at a hundred PCs might create if given enough time."

Two sentence review.

Arcania's high-level expansion begins with a quest in which the player must kill twelve wolves. Beware, however, for they've changed since your forays into the low-level forests and caverns of the core game: they now have DEMON EYES.

Full review.

Welcome to Arcania: The Complete Tale, also known as Arcania: A Gothic Tale repackaged with its expansion, also known as Gothic 4, also known as Fantasy: The Action RPG. I was na´ve to think that The Elder Scrolls represented the heights of generic fantasy. Arcania's existence serves no purpose, and what could be more damning than that? We've done all this before, we've done it in more fantastical and vivid worlds, we've done it with more style, we've done it while actually having fun, and we'll continue to craft, level up, kill things, walk down forest paths, swing swords, and, yes, protect peasant from beasts, only we'll be exploring wild worlds, or feeling the weight of our foes' every dire blow, or we'll be Geralt of Rivia and not some anonymous automaton with ugly hair.

Games have the ability to stand on gameplay alone, but Arcania's gameplay is as unimaginative and poorly executed as its setting and story. Combat feels like a dream in which movements are disconnected from their consequences: you try to run and though your legs feel heavy and useless, you somehow end up there anyway. Swinging a sword might feel like nothing at all, but enemies fall to their deaths regardless. This also works against the player: I died more than once because I couldn't feel myself get hit. The few special abilities are difficult to activate and sometimes have a life of their own, draining the stamina gauge when you need it most. The AI is exploitable, but what does that matter when combat feels so wrong?

Every movement is agonizing. Every quest is a bother. The main quest follows the travels of a FedEx driver with awkward voice acting, and side quests are equally unmemorable. Arcania's menus look and feel like unfinished placeholders. I avoided my inventory, organized like the contents of a backpack shaken up and sent rolling down a hill, and I couldn't even find simple information like my character's level. The map, both full and mini versions, is unhelpful and misleading. At one point, the main quest markers disappeared from my map entirely, leaving me with nowhere to go (so I quit — I had had enough). Frame-rate drops punctuate the action, although this may be a small price to pay for no loading times, one of Arcania's only impressive features. Unfortunately, the game is also heinously ugly, so we pay dearly for the freedom from load times. Arcania: The Complete Tale doesn't do a very good job of being complete either: in every minute, the music cuts out for a second. Oh well — you've pretty much heard it before anyway.

In the quest for answers in the debate between art, entertainment, and the nature of video games as products, Arcania plays an interesting role. It provides strong evidence to suggest that there's a monumental difference in quality, tone, and character between a work of art and a product. If Arcania: The Complete Tale is a product, then it's a worthless one, the sort of game a hundred monkeys sitting at a hundred PCs might create if given enough time. I've rarely encountered a game with such disregard for the power of the human imagination, and I hope no one encourages this by playing Arcania: The Complete Tale.


© 2013 Nordic Games, Spellbound, Black Forest Games. All rights reserved.



Twitch Schedule & Status

Sunday, July 15
Octopath Traveler • 10am PDT/1pm EDT

Mondays
Digimon Story: Cyber Sleuth • 3pm PDT/6pm EDT

Tuesdays
Star Ocean: Second Evolution • 2:30pm PDT/5:30pm EDT
Lunar 2: Eternal Blue Complete • 5:30pm PDT/8:30pm EDT

Wednesdays
Alundra • 12pm PDT/3pm EDT
Octopath Traveler • 5:30pm PDT/8:30pm EDT

Thursdays
Kingdom Hearts: Birth by Sleep • 2:30pm PDT/5:30pm EDT
Octopath Traveler • 5:30pm PDT/8:30pm EDT

Fridays
Final Fantasy IX • 3pm PDT/6pm EDT
The Legend of Heroes: Trails of Cold Steel (Speedrun) • 6pm PDT/9pm EDT

Saturdays
Octopath Traveler • 5pm PDT/8pm EDT

Retro Encounter Final Thoughts ~ Lunar: The Silver Star

Retro Encounter Final Thoughts ~ Lunar: The Silver Star

Feature
Little Witch Academia: Chamber of Time Review

Little Witch Academia: Chamber of Time

Review
Kurt hymneth ~The Songs that Conversed with the Gods~ Ar tonelico hymmnos concert Complete BOX Review

Kurt hymneth ~The Songs that Conversed with the Gods~ Ar tonelico hymmnos concert Complete BOX

Review
Retro Encounter 144

Retro Encounter 144

Podcast
Echoes of the Fey - Episode 2 Review

Echoes of the Fey - Episode 2

Review