Arcania: The Complete Tale review - humdrum adventures in mediocre land

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Arcania: The Complete Tale

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A lacklustre RPG that lacks originality and playability, avoid at all costs.

We like

  • Easy to use crafting system
  • Nice linking cut-scenes
  • Free sequel

We dislike

  • An unimaginative world
  • No game play skill involved
  • Poor enemy A.I.

See PSU's review on Metacritic & GameRankings

The other night I had a terrible nightmare. I dreamt I was in Hell where I was forced to undertake the same hideously boring task over and over again with no end to my torment in sight. Then I woke up and realised that I had fallen asleep playing Arcania: The Complete Tale; a game that makes it very easy for you to slip into unconsciousness.

This latest RPG from Nordic Games promises a rich world, entertaining quests and a sophisticated plot, but it's a game that totally misses all these marks by a very wide margin. But, before I dive into Arcania's many faults and a few of its redeeming features, let's take a look at the game's story.

Arcania is set on the continent of Midland, where King Rhobar the Third is seeking to unite all of the known world under his command. After a series of victories however, Rhobar comes under a terrible curse that lays him low. All Rhobar can think of and say is that he must find a mystical amulet, which leads him and his generals on a mission to find what their King needs even if they have to destroy everything in their path.

The game starts far away from this conflict on a peaceful island with the player taking the role of a shepherd boy who must forsake his flock to undertake three tasks; these will prove he is worthy to marry Ivy the love of his life. However, while undertaking these quests all chances of marital bliss are destroyed when evil Paladins kill Ivy and everyone else in the hero's village, setting him on a path of revenge.

With nothing but vengeance on his mind our hero sets sail for the mainland where he learns of a mystic forge, which if he can locate it not only can he deny its powers to the evil Paladins but by using it he can create a mighty weapon to sweep their evil from the land.


Of course nothing is straightforward; the location of the forge is lost to history and the land is wrecked by Rhobar's war, so the hero must battle across the world undertaking quests, righting wrongs and seeking clues to the forge's location.

From jungles to volcanos the player travels the lands getting ever closer to the location of the forge by examining ancient archives or speaking to scholars of forgotten lore. As he seeks the forge, the player will soon discover the world of Arcania is full of danger, monsters lurk at every corner and players will have to master magic, the blade, bow or all of these weapons to remove them from your path. Also, as the world of Arcania is in turmoil, its people cry out for a hero to help them and many sub-quests can also be found. These offer weapons and experience points to make your character level up and be able to tackle more dangerous enemies.

I felt it was a nice touch to start Arcania as a shepherd boy and not be immediately thrust into the action but instead be introduced to the world by the way of an interesting tutorial. However, as the game is so riddled with problems it's sad that any attempts it makes to engage players like this can't overcome the many faults that destroy any enjoyment a player might gain.

The first problem players will notice is that although the graphics for the most part look good, they can misbehave displaying great big blank gaps in the scenery, poorly rendered NPCs or parts of the world so badly joined together that the seams are showing. This is disappointing as the land of Arcania, mostly, doesn't look that bad and problems like this shouldn't exist in what is supposed to be a finished game.

Despite not looking too bad Arcania is sadly quite a dull world when it comes to atmosphere; it's the fantasy equivalent of an old seaside town where pensioners go to watch paint dry as they wait to die. The landscape, despite its up and down graphical moments, doesn't change much as you adventure; sound effects such as birds fail to bring the world to life by just tweeting randomly (often in caves or over NPC dialogue) and the weather is always bright and sunny. This sunny ... (continued on next page) ----

Richard Archer is an Assistant Editor for PSU, when he's not being a full-time gamer, comic book nut, and Doctor Who fan.
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