Arcania was a game that released back on the PC in 2010. I remember playing it back then and I actually enjoyed my time spent with it. But there is something you must know about me – I tend to like bad games from time to time and others like to poke fun of me for it (I was a fan of Too Human, enough said, right?). Arcania wasn’t labeled a bad game per se, but it wasn’t looked at too favorably in the reviews section of most major online reviewers. Fast forward 5 years and the guys and gals from Nordic Games decided it was past time that Arcania come out for next gen systems. After all of these years, and another release on the previous generation of consoles – was this the RPG that PS4 gamers demanded for? Well, that’s an easy answer, no. It most certainly isn’t. But that’s not to say it’s a complete loss. Check out our review below of Arcania: The Complete Tale for the PS4 to find out if this is a game you should pick up or just avoid altogether.
Arcania begins with you stepping into the footsteps of a normal looking farmer (voiced by Troy Baker) as you look to woo your village sweetheart. You will be tasked with gaining the approval of her father, meeting some interesting characters, fighting off a fellow adorer of your woman, and ultimately surviving a tragedy that pushes the story forward and has you leaving your village. In terms of game starts, it’s pretty decent, if a bit longer than it should be. I found myself wanting revenge after the initial hour or two and and I was quickly invested in the story and what was to become of it’s main protagonist. As you progress through the game, you’ll quickly come to realize that your small start on the island village you grew up on is just the tip of the proverbial iceberg of trouble crossing the land. To enact your revenge, you’ll seek out a king who is cursed by ghosts of his past and ultimately decide the fate of the world in which you inhabit by your actions. Typical fantasy tropes, but they are done well enough to keep you invested early and often throughout the paper thin plot. There were times throughout the story where I drifted in and out of caring about the game, but there is enough here to keep you pushing forward, even if it’s a little stale from time to time.
The first thing you’ll notice immediately upon launching the game is that this is a game that very much looks like it belongs in 2010, or maybe even earlier. The game is not good looking at all and any improvements to the graphics were minimal at best over the former release on the PS3. I really can’t think what went through the publisher’s heads that sparked the thought that it would be a good idea to release this for the PS4 in it’s current format. On the PS3? Sure, I could see it belonging there (which it already does), but even there it was considered an ugly game, on the PS4 it’s downright hideous. Character models look like they are from a few generations of technology past, fighting animations are stiff and blocky, and jumping around the world and trying to get to higher places is a lesson in futility that often resulted in me getting stuck on geometry or falling to some place that resulted in an insta-death. There are no saving graces for the graphics in this game. If you are coming to this game looking for the latest in current gen gaming graphics, well, you’ll be very disappointed.
The gameplay in Arcania is about what you would expect from a third person RPG made in the late 2000s. You’ll begin the game with the clothing on your back and over the course of the game you’ll amass an armory of epic proportions. The game does a pretty good job of having items located throughout the world so that exploration is an actual reward. I enjoyed finding caves or bandit camps in which I could plunder after defeating it’s inhabitants, only to find that I was able to upgrade my entire stock of items with that one excursion. The reward system in the game isn’t robust, but it’s serviceable and is complemented by the game’s upgrade system. As you go through the game, you’ll level up and be able to put points into different skills and unlock a number of weapons and spells. The early goings in the game can feel a bit lackluster, but as you continue and really begin to unlock skills and find additional items, it’ll open up and present itself better. The game takes a while to really open up through and once it does, it never truly opens up that much. You’re in an open world, but the world you’re inhabiting seems very small. The map may be large, but walking from one side to another probably wouldn’t take much time at all. You always have a clear destination in mind and branching off the path will only reward you with some extra items and maybe some extra experience from some optional areas like mentioned earlier. This isn’t a game like The Witcher 3 or Skyrim where you could get equally lost in the lore or the landscape. That is to be expected though, this game is old, made from a smaller budget, and is definitely in the vein of games that aren’t released anymore.
Arcania: The Complete Tale isn’t a bad game, it’s just out of place. There was a time when this game would have been thought of to be a decent experience, something that would be for a niche crowd that enjoys these types of RPG romps. In it’s current form, on this newest of platforms, it just feels like a lost old man who is past his prime and you just feel sadness for. Even with it’s budget price of $29.99 it’s hard to recommend it to anyone. You almost feel bad for the game in a way. It’s obvious that a lot of love when into making it and fleshing out it’s world and DLC that is inluded with this release, but time hasn’t been kind to it and it’s just a shallow representation of it’s former self. If you’re absolutely dying for a game to play that will take a good amount of your time to finish, I’d go with the The Witcher 3. If you’re like me and you like bad games from time to time or just like playing oddities that probably shouldn’t exist in the video game world, you could do a lot worse than Arcania. You won’t be blown away by it’s visuals, or enthralled by it’s story, but look close enough and you might just find that you’re enjoying the game a little more than you thought you would, and that has to count for something.
Reviewed on PS4 with code provided by publisher