Arcania: A Gothic Tale Preview
Who loves a good action/RPG? I certainly do, which is why I’ve kept a close eye on the progress of Arcania: A Gothic Tale over the past few months. During the PS2 days, I reveled in the likes of Baldurs Gate: Dark Alliance and Champions of Norrath, and although I was disappointed in the recently released Sacred 2: Fallen Angel, I am looking forward to the dark, mystical, enticing world that should be on display in Arcania. You may not realize it, but the Gothic franchise has been around for a while, and the game in question here will technically be the fourth entry in that series. If you need a bit more information, head over to Wikipedia or something; we must soldier forth and address the topic at hand. In some ways, looking at this game reminds us of Demon’s Souls, but perhaps only in tone, ambiance and environment as the gameplay will likely be quite different. At the same time, we should probably thank the next-gen Gods that RPGs are finally becoming more prevalent with each passing month.
As most of you know, action/RPGs don’t often place a heavy emphasis on storyline, plot or character development. This is the format used for many open-world RPGs where freedom and customization reign supreme, but Spellbound is tossing a wrench into the works this time around: that faceless, nameless hero of past Gothic installments is now the villain; he’s responsible for torching the main character’s hometown at the start of the game. Obviously, this is catalyst enough to get your blood pumping and you apparently embark on a mission of vengeance and retribution. Now, the good stuff: not only is the game estimated to be over 70 hours in length (talk about bang for your buck!), but you will also discover and equip plenty of various weapons and pieces of equipment. Although you only start with access to a small portion of the map, you will soon expand outward and eventually come into contact with the seven different cultures that inhabit this intimidating world. As is typically the case with most action/RPGs, your choice of weapons ranges from clubs and maces to swords and axes, and let’s not forget the ranged bows and, we assume, magic-oriented staffs.
I’m a big fan of mages in such games, see. Even if it makes far more sense to hack ‘n slash – which I sometimes enjoy doing – I invariably turn to the magic-using aspects of the gameplay. This is why I like the fact that your character, regardless of how you wish to play, will have a variety of magic spells at his disposal. Although we’ll get the standard Skill Tree that you can pursue at your own volition, I am looking forward to the ability to sling some fireballs and lightning bolts about. One will also have to join a Guild or two in the interest of character ability progression, and again, which Guild you become a member of will depend heavily on your own personal interests. Once you’ve trained a bit and obtained a fuller grasp of the controls, you can head out into the world and take down some invading baddies. According to IGN’s E3 impressions of the game, we’ll have a standard lock-on system, but the developers have added an interesting little feature to the melee combat. After you land a strike, your equipped weapon will glow blue for a brief moment and if you hit the attack button again during this time, you can start a combo. Stringing strikes together ought to be most effective; but with each successive strike, the weapon will glow for a shorter period of time…
Lastly, we will also get the benefit of a quest tracker, mini-map and teleportation stones, and if you get tired of fighting, you’ll be able to experiment with stuff like alchemy and blacksmithing (presumably to create new items and equipment for yourself). For the most part, Arcania: A Gothic Story appears to be a fairly straightforward action/RPG with a few twists that ought to make the experience immersive and even addictive. Even if you aren’t familiar with the franchise, you’ll certainly be familiar with the format and gameplay, which shouldn’t come as any surprise to fans of the genre. We just hope it has enough distinctness to separate itself from other titles that are similar…if it does, it’s guaranteed to be a great option for those of you who are always looking for their next action/RPG fix.
6/18/2009 Ben Dutka