Tuesday, May 17, 2016

Now Playing: Lord of Arcana

 Swery, what is this?
 Swery 65 is a director I've come to really like almost exclusively thanks to his fantastic work with Deadly Premonition, a game so stand offish that gives Suda 51 a run for his money. I've also learned that a lot of his previous work is pretty... derivative. Extermination? Clearly inspired by The Thing. Spy Fiction? Metal Gear Solid meets Mission Impossible. Deadly Premonition? Twin Peaks called, they want their town back. But derivative as it may be, his games have been average at worst. And now we have Lord of Arcana.

 Seeing how my progress on Toukiden has slowed down considerably, which I did review, but having spent 60+ hours on it and having a clear grasp on the game as a whole, and playing Marvel's Future Fight on the side, I decided that the only thing that made sense was to start another Monster Hunter clone. And it's pretty weird, and not Swery 65 kind of weird, even though worked as a cowriter and designer on it.

 What's really cool about these kind Hunting games is how, while you do enhance your equipment, what really makes the difference is the player's skill and actual experience tackling the difference beasts. Here, you actually level up and get more hit points. Also, your weapons level up as well, and you get more moves. It's not the most original twist on the formula, but I guess it's kinda interesting.

 As for battles, you kinda engage the monsters on the overworld, and then get transported to a separate arena? It's kinda weird. Getting surprised has a negative effect on your stats, while landing the first hit actually buffs your strength. Can't say I'm a fan of the mechanic. I'm also not liking the overall aesthetics, the game looks relatively blurry and... generic, for lack of a better word. The armor designs are 'eh', the two I've seen anyways. Monster design is pretty bland, and relatively underwhelming. I mean, I've only fought one 'big monster', Agni, and he kinda kicked my ass(He actually killed me once and made me drink about 5 potions), but he was fairly unimpressive. If you switched his magma texture with a zombiefied one, he could've looked straight out of Resident Evil, as a Tyrant of sorts. It's that lame. Not that REvil's Tyrants are necessarily lame, on their context, but on a Monster Hunter clone I expect bigger, more impressive stuff.

 Then there's the combat, which is, once again, fairly unimpressive. You mash Square, stop mashing, hold X and roll around. After playing so much Toukiden, this feels clunky. And I don't even know if you can roll with the other weapons. You can also equip a skill on the triangle button, but you can't combo into it, and the damage is pathetic, so I haven't found a use for it yet. Eventually I'm gonna try other weapons to see if everything is a one button affair. And the cherry on top? QTEs. You actually have to engage in a QTE in order to finish off a boss. And since... at least two years of so, I've started hating QTEs so much that I'm actually scared of playing God of War again, and tarnish the enjoyable memories I have of the series.

 Bottom line: It's not good, but it's not bad either, it simply feels very middle of the road. There's so many other, better, alternatives:
 Monster Hunter, which is waaay more deep than this one, the combat is slower paced, but it's much tighter and feels much better. Also available on the PSP.
 Gods Eater Burst, one of my favorite Monster Hunter Clones, I'd even dare say I like it more than Monster Hunter. Also on PSP.
 Soul Sacrifice, a bit different than the other MH Clones, but they tried something slightly different and it worked. I wasn't the biggest fan of the spell system and even then I'd rather play SS over this.
 Toukiden, it's fantastic.
 So really, why bother with something so mundane, when there's so much better alternatives out there? But then again, these are just my first impressions, based on 1:30 hours of gameplay, and only three missions under my belt(Although I'm fairly sure the game took the time I spent with the demo into account, because those three missions were rather short).

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