Tuesday, June 28, 2016

Review #331: Lord of Arcana

 Ooooooooooooooooooh boy...
 You know what I like? A good Monster-Hunter clone. Monster Hunter Tri? Loved it. Gods Eater Burst? Adored it, and pre-ordered the sequel. Toukiden Kiwami? 9.0 outta 10, still playing it nowadays on my spare time(The sequel, at least on Vita, isn't looking so hot though). Do you know what I also enjoy? Games in which Swery65 worked on. And you're telling me that Swery65 worked on a Monster Hunter clone? Sold. And then I played and.... full disclosure, I did not finish the game, and frankly, I'm not planning on doing so any time soon. Lord of Arcana is terrible, terrible.

 So, story, seven beasts are sealed in coffin-like things, and as you hunt stuff the seals break and you have to hunt these beasts. That's it. There's no memorable NPCs, no memorable moments, no nothing. I mean, I only got up to the third sealed monster, but it's pretty much just like Monster Hunter: The story is just an excuse to have you hunt things with your created character, who is pretty much a blank slate, personality wise. As per the norm for these games, you have a small town-like hub were you can craft items or equipment using pieces you've scavenged from monsters and accept quests. There's also a store, but they don't sell anything useful.
 And then we get to the gameplay, and where to start with... So, you created your character, picked a weapon, equipped an special attack, and you are ready to do some hunting, right? Well, the first surprise coming your way is how the hunting pans out. In these games you are usually let loose on an area, search enemies and fight them in real time. Here... you will come across enemies on the field, but these represent enemy encounters, as if it was an RPG, meaning that touching them shifts the action to a round arena in which the actual fight takes place. It's as annoying and time consuming as it sounds. Now, you know how these type of games can get very grindy very fast, as hunting for specific enemy parts can get grueling, it's not unusual to have to fight the same enemy over ten times in order to get that specific thing. Well, this game manages to make it even more tedious. There's certain enemy parts, 'cores', which are required for almost everything worth a damn, that can only be harvested at specific times.

 And this works very... randomly. After you've been on the field for a while, the game will randomly pick a specific area, and killing enemies in that specific area lets you harvest the cores of fallen enemies... if you are lucky. You see, there's an RNG to the RNG. You see, you might want Goblin cores, but the game will suddenly decide 'Hey, see this area filled with Skeletons and not a single Goblin? YOU CAN HARVEST CORES HERE NOW. ENJOY'. And killing enemies grants you the chance to get the core, more often than not you'll get nothing. And bosses, the strongest, most time consuming enemies? They might not even drop their cores as well. SO. MUCH. FUN. And the enemies are so lame, and their animations are lackluster as well. The first boss looks laughably dumb, at least the Bahamut was kinda coolish.
 The combat is simple and boring. You have a normal attack, on square, and a special attack on the triangle button. X is used for blocking and rolling. The combat feels very clunky and stiff, it simply isn't a fun game to play. But the cherry on top? Boss encounters. Do you know the best part about them? In order to kill them you have to engage in a sequence of QTES, and QTES are SO. MUCH. FUN. I can't stress enough just how lousy this game is, it's filled with baffling design choices, lame enemies and lame combat. There's dozens upon dozens of Monster Hunter clones out there, something this horrid just won't cut it.

 Now then, when I play Monster Hunter or Gods Eater, and a boss annihilates me, my immediate thoughts are to claim revenge. Revise my strategy, maybe even my equipment, and I try to tackle the boss again as soon as possible. In Lord of Arcana, Bahamut creamed me and... I just didn't want to try again. About a week later I tried again, and lost again, so I searched for Bahamut online, turns out he is kind of a roadblock for some of us, but, apparently, there's a spear-type weapon that completely wrecks him. But... I just couldn't be bothered to get that weapon. I wasn't having fun with Lord of Arcana, the game is tedious, is clunky and is anything but fun. There's so many other, better, more competent games, so why bother?
 For what it's worth, I looked at Lord of Apocalypse, a Japan only sequel that was released on both the PSP and the Vita, and it looks leagues and bounds better than this game. For instance, Agni, the first boss, while he is a tiny, pathetic creature on Lord of Arcana, in Lord of Apocalypse he is four times as tall, and both of his arms sport the flame gauntlets. His animations and patterns are just as pathetic, but at least he is looks imposing. They got rid of the 'encounter'-based combat, so that you engage enemies on the field itself, as it's meant to be, and you get CPU allies as well, which are bound to make the Single Player campaign more tolerable.

 Lord of Arcana is a terrible game. It's kinda sad, because it's not broken buggy. But the game is undeniably boring and tedious. The game is dull to the point of soullessness, and it makes me incredibly sad to say that, because if Swery 65's games have something, it's a soul, as derivative as they are. They tried to change the Monster Hunter formula, but change for the sake of change is not a good thing, which is why all of its original ideas fell flat on their face, which is why they got rid of them on the enhanced sequel, Lord of Apocalypse. The Monster Hunter-clone market, while still relatively niche, has dozens of fantastic alternatives: The PSP and 3DS have the Monster Hunter franchise, the PSP and Vita have the God Eater franchise and the Vita and PS4 have Toukiden. There's absolutely no reason to play this game.
 2.0 out of 10

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