Review by Ace_The_Black
"A game worth the effort, but not for the faint of heart"
Ok, to start things off, Lord of Arcana is an action RPG. It is in the same category as other action RPGs like Monster Hunter, God Eater, and Phantasy Star Portable 1 and 2.
The story is a simple one. Horodyn is a land named after it's first ruler (I say ruler because Horodyn's gender is anonymous), and your character hails from the same land as him/her. After creating your character, you venture into ruins to fight the dragon Nidhogg, learning about how to play along the way (you start at level 45 with mid-level gear). While you cannot die, completing the battle leads to a talk with Horodyn, who takes you to what comes to be known as your hub, resets your level to 1, and gives you novice-level gear. From there, you work your way through quests, eventually earning pieces of arcana, and then you fight the final boss. The game does not end there. Post game rewards you with 5 additional chapters.
To start, there are 5 weapons: 1h sword, 2h sword, polearm (an axe specifically), mace, and firelance, which is the projectile weapon of the game. Each weapon has a set of battle arts earned by raising proficiencies from level 1 to level 20. As these proficiencies raise, your movement speed with the weapon increases, noted by visible gusts of wind flying past your character as you run. There is a stamina system dubbed "the pulse gauge" which is meant to symbolize the character's heart rate. When it reaches maximum, the character cannot run, block, or dodge.
Weapons and armor are not purchases per se; they are crafted using monster parts and money earned from completing quests. Not all upgrades are available at first. Completing quests, earning titles, and raising your guild rank will unlock upgrades for your weapons and armor.
The arcana system is probably the most unique system used in a game of this style, albeit it is also somewhat frustrating at times. After defeating the first "boss monster" and being awarded a piece of arcana, there will be random times when an area on the provided map will blink red. Monsters slain in this area that are slain have a chance to become a "monster core", an item required to craft all items from scratch. The randomness of it is what makes it frustrating, granted it is a small gripe.
While I personally admit that it is not a graphically stunning game, the graphics are still relatively pleasing. Trees look like trees, lava looks like lava, and monsters look like monsters. The character images for the bestiary (or more correctly, the monster compendium) are pleasant to look at, as several well known artists drew them for the game.
Music for this game has its goods and not-so-goods. Songs for quests that require generic tracking can be a bit dull, however, several of the fight themes are very fun to listen to. One of the best songs, ironically, is on the main menu after pressing start.
the controls for this game are pretty straight-forward. You don't have to tap two buttons together or hit a specific sequence for a basic action, every button has a function. The only possible gripe I could think of is having to hold the L button for lock-on, but compared to having to use my pointer finger to turn the camera with the D-pad for Monster Hunter on the PSP, A tired pointer finger is better than a sore pointer finger.
The difficulty for this game can be varied based on experiences. If you've ever played any game that requires you to block, dodge, run, or fight a monster in an indirect way, this game will be moderately difficult, and provide enough of a challenge for you. If this is your first action rpg, I suggest that you either come back to this game after playing something with a better learning curve, or learn to have a lot of patience. For a beginner, this game will be harsh and will test you heavily. If you are impatient, avoid this game, because this game require farming (spending time fighting creatures constantly for specific parts) and strategy.
My overall thought on this game is that it is better than average. It would earn the grade of B+ if it were a student in school. There is very little holding this game back in terms of enjoyment, and it is worth 70+ hours of gameplay. The only way you could waste your money buying this game is if you don't give it a fair chance.
Reviewer's Score: 8/10 | Originally Posted: 10/31/11
Game Release: Lord of Arcana (US, 01/25/11)
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