From the minds at Spellbound Entertainment comes Arcania: The Complete Tale. Arcania: The Complete Tale is a port of Gothic 4 and its DLC entitled Arcania: Fall of Setarriff, all rolled into one convenient package. The Gothic series wasn’t overly popular, but if the rest of the series can be judged based on the merits of this game, it seems that you weren’t missing much. Arcania: The Complete Tale feels like everyone involved tried so hard to make something amazing, but instead of the love and quality showing through, everything feels overdone and ultimately breaks, which leads to more problems than you started out with. It is a shame, though, because there are some things that Arcania does right, but with so much that went wrong, you really have to dig to see the silver lining.
Visually speaking, Arcania: The Complete Tale is on par with any other PS3 or Xbox 360 game being released today. That would be great, except that things only look great as long as you are alone and standing still. Once you start moving and encountering enemies, the performance suffers drastically. Glitches start forming, and it ruins the visual experience that is so important to role playing games. You will frequently experience graphic details popping in while you are moving about. You could be running along a cliff and suddenly be stopped short; after a few seconds, the graphics pop in and you see there was a boulder in the way. It is imperfections like this that take you out of the world, and that is a critical mistake.
Another low point for the game is the voice acting. Every voice you hear borders on the ridiculous. Whether the actors tried too hard or the producers wanted an overacted performance remains to be seen, but the end result is conversations that prove to be distracting and even irritating at times. To make matters worse, the dialog is poorly edited, which draws more attention to the poor voice acting. More often than not, dialog cuts out prematurely, lines are spoke out of context, or, worst of all, repeated. To have serious graphical issues is bad, but when you add serious voice acting issues, that is unforgivable.
For as bad as things get for this game, there is still some interesting ideas that were integrated into the gameplay. When you level up, you will be able to invest skill points as you would with any other role playing game. You will have the option to invest in any of several categories, including Mettle, Discipline, Precision, Stealth, Zeal, Serenity, and Dominance, with each skill improving the player’s ability to fight in one discipline. That part is fairly generic, but the interesting part is when you invest a skill point, your hard stats like Hit Points, Damage, or Mana increase as well. This system encourages you to specialize without the prospect of failing or developing your character incorrectly. It has happened at least once to every RPG player: you invest in the wrong skills and your player is a mess. We all remember the time we gave the magician too many hit points or invested in spells for a warrior, trying to create a perfect hybrid, but creating a freak of nature instead. With this system, no matter what skills you choose to invest in, your character will still get more powerful. This encourages players to experiment, specialize, and ultimately play the game without the fear of having to start over from scratch.
This game comes bundled with Arcania: Fall of Setarriff, which is an expansion for Gothic 4. Unfortunately, the same problems carry over to the expansion, so if you were bothered by what happened during the campaign, the expansion is just more of the same. However, if you liked the game, this is just more game to get through. If you do decide to take it on, it is best played after you’ve completed Gothic 4. You can import your character and stats to the expansion so you don’t have to start over. If you prefer to create a new character, that option is available as well.
In the end, Arcania: The Complete Tale feels a lot like a poor port. There are so many technical issues with the game that playing it glitch-free is almost impossible. While it seems that the game wasn’t anything noteworthy on its original platform, the port to a new platform made a poor game into something bordering on unplayable. Even at the discounted price of $30, it is hard to recommend this game. Considering this is an RPG, there are so many other options to get into that justifying your time with Arcania is a tough sell.
This review is based on a review copy of the PlayStation 3 version of ArcaniA: The Complete Tale developed by Spellbound Entertainment.
- Interesting Level System
- Discount Price
- Poor Voice Acting
- Very Glitchy