Today is Tuesday! Know what that means? Its time for a PC Game review! Today we will be dealing with an oldie, but goodie, and a cult classic to some. Today’s review focuses on Arcanum: of Magick and Steamworks Obscura. What is Arcanum you ask? It is a 3rd person Isometric view RPG by Trokia Games, and published by Sierra.
The setting is the world of Arcanum, which has recently come out of an industrial revolution. Think England at the turn of the century, with victorian dress and steam engines and locomotives and firearms. With this, Magic still exists, and there is a shaky peace between the two disciplines.
Now, the game starts with your character being on the ISS Zephyr, a transport blimp. The Zephyr is attacking by what appear to be orcs in flying machines that resamble the Wright Brothers flying machine. The blimp crashes, and you are left alive. A voice calls out to you and you find what appears to be a gnome who begs you to “find the boy” and gives you a ring.
And thus begins your adventure.
The game’s story is amazing, although the graphics are REALLY dated. There isn’t much in the way of detail on your character sprite, nor any of your party members. The voice acting however is really decent, and the character portraits add to the setting and mood.
Now on the game system itself. You first must go through character creation, which has a ton of options. You can choose your race, your name, and of course your sex. Females for some reason have -1 strength and +1 constitution. There are also backgrounds, which give your character strange effects such as Poison resistance for the Snake Handler background. I tend to stick with Hyperactive which grants a bonus to speed, but a penalty to charisma.
Once you have your race and background and name, you move on to stat placement.
There are no classes in Arcanum. You can set your character up in any way you wish. Its really nice. You can play a pure melee fighter, which is the easiest way to play the game in fact. Once you reach a certain skill level there is not much you cannot hit and kill in a single turn. I like to add a dash of magic personally, but that is just me.
The stat system and skill system is interesting and a wee bit complicated for those just starting out. There are 8 stats, 4 physical and 4 mental. The physical ones are Strength, Dexterity, Constitution, and Beauty. The mental ones are Intelligence, Willpower, Perception, and Charisma.
Each stat is connected to one or more skills, and you cannot raise your skills past a rank without a certain level of a stat. Generally, Dexterity is the most important stat as it controlls how fast your character is and is connected to a large number of skills, most notably Dodge and Melee (the two main melee combat skills).
A 20 dex is generally the first thing a player goes for. I know I do. Its crazy not to.
Beyond that, Intellect and Willpower and prime for Mages, as Willpower is connected to the schools of magic.
Now, the fun part. Beyond Magic you also have Technology tree’s, like Firearms, and Repair. If you have a large amount of points in your magic skills, you will be horrid with Tech, and vice versa. Also, the higher your magic or tech aptitude (which is based on how many skill points spent in those areas), the higher the chance of failure for something of the opposite type to work. IE, if you have a really high tech apptitude, most spells will not function on you, and magic items will be worthless. Of course, the higher your apptitude, the better things will work from that type. IE, a high magic apptitude means spells work better and more effectivly, and magic items become really high powered.
You can balance this out by putting points in both aspects of course. I myself played the game as a fighter mage for example, and pretty much surrounded myself with mage party members for max effectivness. Cept for a dwarf. Every party needs a dwarf mechanic man!
Next up, Combat! Combat in Arcanum can either be turn based or real time. Real time is a stupid way to play, trust me, as its too hard to react to the NPcs. Turn based is the best option. You basically switch between the two by hitting the space bar. Beyond that, its pretty much point and click.
Now, there are a few flaws for this game. One, the movement system. Instead of the screen moving with your character, you have to move the screen manually. This is a pain in the rear when trying to move around unexplored area’s. Also, on newer machines I have had issues were the screen clips and acts strange. Beyond that, there are not many issues that I have run into.
All in all, Arcanum is an amazing game. I give it a 5/5.