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Arcania: The Complete Tale Review

For quite some time the PS4 has been bereft of an open world fantasy RPG, something along the lines of Skyrim of another Dragons Age, this gap in the market would have been the perfect time to release Arcania: The Complete Tale; however, Nordic Games have decided to pretty much go head to head with one of the most anticipated games of this generation, Witcher 3 and whilst it is not a must have purchase, it certainly has plenty of charm about it.

The Arcania games have been around for quite some time, starting life on the PC format and then this “recent” effort making it over to the consoles a couple of years ago, so what we have here is a an update of an update taking the PS3 and Xbox 360 version and updating this five year old PC again for the PS4.

Arcania: The Complete Tale is essentially a very linear open world fantasy role playing game; a confusing tag line if there ever was one as even though the game grants a wonderful looking world to wander around, it is the quests on hand that are very matter of fact, relying on the usual “get this” or “kill that” that plague these sort of games, the game drip feeding you new parts of the world to venture through, each one full of favours to be asked. 

This is not helped by a very straight forward story in which your character is thrust upon a tale of revenge following the brutal slaying of his village and his wife to be by a crazed King and his army. The story will then send you on a quest to slay the King responsible, with you being continually being one step behind whatever you need to do; pretty much every quest falling into the category of I will scratch your back if you scratch mine across the many locations of the Southern Islands, from mighty castles, goblin infested woods, swamps and even dark and dangerous caverns.

Even with the power of the PS4 behind it the presentation is very hit and miss with the graphics themselves feeling very unsettled, the previous issues of texture loading are a lot better than the PS3 version but it still looks like a game on the lower graphical setting of a PC. That said there are some truly jaw dropping moments in the game, the world itself offering lots of wonderful sights but even coming across these feel like they have been shoehorned in, the linear world forcing you down paths and canyons with the quests themselves sticking to the main path. When there are chances to wander around there is very little to take in, no hidden surprises other than the collection quests of scouring the land for tiny little idols.

There is a full vocal soundtrack to the game, with all of the main characters offering pretty decent vocal tracks with an attempt for a bit more integration than just watching people talk but it ends up just relying on you choosing from either END, or continuing the chat. There was only one real instance of making a choice, but I didn’t feel that it has any real impact on the world or how I was perceived.

The combat in Arcania: The Complete Tale is in real time, allowing you to swing your blades or cast spells as you see fit and is by far the most enjoyable aspect of the game, though early on you do learn of a few tricks that pretty much negate the use of any magic or shield. With the ability to quick hold eight items on the d-pad (switching tiers with the shoulder buttons), you can lock on to a target and take on whatever the game throws at you, strafing and rolling out of the way of most attacks. Along with a large selection of swords, axes, staffs and broadswords you are also able to use a bow and arrow/crossbow and a small selection of magic with the right trigger buttons. Your character is able to quite easily switch between three classes, an all-out warrior, a ranger style or magician, with armour and items used to boost specific stats. Sadly the poor PC to console conversion attempt seeps through here, often not having any real satisfying impact, with times leaving you not sure if you are actually connecting blows to a rather vague explanation of how the magic system works.

The enemies you come across are pretty decent, offering the fantasy regulars like goblins and ogres and also throwing in poisonous bugs, wolves and lizards and later some impressive rock monsters. Though the AI isn’t exactly the bright, each race uses similar classes to yourself and they don’t really vary their tactics, with warriors just charging at you and the magicians and rangers holding back and sniping you from a distance.

Though the menu screen is presented in a very helpful radial style allowing you to choose from upgrading skills and magic, view the map, check out quests and also view your inventory, which can be extremely confusing thanks to a bottomless bag and a lack of item comparison tool, making it hard to see the differences in items and also having no organisation to it, it’s all just thrown together into loose categories. With all of the items you collect along the way you are able to use the craft system as long as you have the right recipes, creating mana boosts, health elixirs, potions to gain strength and also new weapons, though you rarely need to use it as the items you find along the way tend to keep you good for the majority of the game, stealing from people’s homes or locked chests; but don’t worry about any repercussions as no one seems to be bothered. There is an element of levelling up but it’s quite light when compared to other RPGS, allowing for better vitality, longer weapon combos or slightly more powerful magic.

Arcania is the sort of game we would have been playing ten or so years ago but a lot has changed since then, what with the Skyrim and Witcher titles. Surprisingly through all of this, there was still part of me that wanted to play through this game, the occasional beautiful vista or huge dungeon crawl battling ogres somehow lured me into this messy but still fun world. Added to this game is also the Fall of Setarrif content, adding even more time to your stay on the Southern Isles. Like I said earlier, if there are no other RPGS out there for you to try and you must play another, this will keep you entertained.

Words by Ash Buchanan.

(Version Tested: PS4)


+ Reasonable voice cast
+ The actual action is enjoyable


- The story is very quickly forgotten
- No auto save

Edited On 26 May, 2015

( 2 )
Turniplord's avatar
Turniplord 2 years ago
I like this game - played about 20 hours so far - Witcher has taken over at the moment though but its fun. Killing all the sheep and animals at the beginning was fun
Anonymous user's avatar
Neil 2 years ago
Dropped the Gothic title I see... hello Piranha Bytes, time to carry on where you left off and make a real Gothic 3 after the awesome Gothic 2

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