The thing about the RPG genre is that it really seems like a hit and miss genre. Some games may be great but if they don’t get the publicity they need they seem to just catch up dust on store shelves. The Arc the Lad series has always been a solid RPG series but really has never been a fan favorite. Now developers Cattle Call (Tsugunai: Atonement for the PS2) have taken the Arc the Lad series to the PS2 and it’s Arc The Lad: Twilight of the Spirits - a pretty solid RPG that will sure appeal to fans of the RPG genre.
If you know anything about the RPG genre you know that the key component to a great RPG is not just the gameplay or graphics but the storyline. Usually RPG’s are the type of games that have the more elaborate storylines and this holds true in Arc the Lad. Throughout Arc the Lad you will be playing through the elaborate storyline and it will transpire right in front of you.
For those of you who have played through the other Arc the Lad titles you will find that Arc the Lad: Twilight of the Spirits takes place a few hundred years after Arc the Lad III. What this means is that the cast from that game is no longer in place, so you are going to see a whole new cast of characters to the scene. The basis behind the story is the hatred between the humans and the Deimos. Deimos is basically just a fancy name for intelligent monsters. To put the story into an easy perspective, you are a human that watches the human and deimos basically destroy each other throughout the game. The story is quite intriguing and is one of the stronger points for the game.
Lately there has been a trend in RPG’s that doesn’t allow you to play with the same character throughout the game but you will switch from character to character as the plot unfolds, e.g. Suikoden III. Personally I don’t like this new trend, I like being able to play through a game with one character but Cattle Call decided that this was the way to go with Arc the Lad. In the game you will start as Kharg, an energetic Prince who is starting to become a pretty solid fighter. You will also play as Kharg’s brother Darc who were separated at birth. Darc is half human and half Deimos and this will play a big part in the storyline.
Right when you get into the game you will find that Arc the Lad looks exactly like all the other RPG’s on the market. It really seems like Cattle Call just took the safe approach and went for the basics instead of something new. The game does start off extremely slow giving you a few boring missions and it takes a long while for the game to really get going. But once you do get into Arc the Lad it can be a very rewarding title.
Besides the story telling there is a game behind all of it that plays like all of the other RPG’s out there. There are really two different types of RPG’s out there which are the turn based action systems and then there are the real time action systems. Arc the Lad takes the approach of the turn based system is pretty straight forward with one twist that tries to make it different from the rest of the pack. Instead of just standing in one place the whole time you do have the mobility of your character. Depending on your character, you are given a circle, in which you can move anywhere within that circle, ala Breath of Fire: Dragon Quarter . This makes the battle easier as you can gang up on enemies, or move behind them to inflict more damage. To further add an element of strategy, there are items on the battle field that you can get from eliminated enemies, but you have to pick them up before the battle ends. It does sound weird, but it works pretty well here.
It’s worth mentioning that you do have magic and special attacks in the game, and they are executed by spending some Spirit Stones. This feature acts as a check and balance for the battle system, as you can only carry a set amount of Spirit Stones. These magic and special attacks are quite spectacular, and vary from defensive, attribute enhancing to offensive skills. You can get more Spirit Stones from fallen enemies, or buy them from shops, which is very convenient for players.
Arc the Lad is a pretty standard RPG that does a great job of doing things by the book. Which means that fans of the genre are going to find plenty of good times in this game, but there just isn’t anything in this game that makes you excited to play it, which in the long haul will hurt the game.
As we have discussed throughout the game review, Arc the Lad seems to go along the road of average RPG’s. This also remains true when we get to the graphics portion of the review. Arc the Lad is a pretty long game so it makes sense why they couldn’t make all of the environments very detailed. But out of all the graphics in the game the environments are probably the more impressive portion of the game. Each environment really has it’s own unique look to it that keeps you from getting bored with the game.
On the downside of Arc the Lad the character models are really lacking any sort of detail or artistic flair. You usually find very elaborate characters in RPG’s but you won’t see much detail or individuality out of these characters which is quite disappointing. Also not impressive are the enemies which can range from rodents to pretty big sized enemies they really lack any sort of detail what so ever.
Overall the graphics seem to cancel out the good with the bad to make around average graphical score. I just would have like to have seen some more detail put forth to the characters.
One of the great things about RPG’s are that they are not games that you are going to be able to fit in one or two sittings. This is a game that will take you quite some time to get through. Arc the Lad isn’t really a difficult game but there is a lot of dialogue that slows the game down and then there is also a lot of adventure elements in the game that will take some time as well. Basically if you like turn based RPG’s then you will most likely have a lot of fun with Arc the Lad: Twilight of the Spirits.
If Cattle Call was trying to make a game that stayed on the line of normality for the RPG genre, then they did an excellent job with this one. There is not much new to find in this one, but there is a lot of good RPG gameplay to be had. If you are looking for a good new RPG for your PS2 library Arc the Lad: Twilight of the Spirits would be a mighty nice choice.
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