Generic is one of the worst things a game can be in 2015. When experimental games are getting so much coverage, AAA titles are pushing the envelope more and more and the gaming industry as a whole is moving forward, generic is bad. Unfortunately, Spellbound Studios missed that lesson when Arcania: Gothic 4 was developed back in 2010. Why the game was packaged up and reshipped with all of its DLC for the PS3 in 2013 and then again for the PS4 in 2015 is beyond me. But here we stand with Arcania: The Complete Tale as a downloadable game for the PS4.
Arcania is generic; there is no better term to define it. Your hero, let’s call him Hero, sets out seeking revenge after his life goes to hell. His seemingly perfect life filled with goblin killing and loot retrieval is upended by an evil army that destroys his village. With nothing left to lose, Hero decides to take down the evil army, you know, single handedly and all. So he turns in his life of goblin killing for…generic RPG monster killing, which includes more goblins. Surprisingly.
Booting up Arcania for the first time is like traveling back in time. You’re transported to 2010 when the visuals weren’t as crisp and the character models look a bit off. Maybe that’s a bit harsh to 2010, maybe it’s more like being sent back to 2007. Yeah, 2007. Yes, the framerate and graphics received a decent bump in the move to the PS4 but it’s obvious that the PS4 wasn’t taken full advantage of. Instead, Arcania looks like an outdated game, and it happens to play like one too.
The initial quests, while cleverly veiled in a “prove yourself to marry my daughter” cloak, amount to nothing more than fetch quests with bad voice acting and button mashing combat. In fact, that harshly laid out format can be applied to the majority of the quests and gameplay. Quests fall under the typical RPG archetypes of fetching, killing and exploring with no real excitement or diversity amongst them. In fact, at one point Hero even mentions how annoying it is to do these pointless jobs. When the main character knows something is wrong with the game design, you know there’s a problem.
Alas, some RPGs don’t survive on quests and story but combat alone. Unfortunately, combat is a series of button mashing and awkward animations and timing that makes the combat feel clunky. There’s a combo system that awards proper button timing, made all the harder with the awkward animations, as well as the choice of ranged and magic attacks. While this seems like a Fable-esque scenario that allows you to switch up your play style, the enemies in the game do little to make you want to. The only difference you’ll see in Hero’s progression is the changing armor and weapon sets he’ll receive over time. Don’t expect hours of learning and mastering combat, it’s simply not here.
The same could be said about Arcania’s world and lore. RPGs are known for their expansive worlds and interesting characters. While Arcania certainly has a decently-sized world, it’s one that feels pieced together and isn’t fun to explore. Quests are given out in each new zone you explore and they’re quickly exhausted. Once the quests are done there is little to no reason to stick around. Characters are uninteresting and the quests amount to nothing more than “go here kill this come back thanks”.
As if the generic and, quite frankly, boring pace of Arcania wasn’t bad enough, there are some bugs I ran into as well. The worst bug, and most annoying, was the random teleporting of enemies. Now, these aren’t wizards who teleport in battle to make life difficult. No, these are goblins, spiders, skeletons and more who randomly blink out of existence and reappear a few seconds later. Apparently this was done to fix a pathfinding issue but instead of fixing the issue they simply made the game worse. For shame.
Arcania is a generic RPG that can only be described as dull, uninteresting and not worth the $19.99 price tag. If you find it on sale, mega-sale even, and have nothing else to play I suppose you could romp around the world and mindlessly kill things. This isn’t one of those games that’s fun to play despite the jankiness. It’s just not fun.