Lord of Arcana - Staff Review  

No One Said Being A Lord Was Easy
by Roy "Rosestorm" Burnet

20-40 Hours
- Battle system is standard, unoriginal action RPG fare
+ Interface is serviceable to the task
- A not-very-good rip on Monster Hunter
- Music is generic and unmemorable
+ Visuals are just as good as SE's past efforts on the PSP.
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   Lord of Arcana is a bad game, there is no other means of describing the thing. It's not just a bad game in its own right, it simply tries very hard to emulate the experience of the Monster Hunter series, and fails miserably at doing so. It's a game that wants to be something more, but just doesn't have the legs to reach the finish line, as it were.

   Lord of Arcana takes place in a world called Horodyn, named after the land's first king. Somewhere in Horodyn lies an ancient stone known only as "Arcana," which apparently holds great magical power. Unfortunately, the world is home to many great and powerful species other than humans, which are fought by Arcana-seeking warriors known as Slayers. Whoever finds the Arcana stone first will be proclaimed the king of the land, and that is where the narrative ends. This is not a game that will be picked up for its exposition. While it does have slightly more story than the Monster Hunter series, this game falls flat on the narrative end.

   In the tradition of the Monster Hunter series, the game takes place in a central hub town where players will receive and undertake missions, craft new items and equipment, and buy and sell new weapons and armor. This game places a much bigger emphasis on buying equipment rather than crafting it. There is a crafting system present, but it's very minimalistic and can be ignored entirely. The one convenient equipment aspect the game possesses is the ability to shop and craft in the same location. The other main locales of the town are the wireless hub building, that will allow players to team up with friends, is the temple and the guild hut from which players will accept missions. The guild building also offers other services such as changing one's weapon class and appearance, as well as a chest in which to stock surplus inventory items. The game features two types of missions: guild and arcana. Guild missions are the meat of the game and are where players will spend most of their time, as these quests must be completed in order to unlock the arcana missions. The arcana missions progress what little story there is, and according to the game's lore, Slayers must defeat and tame the Arcana Guardians in order to find the Arcana Stone. As the Guardians are the bosses, no one saw that coming.

I think he has a tummy ache I think he has a tummy ache

   Lord of Arcana's battle system is concurrently functional and broken at the same time. In a departure from Monster Hunter's system, Lord of Arcana has a leveling ability, though it is a pointless featuere when enemy levels scale with the player. For example, a goblin that was hard to beat in the beginning of the game will be just as tough at the end. Lord of Arcana has several different weapon classes, each with slight differences in its play style. For example, the mace is a medium hit weapon with a focus on dodging, whereas great-swords are heavy hit weapons that strike hard but have low defense or dodging capabilities. The basic structure is pretty simple, for each mission has a clear goal: either kill some marked enemy or find a certain item. The similarities in the battle system are close to either Kingdom Hearts or FF7: Crisis Core, so players who have experienced these titles will be in their element. This is a standard action RPG in every sense of the word, but the biggest problem with the game is that in order to make any headway, it almost requires that friends participate, which wouldn't be a problem if Lord of Arcana had an online option. However, the game is limited to local wireless, which means anyone who doesn't have another owner of the game in close proximity is simply out of luck.

I'm sensing some anger issues I'm sensing some anger issues

   On a presentation level, Lord of Arcana uses the same engine as the Dissidia games, so it certainly has some visual flare, but this is not matched by the audio. The game uses a heavy metal soundtrack that is uninspired to say the least, and very grating on the ears. The tracks are all generic action music at the best of times, which is rather disgraceful as Final Fantasy veteran Nobuo Uematsu wrote them. Even the visual flare is not thorough, as the game's limited number of environments forces players to traverse identical terrain in different locations. The graphic engine has a lot of clipping when various designs that show up over equipment are introduced, though it is a fairly minor issue. While the visual punch of the game is perhaps its one saving grace, it's not enough to ameliorate the myriad of other flaws.

   In the beginning Lord of Arcana is a promising game, but its flaws are just too numerous to outweigh what little the game does right. While it is one of the first games released in the West that tries to mimic the Monster Hunter franchise, it fails with gusto. Since it does not succeed in mimicking another franchise one would hope that it might have enough unique aspects to give it a distinct identity, but alas it fails to even hit that mark. Ultimately, Lord of Arcana does not succeed as a viable Monster Hunter clone, both because of the broken battle system or the lack of variation in the missions available. If you are a Monster Hunter fan looking for a fix until the next comes out in the West, your money would be better spent elsewhere.

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