2010 Reviews

Arcania: Gothic 4

  • Review Date: 2014-05
  • Release Date: 2010-10
  • Developer: Spellbound Entertainment
  • Rating: 7.5

This is my first time playing an Arcania game, but with it being a fairly standard, linear, third person action game, with mostly melee combat, it was about to see what this popular RPG is all about.

After completing in about ten hours, my thoughts are that it's just a fairly mediocre RPG. There's nothing that really stands out here, and in two years time I'll probably have forgotten everything about it. But for an RPG fan, particularly of the fantasy setting, it's fairly fun and decent looking.

The story follows the hero who's home island and fiancé are murdered, so goes on a revenge trip. Really, how many games follow the out-for-revenge plot. It's so unoriginal. But instead it turns into another complete fantasy game cliché - a demon has been released whom only you can defeat. Which is odd because at the start the character just seemed to be an average joe. Anyway the story develops okay, but cutscenes are just static images. Spellbound obviously didn't want to put a lot of effort into cutscenes. The ending was completely abrupt, confusing and left little closure.

The design was actually pretty good, overall. The islands were made up of a mix of small villages, the odd larger castle, but mostly mountainous terrain and jungle. Climbing up cliffs overlooking the cold ocean and beach below gave a very bleak, desolate feeling. The graphics engine isn't as fine-tuned as others, with a slight lack of detail sometimes and real lack of post processing effects. But that's not always a bad thing. Some of the textures were very nice, especially the terrain. To experience the world of Arcania is the main reason for playing this game.

Character models are another story though. Most characters show zero creativity, both visually and the voice acting. It's almost like the characters were modelled after the developers of the game - mostly computer geeks! The voices are also pretty bad. Even the main character is a whiney, unlikable little bitch, sounding like he's directly out of the 21st Century with most of what he says. There are some decent looking creatures, but equally a lot of small, flimsy looking models.

The gameplay and combat is also middle of the road. Most of the game is melee with a sword, though you do have a bow and arrow, I found them to be pretty useless. Then as the game progresses you can unlock more powerful magic attacks - either fire or electrical. I stuck with fire. A lot of users seem to find the game too easy with fire attacks, but I found they took too long to recharge and just stuck with melee anyway. It was quicker just to kill enemies by the sword.

It's probably not a very difficult game for most, especially as you progress. By the last 1/3 I'd found a pretty wicked sword, very good armour and the fire attack was maxed out, so most enemies just stood there doing nothing while I repeatedly hit them, somehow unable to break my combo. Probably the troll and final boss were the only enemies that didn't just stand there most of the time.

However it can get dangerous if you get surrounded by enemies, especially those with projectiles which were probably the only dangerous ones in the game. There were some trickier bits earlier in the game, but overall it's not a hard game.

So overall Arcania: Gothic 4 is a game for the fantasy RPG fan. I'm one of those, so I definitely enjoyed it. It's the poor mans Dragon Age, a bit more budget and mediocre it just about every area.


Arcania: Fall of Setarrif

This is a stand-alone expansion pack released a year later. It would let me import my previous character, but that's okay because started with a new one actually gave me a MUCH more powerful character anyway. I got about 2 hours, if that, before I wasn't able to continue due to a glitch. It would let me walk down a set of stairs, with something invisible blocking my path. Not the only time this expansion had clipping issues, they're fucking everywhere. The levels, while they look good, are awfully laid out. The main area of Setarrif is a maze-like mess. But to be honest, both this and the main game often had issues letting you know where to go next.

I also encountered a lot of graphical glitches. Textures missing, enemies missing their healthbars. At only 2-3 hours of playtime, this isn't worth it unless you can get it for free. Hardly compares to Dragon Age's Awakening expansion with over 10 hours of fun. This is more of a DLC in terms of content, not a full expansion.

Arcania: Gothic 4