Review: Lord of Arcana

Lord of Arcana is a familiar, yet barebones release. It incorporates much of what makes higher-profile offerings a delight to play and doesn’t pretend to be anything more than an echo of successful games past. Take the portable Monster Hunter releases — plenty of loot, accessible multiplayer, and pacing that makes it easy to see why the franchise is so popular. In contrast, Lord of Arcana drags along, forces you to grind excessively, and offers little in return. I can’t say I was surprised at this revelation, but during the course of my solo adventure, I was frequently enraged and ready to quit playing.

The game isn’t exactly built for solo players. Hailing from Horodyn, you assume the role of one generic amnesiac — original, right? After a brief tutorial demonstrating the game’s full potential when you manage to outfit yourself properly, you’re stripped of any and all belongings. It’s a slow rise to prosperity, especially in a game that expects you’ll be teaming up with a few other willing buddies to tackle it. I, however, did not — nor did I know of anyone in my immediate vicinity with the game or anyone who had even heard of it for that matter. With no online multiplayer or any way to find other players beyond your circle of friends or networking, Lord of Arcana is a lonely exercise.

It’s basically your run-of-the-mill RPG that requires plenty of experience to be earned, items awarded, and supplies collected to further your cause. In the game’s first village you’re outfitted by some generous townsfolk, but even the quests they provide are no cakewalk if you’re flying solo, and it only gets harder from there.

Quests vary from fetching different items, felling vicious foes, getting from point A to point B, and a myriad of other achingly mundane bullets on a Honey-Do list. You would think they would be simple enough to complete, return, and accept your reward, but the monsters standing between you and victory aren’t exactly a pushover. Grind all you like. “Starter” baddies like the quintessential goblins need entirely too many hits before they finally kick the bucket.

Whether you’ve been questing for one hour or five, the result is the same. I would assume these seemingly superpowered beasts are much simpler with another would-be hero present, but as I was not fortunate enough to find another player I was unable to find out firsthand.

Insufficient weaponry, supplies, and even a lack of time spell out defeat in Lord of Arcana, as you’re expected to work hard for every single scrap. Alone, it’s frustrating and every bit of tedious. With a party of adventurers (up to four) or even a partner, it might lessen the pains taken to become properly outfitted and complete the bevy of quests thrown your way, but there’s just no real reason to keep plugging away alone in this unkind world.

Clumsy targeting during battles and unforgiving difficulty aside, Lord of Arcana’s problems also lie in its lack of “checkpoints.” Failing out of a quest because of death, time constraints, or similar pitfalls means the loss of all the important loot collected and the futility of your hard work. You’ll need to began again from your previous save, so unless you’re liberal with recording your progress, look forward to spending far more time than necessary backtracking and grinding just to get back where you were before meeting your death or missing out on a time limit.

It’s a little unfair to say Lord of Arcana is a terrible game. It’s just not meant to be played alone, which is unacceptable considering its lack of online support. The odds of finding any players locally are almost infinitesimal, unless you and your buddies agree to team up and each purchase a copy. Without additional players, it’s extremely tough to enjoy the game or make much progress, so I can’t quite recommend it in place of the far better offerings out there.

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