Arcanum Of Steamworks and Magick Obscura is a role playing game with some
extra bite. It has the standard array of elves, gnomes and orcs to interact
with. What makes this title infinitely more interesting, and keeps it from
becoming another Diablo clone is the time frame in which it is set. A fantasy
realm in the midst of an industrial revolution. This makes for endlessly
satisfying gameplay. The shear number of combinations of spells, skills, and
technologies will mystify casual gamers, but not to the point of intimidation.
On the contrary. Arcanum has enough excitement to appeal to hard core fans, and
casual players alike. It will easily take you upwards of sixty hours to complete
Arcanum to its conclusion. The gameplay is like pure addiction, and the story is
gripping, and involving.
It all starts with a catastrophe. Your player is a passenger on the Zephyr a
large eccentric looking blimp. Two odd flying vessels suddenly appear in the
sky, and attack the Zephyr destroying them-selves in the process. The blimp
ignites into flame, and smashes into the earth. There are no survivors save you,
and a dying old man. He musters enough strength to give you a ring along with a
cryptic message. Bring it to the boy. He will know what to do. (Promise you will
train the boy. He will bring balance to the force.) Your journey begins, with
this cryptic message, and a strange engraved ring.
The game has an incredible amount of equipment that ranges from standard such
as swords, and armor to rags and coal and empty cans. The uniqueness is in the
melding of technology and magick (that’s magic with a k folks.) I went from
wielding a bow and arrow to popping caps with a gun. This technology scheme set
within an industrial revolution brings new life to a stale fantasy RPG genre. I
must admit I was pleasantly surprised that I could construct molotov cocktail
bombs from garbage. Insanely cool. As are the different skills, spell colleges,
and combat options available.
The choices begin with the way you create your character. I spent at least a
good forty minutes going through all the different races, and backgrounds. You
can choose to create a human, an elf, a dwarf, male or female, half-breed or
pure. Each one having its own individual attributes that will affect how you
interact with NPC’s throughout the game, and how you hold up during battle.
Backgrounds are also available. For instance I chose to be a rich debutante in
one game. This allowed me to have stronger social skills so I could recruit
loyal warriors to join my party with more ease. As you defeat enemies you
receive points that need to be distributed to the different attributes of your
character. Eventually he or she will gain power and strength, or intelligence or
magic or any other choice that you see fit which will allow progression through
experience points. The higher the level of experience points, the more options
you have available to you. This makes replayability sky rocket as you control
and customize your character through the game. With all the different characters
and attributes to choose from, each game can play out differently.
You will also find that how you respond will have a direct influence on how
you are treated throughout by other characters. The magic spells are as numerous
as the choice of equipment, which is continuously upgraded so bartering never
gets tired. There is even a choice as to how combat is handled. There is the
standard click fest ala Diablo style, or a fast turn based option.
There are oodles of side quests that can be accomplished if you so choose.
The graphics are a bit dated as far as character models are concerned, but the
locales, and weapon effects are all solid. Many NPC’s do not talk, and your
character does not speak. This may be a draw back to some, but to me it is a
plus. Too many RPG games have poor voice talent that drawl on and on about crap.
Arcanum solves this by text based dialogue that is interesting enough to
progress the plot, and well written so that you actually care.
Arcanum is so huge that I can see how some gamers would shy away from playing
it. All the choices and complexities do have a higher learning curve than most
games, but it is absolutely worth it. Troika has included pre-created characters
and default level systems so the casual gamer won’t have to bother with the
sometimes overwhelming choices if they don’t wish. Once you jump in, and get the
hang of the controls the story will draw you in, and you’ll be hooked. This one
will be on your PC for months.
Fast install, but consumes a large amount of disc space.
Endless options galore. Incredibly large design, and just plain fun.
Scrolling through the map gets tedious at times.
Perhaps a bit dated, but overall they are solid. What can I say, I’ve been
playing Max Payne so anything will look dated compared to Max.
Appropriate sound, moody music. Decent voice acting.
This one’s got a high learning curve, but it’s worth it. Don’t worry the
manual is the size of a book.
Industrial revolution meets the fantasy realm. Can you say Star Wars?
You can form a party, and work cooperatively. Or you could always just kill
each other. There was some stuttering here, but I’ve heard the patch is already
out, so don’t fret.
Overall this game just rocks!