Lord of Arcana Review

Lord of Arcana

When players boot up Lord of Arcana, they’re greeted with a very Monster Hunter-like game. You customize your character. You choose a hulky weapon type. You even end up in an amnesiac state after the first mission, rendering your memories void and leaving you to learn as you go (seriously, that’s exactly how Monster Hunter Freedom 2 begins). Unfortunately, in trying to mimic every detail of its competition, LOA has also adopted some of Monster Hunter’s most damaging problems.

After players have produced their effeminate protagonist, a quintessential element of the Square Enix RPG axiom, they’re hurled into a prologue mission with a weapon of their choosing. There are five weapon types: sword, two-handed sword, mace, polearm, and firelance. Some of these weapons are shield-friendly and most deliver the same results, although the two-handed sword will slow you down quite a bit in exchange for a massive freakin’ blade. The firelance is more intriguing as it allows wielders the ability to charge and fire projectiles; an invaluable technique that seems necessary if one is playing alone.

Following the first mission, players awake in the land of Horodyn. Here, they are told of a magical stone called “Arcana.” Possessors of the stone are given a great power that can be used for good and betterment, or for evil and eventual doom. Your quest has begun.

And that’s about as far as the enjoyment of LOA will go. Once players get to the actual meat and potatoes of the game, they’ll find themselves starving. There are blemishes, pertinent and baffling, that absolutely ruin this game. It should be said that like most Japanese RPGs, LOA is a slow-paced dungeon crawler that does well to make players really feel like they’re in the game’s world. Other than that, though, it’s unbalanced, repetitious, and ill-designed.

The biggest bruise on LOA‘s face is the lack of online multiplayer. This was a cardinal sin when Monster Hunter Freedom 2 did it back in 2007. For LOA to err in the same manner four years later is just suicidal, especially as the supposed competition. Unless you have three other friends with PSPs and copies of LOA, you might as well just turn the game off. The missions are brutally unfair as a single-player quest. And that’s not even taking the wonky controls into account.

As the game begins its decent into the mission-save-mission formula, the difficulty becomes crippling. Without companions, the battles are unevenly crafted; enemies are much stronger than you and, you know, attack in groups. Needless to say, a lot of potions will be used during missions, but be sure to stick it out because any potion used won’t be returned if you fail or quit the mission. And money is hard to come by.

Even if players are able to rope some friends together, the missions aren’t very much fun anyway. The time given to complete them seems generous, but with the endless amount of enemies/items/treasures crammed in, the clock dwindles pretty quickly. Battles are monotonous and irritating to trudge through, but this is mainly because of the game’s control scheme, which is just terrible. You move your character with the analog stick. The R button is used to sprint and L is used to correct the camera. The d-pad only offers vertical camera movement and I. Don’t. Know. Why. The gameplay would be so much smoother and perhaps even tolerable if the left trigger didn’t have to be fondled every second to adjust the camera. Additionally, the left trigger is used to targets enemies, which just muddles up the fighting even further.

Overall, LOA is a failed attempt to rival a game that was wrought with its own set of problems years ago. However, instead of fixing these faults and thus making itself superior, LOA embraces them. The controls are shoddy, the music is doing its best cover of Dream Theater, and the in-game item/weapon creator requires far too much backtracking and grinding to be deemed worthy. But hey, at least the graphics are pretty.


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Author: Greg Galiffa View all posts by
Greg Galiffa is an Associate Editor at GamerNode. He's also an apologist for the first TMNT film. You can follow him on Twitter @greggaliffa

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