April 14, 2024

Closing Fantasy Ways nailed so many issues so exquisitely that, regardless of loads of sequels, religious successors, and fan homages, there’s by no means been something fairly prefer it since. Arcadian Atlas is the newest indie technique RPG to attempt to channel its greatness into one thing acquainted however new, and sadly, it principally flounders.

Created by Twin Otter Studios, Arcadian Atlas got here to Steam on July 27 after first getting funded on Kickstarter means again in 2016. Regardless of the years of ready, it appears like a tough first draft that wants extra work. Set in a kingdom thrust into civil conflict over a succession disaster and royal household in-fighting, it follows two romantically concerned troopers, Vashti and Desmond, onto the battlefield as their conflicting loyalties and rules threaten to unravel their lives. Each scene is rendered with lovely sprites harking back to Sq. Enix’s basic, and every new plot level is punctuated by a turn-based battle on a chessboard-like grid between competing squads of archers, medics, magicians and knights.

Gif: Twin Otter Studios / Kotaku

I’ve performed about 4 hours to this point, and the story may be compelling when it doesn’t really feel barebones or clumsy. Star-crossed lovers thrust into the chaos of a civil conflict is a high quality crucible for interrogating what makes characters tick and the way far they’re prepared to go to battle for what issues most to them, even when the dialogue typically feels undercooked, “Pay attention, I’m not glad about it both, however you know the way a lot darkish magic broken my village,” Desmond tells Vashti early on. “As a lot as I hate to say it, he must be put to loss of life.”

However the actual difficulty with Arcadian Atlas is that it’s a chore to navigate and play, and there’s no actual creativity or depth in its RPG techniques to make battles thrilling or make it satisfying to develop and degree up your crew. Talent timber are temporary and principally revolve round incomes harm upgrades. There are a dozen distinctive job courses, however you’ll be able to’t combine and match skills. Fight additionally closely favors ranged models, which have good harm output and little danger of ever lacking their goal.

Screenshot: Twin Otter Studios

The battlefield additionally feels wonky and incomplete. Animations for unit motion and assaults don’t really feel fluid, and terrain has no actual affect on technique. Fireballs and arrows can cross by obstacles and comrades unimpeded, whereas melee models can strike anybody subsequent to them regardless of how a lot greater or decrease the adjoining squares are. It makes for very unbalanced encounters with little in the way in which of tactical trade-offs to think about or competing priorities to weigh.

In isolation, none of those shortcomings can be that massive of a problem, however taken collectively they slowly add as much as a simplistic and tedious expertise that’s exhausting to advocate to even the style’s largest followers. Ultimately even the mildest frustrations change into exhausting to disregard, like having to press the settle for button to progress each completed loading display, and the truth that navigating the battlefield grid requires repeatedly flicking the thumbstick on the gamepad fairly than merely holding it. The sport helps mouse and keyboard as nicely, however I truly discovered the cursor controls to be much more finicky and sticky.

One of many few factors of delight for me in every battle was the soundtrack. As an alternative of dramatic horns and violins, Arcadian Atlas’ jazz-infused soundtrack by composer Moritz P.G. Katz is dominated by saxophones and guitars. The usual fight music specifically is so oddly surprising however catchy, I nonetheless discovered it enjoying inside my head days later. I want I may say the remainder of my time with the sport felt as memorable.