Lord of Arcana Review

Lord Title

Title: Lord of Arcana
Developer: Access Games, Square Enix (Publisher)
Game Type: PlayStation Portable
Download: 656 MB
NA Availability: Digital Download | Direct Download
EU Availability: Digital Download | Direct Download

Hunting RPGs are a growing trend with handheld systems.  They have also gone by many names.  Raiding Games.  Hunting Games.  Or, just in the mix of Action RPGs.  There are many different types of these that even the Vita can play.  God Eater.  Soul Sacrifice.  Ragnarok Odyssey.  Monster Hunter.  There are many different franchises for this and they keep growing larger as the years go by.  Even the Nintendo 3DS and PlayStation 4 are getting them.

Among all of the Hunting RPGs, though, there are some things that some RPG fans feel are missing.  Many of the Hunting RPGs don’t feel quite like standard RPGs.  Many RPG fans have wanted other things available to these games.  Like the ability to increase your stats by gaining experience rather than just by clearing chapters.  Leveling systems and the ability to use weapons as well as magic.

As we dive into another Hunting RPG franchise, we go back into the PSP library.  Among all of the franchises, only one has come from a game company known for RPGs.  Today we dive into a game done by none other than Square Enix, the company behind the Final Fantasy franchise.  While they are working on a new Hunting RPG in the Final Fantasy universe, today we are going into their first try at this genre.  Here is our official review of Lord of Arcana!

Story

Lord Story

The story of Lord of Arcana takes place in a kingdom called Horodyn.  Horodyn was named after the man whom became his first king.  He was a warrior from a distant land, bringing with him a world-conquering power known as Arcana.  Little is known about where he came from, how he got the Arcana power, or why he left his original land to come to Horodyn.  Those mysteries are ever-buried in history.

You are a new warriors whom is teleported to a guild for what are called Slayers.  They are a guild trapped by a forest filled with terrifying monsters.  As you are dropped in, you are tasked with collecting the power of the King of old.  As you join the guild and go out on quests, it is your destiny to gain the power of each of the Arcana monsters to be able to control all elements and become Horodyn’s new Monarch, while slowly learning about the king’s past.

The story of Lord of Arcana is not a high point of the game.  You will see some backstory here and there, but there are no major scenes.  This game is all about the gameplay.

Gameplay

Lord Game 1

Lord of Arcana is a Hunting RPG.  If you’re not familiar with the genre, then we can just consider it an Action RPG.  In the game, you will be taking on quests.  During these quests, you will be engaging enemies and bosses in real-time battles as well as collecting materials.  The best comparisons we could make are other games in the genre, like Monster Hunter, God Eater, or Soul Sacrifice.  While it has some things that make it unique, it is a Hunting RPG that goes along with those other games.

Your main base of operations is where the Slayer Guild is.  This is where you always end up after doing a quest.  This place has four main sections of facilities.  There is a Guild Services, The Guild Community, The Item Shops, and the Blacksmith.  Each of these has specific features and you will likely finding yourself using all of them quite often once the first chapter of the story is finished.  Although one of them is multiplayer-based, using all of them will be key to the easiest time through the game.

The Guild Services is where you can take on missions as well as change your items and equipment.  The first clerk here will let you choose a quest/mission from any of the story chapters you have currently cleared.  The other clerk will handle customization.  This will let you access your item storage to deposit or withdraw items as well as changing your equipment, magic, and battle skills.  Since you can only carry and be equipped with so much, it’s important to always check this to make sure you have what you want before going out on a specific mission.  For example, you don’t want to go fight a fire-elemental boss with the Flame spell equipped.

The Guild Community is where you take part in multiplayer co-op missions.  This will allow you to recruit friends to help you on quests.  However, the game only has Ad Hoc Multiplayer.  So, your options there are very limited.

The Item shops are where you can create and purchase items.  This could be as simple as stocking up on potions or creating materials you need for new pieces of equipment or weapons.  Each of the items requires you synthesize with materials you can find on quests, so make sure you never throw anything away.  Even if it seems useless, it could be the difference between having enough potions on your next quest and not having enough.

The final section is the Blacksmith.  You won’t be using him very often in your first chapter, but once you hit Chapter 2, you will be using him a lot.  The Blacksmith is used to create new weapons, armor, cards, and orbs.  Weapons and Armor will help increase your stats along with various other effects.  Cards are used to enable magic spells and summonings called “Ultimate Spells”.  Finally, Orbs are used as accessories, offering various bonus effects, like seeing weaknesses or providing elemental resistances.  You can use materials to either create new items here or enhance your current equipment and orbs to make them more powerful.

Lord Game 2

Going on quests, themselves, is where the meat of the game is.  Every chapter offers at least a few quests, and then the Arcana Awakening quests to finish the chapter and gain Arcana power.   Each of these quests has an objective.  Objectives range, but are mostly either collecting a certain item or defeating an enemy, or a certain number of an enemy.  When you go into each quest, though, expect to fight battles as you perform your objective.

The quests offer various small areas to go through, much like quests work in Monster Hunter and Ragnarok Odyssey.  Navigating through these areas is sometimes tricky, though.  There are many areas that are locked.  These have enemies known as Guardians wandering around.  These enemies aren’t any different from the other random enemies around, but you must defeat them to unlock these areas.  There are also statues you can attack to create warp points for easy access to some areas.

Fighting battles is where Lord of Arcana gets its uniqueness.  Unlike the other games in the genre, Lord of Arcana’s battles don’t take place in the open areas you run around, normally.  When you find an enemy, battles take place on their own plane, much like they do in other more standardized Action RPGs like the Tales Of games or Valhalla Knights.  When you touch an enemy, you can start the battle and you will start in one of many ways.  If you hit them from behind, you will have an advantage, giving you a power boost.  If they hit you from behind, it will be their advantage and your attack will be lowered.  There are also Raid Battles, where you will fight several battles in succession.

In each battle, you will have one or more targets in an arena with you.  You will be able to lock on and attack these enemies with your weapon of choice, from Sword to Great Sword to Fire Lance to Mace and more.  As you do damage to the enemy, they will also be able to attack you, which you or they can guard or dodge.  Doing physical damage will also increase your Mana, enabling you to use magic spells or summons.  Once you do enough damage, you can participate in a cinematic mini-game called the Coup de Grace.  This is also there for bosses, though serves as more of a button-prompt mini-game to finish them off.

One thing to keep a close eye on is your “Pulse” gauge.  This is like a Stamina gauge.  Whenever you run, guard, dodge, or perform special skills, your Pulse will rise.  If it raises too high, you will be forced to stop and not be able to do anything until it falls back down.  It’s important to always watch this when in battle to make sure it never peaks or you’ll be in trouble.

The most unique part of Lord of Arcana is the end of each battle.  When you finish battles in most Hunting RPGs, you get materials.  You do in Lord of Arcana as well, but you also get experience points.  Lord of Arcana has a much more traditional RPG feel.  It has three leveling systems.  You get experience for battles and you will level up to increase your stats.  This is one thing that most Hunting RPGs do not have.  You also have Weapon and Magic Proficiency levels.  When you use your weapon or magic spells in battle, this will increase, allowing you to use more skills and do more damage.

At the end of each quest, you will be graded by several things, from completion time to how many of the two revives you used.  Your grade will determine how many Guild Points you get, which will increase your Guild Rank, which is a requirement for the higher quests.

The big thing in Lord of Arcana is grinding.  Once you start getting materials for weapons and orbs, you will find that you will need to repeat some quests or bosses several times to get every high piece of equipment and weapon and orb and card for each chapter.  It will not be a surprise if you end up fighting each Arcana boss at least 3-4 times in their respective chapter.  That is one thing about the game.  You must like the gameplay style, because you’ll be using it a lot.

Among Lord of Arcana’s 11 Story Chapters and quests, the game will take you at least 25 hours to finish, and much more if you do all of the side-quests and extra content.  This is about on part with the initial content of games like God Eater Burst and Ragnarok Odyssey Ace.  It’s a game that won’t be a short one, but won’t be terribly long, either.

Controls

The controls for Lord of Arcana are something that is definitely improved by playing on the PS Vita system.  You will be using most of the buttons as you play through the games and the camera, most notably, is heavily made more comfortable by shifting the D-Pad controls over to the Right Analog Stick.

You will be moving your character with the Left Analog Stick and the camera is controlled with the D-Pad, as I mentioned above.  The rest of the controls will mostly be used with combat.  First off, the L and R buttons are used   Locking onto targets as well as running/dashing through the arena, rather than walking.  The Select Button will also be used to pull up your item menu, so you can consume items like potions.

The rest of the controls are mostly handled by the face buttons.  The X button will let you guard and dodge.  The Square Button allows you to attack with your weapon, and the Triangle button will let you use your equipped Battle Art.  Finally, the Circle button will let you case your equipped spell and holding down both Triangle and Circle lets you use a full Mana bar to perform your Ultimate Spell.

The controls aren’t too technical to learn, but you’ll still be using pretty much every button on the system as you play through the game.

Presentation

Lord Pres

The presentation of Lord of Arcana isn’t the best for a PSP game, but it’s also not terrible.  As far as the in-game visuals go, it didn’t lose a lot of crispness in the transition to the Vita’s screen.  While there are a lot of jagged edges and some blurred faces in the game, this was the case with the base game on the PSP as well.  It’s about on par with the visuals of God Eater Burst.  They don’t look bad, but also don’t look great.

One thing to say about the visuals, though, is it is a very violent-looking game.  What this means is that there is blood and gore pretty much everywhere you look when in battle.  With every slash of your sword, blood will splatter.  Along with this, when enemies are defeated, they explode in large chunks of meaty, bloody flesh.  This is on par with the kind of gore found in games like Doom 3 or Quake IV.

As far as how the game plays, though, it’s pretty decent.  The game plays smooth and the Load Times are mostly short.  While each quest does take about 10 seconds to load from the get—go, every other load time for the game is as short as 2-3 seconds.  You won’t be waiting very long at all going from area to area.

Summary

Lord of Arcana isn’t a bad first entry into the Hunting genre for Square Enix.  They took the basic formula behind games like Monster Hunter and added their own level of RPG customization to the mix.  On the downside, the amount of blood is over-the-top, and the game is very grind-focused and repetitive.  However, with a proper leveling, magic, and summon systems, and 25 hours of content, this game is definitely worth a look for Hunting and Action RPG fans alike. 

7/10

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