Arc the Lad: Twilight of the Spirits
I thought the first three Arc role-playing games were mediocre, and this one’s only marginally better. The old games’ pseudostrategy battles normally degraded into surrounding an enemy and hacking away until it died. Sadly, Twilight’s combat suffers from the exact same problem, but with the added bonus of crazy, uneven difficulty. Once in a while the game dishes up a particularly crucial battle that requires you to defeat multiple foes with one guy or protect self-destructive characters from harm. These skirmishes, while cool from a plot standpoint, screw up the difficulty curve and game progression, often requiring three or four replays to be successful. But if you can deal with the severe challenge (and I know some people will), Ards story is surprisingly cool. You divide your time playing as two separated-at-birth brothers who are drawn together by fate, and it’s a neat payoff to merge their disparate tales. Also, plenty of subtle references to previous Arc games will surely please series fans. Overall, Twilight is a serviceable RPG, just not a great one.
I’m not sure why Greg has such a hate-on for the Arc franchise. I think he’s being a little rough on Twilight. I feel the combat is unique and fun-you’re not limited to moving on a grid, allowing fluid, free-form strategy. And while it’s true that some battles are indeed hard, I never found ’em frustrating. He’s right about the parallel-perspective plot, though: It’s absolutely engaging. This 40-hour quest could’ve really used a few legitimate dungeons to explore, but the narrative and combat alone kept me hooked.
While I have to agree with Greg about the occasional tricky battles, I guess they don’t bother me as much. And I certainly don’t think he’s giving enough credit to the combat-there’s lots of strategy involved. Arc had me surprisingly captivated throughout. Mainly because of the interesting story and characters, but also because of the solid graphics and wonderful music. It may not be perfect, but it is the perfect RPG escape for these long summer months.
Download Arc the Lad: Twilight of the Spirits
Now that you've caught up on the last seven years of Arc games with the Arc the Lad Collection (PS1), you're finally ready for this all-new fourth chapter in the strategy-RPG series.
Actually, even if you missed the old games, don't fret--part four hails from a different developer, so it has a unique feel, a fresh story, and completely new characters. And unlike the previous PS1 relics, this one doesn't belong in a museum-- sharp visuals and faster tactical battles could breathe fresh life into the franchise.
While many developers are stretching the traditional boundaries of various genres, Arc the Lad's took a surprisingly different approach. Instead of focusing on creating new innovative concepts for an RPG, they focused on developing a solid, well-designed game that has few holes or design flaws. Although some innovation can be found, it's the implementation of established RPG features that will keep you playing.
Following similar a story line to numerous RPGs before it, Arc the Lad: Twilight of the Spirits starts off with a world split into two distinct factions, Humans and the monster-like Deimos. The story is told through two brothers, one raised human and the other raised Deimos. Oblivious to each other's existence, they each start out on highly different paths and attempt to capture the Great Spirit Stones used as an energy source to keep their separate empires running. As you progress through the game, you'll jump from one brother to another until the stories merge, which works great at expanding the story and keeping the game fresh with different perspectives.
Although most aspects of the game do follow tried and true formulas with magic abilities, magic and hit points, different skill sets, and level increases, there is one area that has a touch of originality. Instead of pure turn-based combat, a different element has been added which takes into account your proximity to attacking enemies. You still select a specific attack, either regular or magic, but you have the option to position your heroes within a certain area for the best attack angle. For instance, when it's your turn to attack an enemy group, you'll only be able to hit those in a highlighted area around you. That area can be extended depending on the attack selected but you may not be able to attack at all if they are out of range. Attack strength can also be increased depending on how you approach an enemy. Attacking from behind, for instance, will be a stronger hit then directly in front. In addition, when enemies are destroyed, often they drop gold or other items that can be picked up before an attack. Although that will cost you the opportunity to attack, if you don't pick it up it'll disappear after the combat is over. Most will find this type of RPG combat improved over the usually style as more control and strategy can be applied.
Besides the solid gameplay structure, the graphics and audio hold up the rest of the game. Although not cutting edge, the graphics still hold their own with a respectable amount of visual detail and creative attack sequences. The audio also does well as cut scenes actually use voice-overs that help add depth to the characters and also carries the normal RPG music.
Overall, Arc the Lad: Twilight of the Spirits may not be the most innovative RPG this year but it does put together a game that most RPG fans will enjoy. The lack of originality may not put it in the running for game of the year, but the well-designed gameplay will keep you busy for some time.