*Please remember this is a preview build and is not the final release.
Aarklash: Legacy, is developed by Cyanide Studio, the creators behind ‘Confrontation’ both games are set within the confrontation universe which was adapted from the popular fantasy board game, much like Warhammer Series of Board Games, but that is where the similarities end. The most important facet of the game is combat strategy which is based on an active pause system story line and the evolution of your game characters, if you like tactical/RPG type games or a mix of them both then this game is perfect for you
Aarklash: Legacy puts you in command of a band of mercenaries called ‘Wheel Swords’ who complete tasks from the guild they serve. You start the game in control of 4 Wheel Swords Knokka, Denzil, Wendaroo and Nella. The game opens with the group of WheelSwords retrieving an item for their guild that are allied too, after fighting their way out (this is primarily a tutorial section), they uncover a more sinister plot on a man who didn’t want to pay his debts.This leads to a more epic journey which the 4 will undertake. Knokka, is the most free-willed character out of the four Wheel Swords, she is the tank/brute, wielding a two handed sword. Denzil, is the thief, Wendaroo who is a strong warrior and even better healer and finally Nella, the fire mage.
Most of the story is told in written and verbal cut scenes; the voice acting really splits apart each member and makes them feel like a band of uniquely skilled mercenaries. There are no CGI cut scenes and everything is done in engine which helps you stay immersed in this world, unlike most games where you get a clear disjoint between pre-rendered scenes and in game footage and can make you lose that emersion in the story and portrayal.
This is a tactical combat game so when you enter battle it pauses automatically, allowing you to assess the situation, take action and prepare for a tough fight. This automatic pause is very nice feature and helps a lot, it gives you time to ensure that the party is at full strength, what enemies you will be engaging with and what actions to take. Fans of Baldur’s Gate and similar games will find this style of combat familiar. With such an emphasis on strategy, learning will give you power. During encounters with enemies you can find out their style and combat information, such as their strengths and weaknesses, including their special ability to help you adjust your team’s formation and approach. But this doesn’t mean that the combat is going to get easier the more you learn. Situations on the battlefield can and will shift on the fly keeping you on your toes and having to think fast to react. Combat will become insanely hard if you do not stay alert to the current battle situation and use the correct skills in certain situations. It’s not just the characters that you should prepare before a fight, save the game manually in small intervals as the auto save feature saves are far and few.
Gearing up your group is going to be a bigger task than the fights, finding treasure chests or defeating tough enemies will reward you with some gear such as rings, talismans or necklaces. These give you stat bonuses, different stats are suited towards different characters so choose which item to equip onto which character. That is the extent of the current outfitting, there are currently no weapons or armour that you can find, but hopefully more will be added before the release of the game.
Each character has 4 skills they can use in battle; you have a skill tree for each character that lets you improve on these skills once it is unlocked, and you unlock these skills after putting a point into the prior skill, the skills tree has two paths to each of the four skills per character. The skills would change things drastically to offer a varied, tactical gameplay. It gives you the potential to really make each character feel unique and hone in on your play style. Each skill for each character is unique to each other and has different effects. The mage for example has 4 ranged skills, one is healing and the others are spells to inflict damage onto the enemy.
The overall quality of the game is like a triple A budget. The artwork is some of the best I have seen in a video game along with the concept art on the loading screens. The style and fluidity of the game makes it feel like an already released game compared its current preview state. The environments are gorgeous and have varied styles within them making each level stand out on its own merits and stop the game from feeling repetitive. The user interface is one of my personal favourite aspects in the game, it is gorgeous and detailed without feeling intrusive, which is a very good thing to have in what is a tactical combat based game.
If you are a veteran for this style of game or a newcomer, Aarklash: Legacy is worth pre-ordering. The games art style is gorgeous and the characters are unique and each has different personalities making them feel like a family. The combat will keep you locked in for hours and as you start to progress will have you scratching your head. The current release date is set for September 2013.