Arc of Alchemist as a game is something I can only best describe as a mobile game in a console game’s box cover. There are quite a few elements that force me to believe that it was made to be a mobile game yet despite all the odds had to blend in with the many other console titles we see in today’s market. It’s a big bad wolf and one that very much likes to keep the game simple enough to pick up and play before biting your sweet nectars of labour with its stale and mindless combat among other things that makes it more of a repetitive loop than a fun experience to come back to.
Right off the bat, I would like to say that I’m a huge sucker for most of the RPGs that Idea Factory and Compile Heart can cook up in their little factory. But this is not one of those cases. From its unorthodox story progression that separates its character-building when you’re in your so-called base of operations to its core narrative while exploring the barren wasteland. It fails to give enough context to make us care about its characters and world without having to spend a lot of your time going to the headquarters more often than you would’ve wanted.
Players will be put in the boots of Quinn Bravesford, a captain of an expedition team in search of the rumoured “Great Power” to save the world and everyone in it. From the old geezers to the young and childish stereotypes we all know and love, you will form teams to explore a barren world filled with sand piles and forgotten mechanical structures. In true dungeon-crawler fashion, players will fight monsters from the most generic-looking sand crabs a.k.a. scorpions to gigantic toads and mechanical automatons with melee combos and special attacks unique to each weapon. As you progress, you’ll also gain access to certain orbs such as a fire orb to unlock treasure chests encased in a block of ice or a wind orb that negates the effects of path-blocking sand tornados. They can also be used together for a greater effect like creating structures that either attack or heal, place mines or create fiery tornados to deal a good amount of damage in an area. Although despite its best attempts to make it unique from your average hack n’ slash RPGs, the one thing that kills its combat is its balls to the wall mindless monsters that forgot “how to monster” and simply run towards you and attack aimlessly.
The latter half of the game’s core mechanics comes down to its base building though where you will be able to unlock new gear and items for purchase once you level up your base and structures. There’s also the option to train your characters from the headquarters to increase their parameters or learn new skills instead of learning new abilities as you level up through exploration. However, if there is one thing the game could’ve done better is giving us a better way to learn which monsters or what areas have specific materials for upgrading the base. Often times I find myself scratching my head on where to look for materials I already obtained previously but lack enough to upgrade certain facilities.
The world and its environment also feel lacking. As a game centred towards exploration, there are very little differences from one part of the map to the next one. While it’s understandable that the game is projecting a barren world that requires salvation, it still feels like it needed a bit more imagination to keep things fresh a few hours into the game. The only saving grace I can find to this is its fitting soundtrack and the charming chibi characters even if they have some very stiff movements and feel like they’re always stuck in T-pose.
Arc of Alchemist could’ve been something more but it didn’t. It could’ve been a fun and enjoyable hack n’ slash but it didn’t. It also could’ve been a game that had an interesting story along with its charming characters but it didn’t. There are so many things that have gone wrong with this particular title that even finding the motivation to reach its end credits became harder than fighting an extremely hard boss in an RPG. It frustrates me to hate on a game from one of my favourite developers that made the likes of Neptunia, Fairy Fencer and Death End re; Quest. If you can look past its shortcomings, this game is at least worth a shot but not for their original asking price.
This review is based on the PlayStation version of the game
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Arc of Alchemist
Newly Polished - In the Western release, players can now choose from 7 playable characters each specializing in unique weapons, attacks, and abilities!
Product Currency: USD
Product Price: 39.99