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Arc Of Alchemist

Posted by GG Goblin On February - 18 - 2020

An action JRPG with a hint of base building.

 
Compile Heart are prolific when it comes to releasing JRPGs, dropping one game after another in quick succession. While this is no bad thing for JRPG fans, it does mean that sometimes the quality of the game comes up a little bit wanting. Their latest game, the post-apocalyptic desert-based Arc of Alchemist on PS4 and Switch, is one of those games that feels like it could have done with some more time in the development oven.

 


 
The story for this action-RPG follows the adventures of Quinn Bravesford and her team as they try to find the Great Power, the only thing that can bring humanity back from the brink in this Mad Max styled world. Now this in itself could be the opening to many a JRPG and doesn’t necessarily mean its bad. It is an interesting world, with rival nations also hunting for this mythical Great Power, and murderous machines wandering the desert alongside the regular monsters. In Quinn’s favour, she is in possession of a legendary device known as the Lunagear that will be needed to find the Great Power in the first place, while also proving a handy tool for the journey ahead.

 
However, there is very much a feeling of walking into a conversation part way through. The narrative is not introduced in a very friendly way, and the same can be said for the characters. The usual building of the relationships to develop empathy with the characters at the beginning is missing, making it hard to really care about them. Through the course of the game, there is a lot more revealed about the characters and their motivations, but it just doesn’t feel like it is well done and still not enough to make me care. The characters themselves tend to follow the usual JRPG tropes, again failing to make them stand out or embed in the players memory.

 
Much of the game will be spent exploring the various desert-set areas. The lack of variety in the setting is another problem with the game, in that the setting is very bland. It doesn’t help that the game visually looks like a PS2 game, with muddy textures and an overall simplicity. Viewing the game on the small Switch screen is not so bad, but stretching the visuals onto a large screen TV when playing docked really does it no favours. There are also some heavy frame rate issues that will likely cause some frustration when the action even gets remotely heavy. The frame rate is slightly better in docked mode, but still far from perfect.

 


 
The gameplay follows a fairly straight forward loop with the player making their way through an area, exploring and moving from one story point to another. The combat is quite simple to get to grips with, mostly made up of mashing two buttons to launch combos. There are both melee and long range attacks, and the player can mix things up by messing around with different weapons. The action nature of the combat ensures that things move quite quickly, and there is a certain amount of strategy to how the player sets up their team to give them different roles on the battlefield. For the most part, the combat is not complicated and easy to deal with, although the boss battles do have a tendency to spike in difficulty and may need a little grinding before approaching.

 
Quinn’s Lunagear mixes things up as it can use different elemental orbs that are gained through the game for different effects. Elements can be used singularly for simple effects, while combining two can have far more interesting results, such as placing a healing statue. The Lunagear can also be used outside of combat for some of the games simple puzzles, but these never prove to be anything more than a distraction.

 
The other side of Arc of Alchemist comes from the base building. The player will return to their base from time to time, and spend resources on expanding the base. The reward from this will bring bonuses and improvements to the team, and there is even a certain amount of strategy to the placement as further bonuses can be gained through the proximity of certain buildings. As with much of this game, the base building side, along with the party management and housekeeping that can be done there, lacks the depth that can be found in other games. With that said, it does break up the core gameplay loop of wandering deserts and fighting.

 


 
Arc of Alchemist is a game that feels half-baked. The story, the core gameplay, the base building, all feel like they could have been done better, and have been in other games. This would have resulted in a mediocre game at best, but the performance issues really make it difficult to recommend to anyone. There may be some entertainment for desert-loving action RPG fans, but most gamers won’t be missing out by passing on Arc of Alchemist.

 

 ★★★★☆☆☆☆☆☆ 



 

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