PS2 PC GameCube Contact Us DVD Search
Featured XBox GBA News Home Advertise
PC Reviews: Arcanum of Steamworks & Magick Obscura


Arcanum of Steamworks & Magick Obscura

"Excuse me Maam, I think your items belong to ME!"

Arcanum provides a detailed inventory system

Don't mess with Lesser Spiders...

The Final Say!

Arcanum of Steamworks & Magick Obscura - reviewed by Andrew B
Review Date: 25 February 2002
Review Score: 8.5/10 
Distributor: Vivendi Universal

An Industrial Revolution in a World of Magick

Imagine a place of wonder, where magick and technology coexist in an uneasy balance, and an adventurer might just as easily wield a flintlock pistol as a flaming sword. A place where great industrial cities house castle keeps and factories, home to Dwarves, Humans, Orcs and Elves alike. A place of ancient runes and steamworks, of magick and machines, of sorcery and science. Welcome to the land of Arcanum.

Arcanum is a world where Dungeons & Dragons and J.R.R. Tolkein's Lord of the Rings meets 18th Century Industrial Europe. This game is also a cross between the acclaimed Baldurs Gate series and Fallout. The controls, graphics and gameplay is very similar to the Fallout series. The game itself is a classic Role Playing Game where you can either select a pre-created character or design your own. There are dozens of attritubes from Poison Resistance to Character Speed. Each character has access to 16 primary skills, 80 spells and over 56 technological disciplines. Unlike Baldurs Gate, the game is a classless system which lets you exploit your character to your own personal agenda.

Once you've created your character, the game starts with an impressive CGI introduction where you are flying aboard a Zeppelin. Unfortunately, the forces of evil are out today and two Orc planes help dispatch the Zeppelin. Fortunately for you, you are the sole survivor and crawl out of the wreckage. You desperately search for survivors among the dead, stumbling upon an old Gnome gentlemen. With his dying words, he gives you an ancient Ring that you must to deliver to a boy with a dire warning that the agents of evil shall be after you. And thus begins your adventure...

The gameplay of Arcanum is a little daunting at the start because of the complexity of the game. However, once you've sat down and played Arcanum for a while, you will soon discover what everything does and doesn't. The world of Arcanum is huge and the game boasts that it will take you over 30 hours to complete the game. And as all true role-playing games, every choice you make has different outcomes, so you could play this game quite a few times. Each character starts with neutral alignment which gives you three different possibilities when playing, Neutral, Good or Evil. 

Your character has 8 basic statistics such as strength and charisma, the higher the strength, the more powerful you are with melee weapons or the higher the charisma, the better your persuasion skills become.

Movement is done via a point and click interface but you are also given the option of running. The creative team of Arcanum have gone to a considerable lot of effort to making this a true role-playing game, you can force attacks (such as doors and inanimate objects), drag corpses or the most impressive feature of the game is the "Fate" window. This option lets you configure the gameplay to your liking. While playing the game, you will meet characters who will join and become part of your party. These characters have their own scripts and you can give them limited commands by talking to them. This is good because the game does not get bogged down with configuring each character. The combat system is a point and click interface and your followers automatically attack, once you attack. Spells, inventory and equipment is all done via the point and click system. You have a choice of real time combat or turn based strategy.

The graphics of Arcanum may seem a little dated but as you journey in the game, some of the areas you come across are truly works of art. The special effects are also a treat such as spells and technological weapons such as flamethrowers. The game will also cycle between day and night which is perfect for some characters such as the Thief. The only drawback of the graphics is the scrolling which sometimes gets lagged. The music helps set a 18th Century mood to the game with its mysterious yet spooky soundtrack. While the voice acting of all characters are top class as are the sound effects.

With over 300 different characters, 30 hours of gameplay, a huge gaming world to explore and dozens of role-playing options, Arcanum will easily become an RPG favourite. It has taken the world of Dungeons and Dragons and successfully placed it in an imaginary world very similar to industrial Europe. Highly recommended to those who are seeking a true Role Playing experience or for those wanting a game with depth and many hours of gaming goodness. Recommended!

- Andrew B

Copyright 2002 www.impulsegamer.com