Lord of Arcana
Lord of Arcana is an old-school Japanese
RPG adventure that sees a powerful hero stripped of everything...
memory, fighting prowess, weapons and magic... With no memories of their
previous life, the hero find themselves in the village of Porto Carillo
where you must fight your way back to the top in order to become one
with the power called Arcana and more particularly, the Lord of Arcana.
The heart behind the game requires the player to go from a humble
commoner with slight delusions of grandeur to powerful hero in order to
vanquish the realm from all sorts of nasty evils. Your goals are simple,
embark on a variety of quests for NPC's and slaughter your way to the
top. It's classic RPG lore.
Before starting the game, Lord of Arcana has an in-depth character
creation tool that allows you to fine tune your gaming avatar from
appearance to all sorts of non-essential facets. Although it does give
you some good character creation options for looks, it is a little
clunky on the PSP format but nonetheless, it does allow you to give your
character that personal touch.
With some pre-rendered cutscenes along the
way, the game reminds me of Monster Hunters as you speak to the Slayer's
Guild in order to choose a mission. As opposed to a free roaming RPG,
you basically appear in the area where you quest takes place, whether
it's a dark and musty dungeon or the mysterious Neumellow woods, the
variety of locales is actually quite good that does help keeps things
fresh and unique.
To throw a spanner in the works, there is a
timer involved in your quests that had me cursing profanities at my PSP
on more than one occasion. For example, I almost completed a quest and
then BANG... the timer ran out and all my work was for naught. In one
sense, I can understand the need for a timer but for me, this old school
method is more of a cattle prod to the player which I'm not a huge fan
of. Apart from exploring the limited segments of this world, combat is
the true heart of Lord of Arcana.
Combat is a little bit of a mixed bag due to the limited nature of
options available to the player. The combat in Lord of Arcana can be
quite diverse at times but you need to give the game plenty of gaming
hours in order for this happen. Essentially it's a button masher. At the
start, it is a little repetitive as are some of the monsters you fight
like Goblins and the undead, however as you progress, these monsters do
become more challenging, especially the boss fights that can be quite
tricky. The best part of combat are the finishing moves that allows you
to hack 'n slash your foes with a final majestic blow... quite gory and
bloody. Each of the monsters you challenge fight systematically and you
will soon discover a pattern which is vital when fighting bosses. At
times, the fights with the bosses remind of God of War, due to the
implementation of the similar quick-time events. It's kind of cool.
There are five weapons available in Lord of Arcana, each with their pros
and cons. For me, the one-handed sword was my weapon of choice, due to
its speed and the ability for my character to wield a shield. The pole
arm was fun as was the two handed sword but unfortunately they were a
little slow but the damage they could inflict was quite impressive.
Apart from melee weapons, there are some projectiles available,
depending on what you specialise in.
As you progress, your character slowly
becomes more powerful as you "level" up in different attacks and learn
new magic. The buttons have been mapped on the PSP controller well,
although I must admit that I'm getting rusty using my PSP due to the
lack of games being released on it and that smart phones are so much
more easier. Even so, the control of your character, navigation, menus
and combat works well. The only issue with the controls is the lock-on
system that requires you to look at the monster as opposed to an
automatic locking system. This gets frustrating when there are more than
one monsters around. All in all, the gameplay is a little average due to
Apart from a slightly average gaming
experience, Lord of Arcana supports a multiplayer mode. Unfortunately
it's only local multiplayer which allows up to 3-gamers to play. It's a
shame that there is no online support because it would have made the
gaming experience a lot more enjoyable and accessible to more players.
Unfortunately I could not test this feature with only one copy of the
Graphically, Lord of Arcana is a relatively good looking game that at
times, this look a little dated on the PSP compared to some other recent
releases of a similar genre. Needless to say, the characters are well
animated and there are some nice textures employed into the game. The
developers have made good use of the PSP architecture in terms of
lighting, special effects and some of the background environments are
very detailed in terms of population with items. The only drawback with
the graphics are the sometimes longer than long loading times that is a
little frustrating, especially if you want to jump straight into the
game. Music is the traditional RPG soundtrack that works well as do the
sound effects in the game and once again, headphones are a must for this
In the end, Lord of Arcana doesn't break out of the traditional RPG
formula and has quite a few parallels with Monster Hunter, although
Monster Hunter was far superior in terms of an overall gaming
experience. I'm not saying that Lord of Arcana is a bad game, it's just
gives you that same feeling that you've done it all before which is good
for people who enjoy this genre but not for those wanting something new.
Monsters are diverse, levelling your character is enjoyable but combat
does become a little repetitive and too "grindish". However, I did enjoy
those damn boss battles that does make you think but with the inclusion
of a timed quests... what a horrible experience. With games dwindling on
the PSP, there's not much to look out for but if you want an intuitive
yet "fun" RPG, you might want to rent before you buy this title.