Shocking as it may be to imagine, this is a post that is not based around a short comment related to a link, a video, or a picture.

This post may even classify as content. That’s right. Content.

First, over on the right you should see a box showing authors. That box is there to show who has written what on the site, or at least the 5 most recent posts by each author.

Why would I need that?

Well, Amanda’s site, as most of my readers are no doubt aware, is based around art, and art only.

Rather than start a second blog of her own, she will (supposedly) be putting up non-artsy stuff over here.

So, please make her feel welcome when she starts posting.

(Of course, she’s used to her readership, which apparently averages over 60 hits a day, whereas I, apparently, average 14ish. Those are both overall averages, allowing for the really big days to pull the average up in my case, or the unusually low days to pull hers down. If we were to compare numbers, I’ve had one day with over 40 hits once in the last 30 days (45 hits). Amanda’s had one day with less than 40 hits in the last 30 days (39 hits). Not that I’m bitter.)

Anyways, she’ll likely start posting sometime soon.

The main content of this post is actually a bit of a review. I say “a bit of a review,” as this is likely to just be rambling on good and bad aspects of a game, as opposed to a serious in-depth and organized look at it.

I recently finished Arcanum: Of Steamworks and Magick Obscura for the second time (I first played it in the fall of 2003).

I will freely admit to having used a walkthrough for many portions of the game – I often do that when I revisit a big RPG, just to see what I missed – and I’m glad that I did. using the walkthrough resulted in an estimated 60-70 hours of game time, and that figure is probably low. Now, logically, that number may be higher than it would have been without the walkthrough, simply because I was doing EVERYTHING in the game, but, at the same time, I wasn’t hunting in the dark for where to go and what to do.

So, impressions. Obviously I liked the game enough to play it a second time. Equally obvious is the fact that this is a very, very big game.

What’s interesting about the game, perhaps its most interesting aspect, is its setting. The game’s setting can probably be best summarized as steampunk + high fantasy. This means that you’ve got steam-powered technology, guns, trains, tesla coils, and robots alongside elves, dwarves, the undead, and magic. As an original IP, the game uses its own systems for leveling and stats, and they work nicely in the setting.

I won’t go into the plot, other than to say that you’ve seen much of it before (on the other hand, I can only think of one other rpg that I’ve ever played that lets you defeat the end-boss by nothing more than conversation).

The graphics are definitely dated, the interface is clunky, and the combat is… less than stellar, but I would still say the game deserves a place as a classic crpg.

Unfortunately, the game is buggy in a few things, so things sometimes come across as a bit odd.

Some examples:

  • One of the Master skill quests requires you to run your character naked up and down the major thoroughfare of the largest city in the game, Tarant. For this, you receive the title “Pervert of Tarant.” I have no problem with that aspect of it. What I do find odd is the fact that my character had maxed out the ‘Beauty’ stat before doing this quest, and everyone (male or female) was telling my (female) character to put some clothes on. I think that there should have been wolf whistles and come-on lines, since, the moment my character had her clothes on again, she was receiving compliments on her beauty and how wonderful it was to see her (Also note, this is an older game, so when a character is naked, that character is essentially wearing a one-piece bathing suit).
  • There were a few times in the game when I managed to begin quests without encountering the characters who are supposed to activate these quests. Instead, my character would have a quest-related item in her inventory, walk up to a person never previously mentioned, and begin a dialogue with that person around that item, or at the very least have it mentioned in my quest log (I stole a newspaper at one point in the game that activated a quest I wasn’t supposed to get for another 10+ hours of playtime).
  • The first area of the game is really freaking hard. I remember this from the first time I played the game. I died so many times before I got out of that first area. And this is playing a warrior type (the game has no character classes, so you can make whatever kind of character you want). Or maybe I just suck.
  • Some questing areas (with boss-monster types at the end of them) don’t seem to be connected to any particular quests, which is odd.
  • Certain bonuses (supposedly) given by items or blessings didn’t show up. Whether this was a bug I’m not sure.

Despite these setbacks, I would say that the game is probably as good as the first Baldur’s Gate (high praise from this Infinity Engine fan).

There are definitely several things, aside from the setting, that make me recommend the game.

  • A high or low intelligence or beauty does affect how people react to you (there are quests you literally cannot get if you are too stupid). Intelligence also affects how you speak, while Beauty affects people’s reactions. While this is not the first game to incorporate these things, it is one of the few (older) games I’ve played that actually made effective use of these things (in Baldur’s Gate, for example, you could have a garbage Charisma or intelligence with minimal effect on quests or dialogue).
  • The lack of a character class means that you can, more or less, be anything. Gunfighter, spy, thief, generic warrior, grand wizard, scientist, the list goes on… Also, if you get very magical, or very technological, you become immune to the effects of the other (for better or worse). The level limit at 50 does result in a requirement for advanced planning, but overall you can be very powerful if you plan your character out at all.
  • You can get into discussions with dwarves and elves (among others) on philosophy (in game philosophy, but still).
  • You get a pet dog (who rocks in a fight), if you want him.
  • While huge, the game is always there, it’s sandbox-ish, but not in the ridiculous Oblivion way (ie. you can ignore the main plot, but you’re a lot more likely to come across the places that are necessary for the main plot, as opposed to really going out of your way).
  • The final villain has an interesting motive, none of this “I was born to rule/I’m evil so I’m doing evil things” crap. There’s actually philosophy here again. Did I mention you can talk him down?
  • Evil smurfs. Almost literally.

So, yeah, I heartily recommend Arcanum, and am saddened that Troika closed, as a sequel would be amazing. Not as amazing as Torment 2: He’s Got a Name Now, but cool nonetheless.

(One more bit of bitterness before I end this post. All but one person seem not to have noticed/care that I took down the Volara stuff.)

Posted by: J


~ by truth9 on February 7, 2008.

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