Crimpressions: Lord of Arcana
Lord of Arcana, not many have heard of this game outside of Japan…well except for those who keep track of Japanese games but even still, it obscure to the regular. Have you? Based off of a popular Japanese arcade game by Square Enix, Lord of Vermillion, this is a Monster Hunter esque game where you are a Slayer looking for the Arcana. So what exactly is it all about? Read on…
First of all, you make a character for your game obviously. I made my guy look like some ol bearded man with medium hair ready to kick ass, something akin to James Bond/Pierce Brosnan at the start of Die Another Day 😄 You can choose between the Sword and Shield or a Great Sword. Oh, did I mention you can test out the starting weapons before you choose which to stick with for the time being? I guess I have now! Now that we’re done, let’s go and get some actual play time!
The game begins in an eerily looking cave with your character in some fancy armor at Lv45 (which is I guess quite high). You start by learning the ropes of the game, how to fight enemies in battle and the usual stuff. In the mission map screen, you can see your Health (HP) Stamina (PLS) and the things you can do at the bottom of the screen. They’re pretty self explanatory. Each icon corresponds to a face button on the PSP. Attack would be Square, Guard would be X and Map change is triangle. I’ve highlighted the control scheme later down.
Unlike Monster Hunter where you just start fighting the enemy when you approach in the map, you have to attack it ala FF13 and an arena appears with the enemy monster in it. Defeating gate guardians allow you to pass through the stage. They are marked with a Key sign on the top of their heads, roaming around the stage.
As you progress through the stage, more and more skills open up to you until you are finally able to use your Ultimate Spell which allows you to summon an enemy and attack a large radius of enemies. As expected, you get the best of them all! Bahamut using Megaflare! This drains from your mana gauge too. You can escape by going to the ends of the circle radius and staying until the “Escaping” gauge fills up.
As you reach the end of the cave, you see an Arcana Monster spot open, a red Eye of Sauron indicator on the map. As you approach it, you are asked that you cannot return to the map. Boss music plays and the monster approach the arena. Boss: Nizhegg! Nidhogg in English 😉
After you do a certain amount of damage to the monster, you get to trigger a Cinematic Scene by pressing O. Doing this will be somewhat akin to the clash in DW. Press the O button as much as you can to turn the tide to your direction. The boss turn into a somewhat of a rage mode here and attack more ferociously than before. As you weaken the boss, and bring it to near death, another Cinematic Scene will show, this time being a QTE sequence which you need to press to defeat the boss for good.
Once you defeat a boss, a cutscene plays which introduces you to the in-game world. You then return to a town very Monster Hunter-ish. The obvious shocker kicks in here. All that you did just now was a trial. You start again at Lv.1! Expected wasn’t it?
Now that you’re done with the training part, you get to roam around the city for a good portion. Around the town contains the usual things you’d see in an overworld hub: Item store for you healing needs, Blacksmith to arm you with the required weapon and armors and a Bank to store whatever you do need on hand. There’s also an alchemy store for you to combine materials into other useful items. Also around town is a guild like Monster Hunter. As you would expect, you take missions here but we’ll get to that later. Plenty of NPCs roam around the town giving you tips here and there about the game. Oh there’s a FF styled Save point, and it’s a crystal too. Does this game remind you of FF12 to an extent? It does to me…
After frolicking around town, I decided to take the first quest available at the guild. You are then teleported to a foresty area where your task is to defeat 3 Goblin Fighters. Unlike the previous mission, you now have a choice to retire from the Quest by walking back to town. You can pick up items around the map similar to MH, but in this case there is a green glowing light showing where and how much items you can take from that spot. There’s also a time limit to the quest as you would expect.
Back to the map screen, you will notice that your character has much less HP than before, no magic and no armor. So this time, when in battle, you will face more difficulty than the first trial mission. Good balance of dodging and slashing will get you around for now. Don’t forget the Finishing Blow! Unlike the earlier trial mission, when you defeat enemies this time, they drop items, so one has to be sure to pick them up before the 15 second limit is up and you return to the mission map. Sometimes, the enemy will drop a treasure box for you to pick up an item with. As you slay the 3rd Goblin Fighter, a mission complete sign appears..self explanatory!
You are treated to a Quest result screen, showing how well you did. Guild points and money is given as victory spoils. I got a Rank B, so I guess I’m pretty ok for now =)
Graphics wise, the game looks pretty decent, there’s lots of blood involved. The quality is pretty good for a 2010 PSP game. What you see in the trailers and the above screenshots are around the level you’ll see in the game. I don’t know about you but its pretty ok for me. Weapon designs are quite good too, seems very fantasy like as you expect from Square Enix. I can’t really comment on the music as I only heard a few. The cave music is very ambient, its pretty good. Battle theme and boss music is not bad in the caves but it can change depending on the bosses. Overworld music definitely sounds very heroic though, I sorta liked it!
The controls can be seen below by clicking on the two images below:
Well that’s it for my “Crimpression” of the game, there’s actually quite a lot to do in the game but if I go through all of them the preview would be too long. I’m actually really excited for this game it being a somewhat new IP for Square Enix on the PSP. At first I used to think that this was just another MH clone by S-E but after playing through, its just similar by passing and more of a new experience by them.
Lord of Arcana releases on the Playstation Portable on November 14th 2010 in Japan and TBA for everywhere else. The game is developed by Access Games (known for Deadly Premonition) and published by Square Enix.