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Aarklash: Legacy: Tactical RPGs Make Comeback

Company: Cyanide Studio

Set for release this September, Aarklash: Legacy is a tactical RPG from developer Cyanide Studios set in the world of the Confrontation miniatures game. I was able to go hands on with a preview build of the game, and it should make a lot of tactical RPG fans happy.

Until playing Aarklash: Legacy, I wasnít even aware Confrontation even existed, so youíll have to forgive me if my lore is off. The preview build offers a decent backstory to the lore, which is actually somewhat original as far as fantasy universes go. In order to pay off an expensive war, a group of barons enter a contract with the Goldmongerís guild. As debts continue to rise, the guild begins sending mercenaries, called Wheel Swords, to collect.

The barons donít take kindly to the guildís actions, placing the Wheel Swords in direct combat with the baronís soldiers. The preview build opens with a group of four Wheel Swords Ė Nella, Wendaroo, Denzil, and Knokka Ė on one such mission to recover an item from an indebted baron. No strangers to armed opposition from these lords, the group soon discovers thereís something much bigger happening. Constantly under attack by powerful soldiers, the mercenaries make their way towards sanctuary to regroup and get some answers.

Aarklash: Legacy is a highly-tactical game in the vein of Baldurís Gate or, in some respects, Dragon Age: Origins on PC. Gameplay takes place on an isometric battlefield. Each member of your group (four of the eventual nine or so available in the final build) has their own particular set of skills, feeding into your battle strategy. For instance, Knokka is a short-range fighter who acts as your tank, while Nella is a fire-tossing mage.

Battles involve clicking on enemies to initiate attacks. As with Baldurís Gate, you can pause the game at anytime, allowing you to think through your tactics. Pausing also gives you time to study up on your enemies. Clicking on an enemyís portrait opens a window detailing their strengths and weaknesses. This will let you decide which attacks to use, which of your Wheel Swords is the best match-up, and how to effectively combine attacks in the attack queue. Although you can play through any battle in real-time without ever pausing, doing so adds a considerable challenge to an already challenging game and requires near-constant vigilance.

Battles unfold in some very unpredictable ways. It isnít uncommon for new solders to enter mid-battle, often times introducing brand new threats. I rarely stuck with one strategy throughout the length of a battle and found myself constantly pausing just to think about how to tackle the previous problem with dealing with some new mage who decided to wander into the fight.

Successful battles reward you with experience points and levels, unlocking new abilities. As you open up new parts of the skill tree, youíll gain access to new ways to customize how your warriors handle in battle. At any time, youíre limited to only four active skills, yet each of the abilities is incredibly powerful. Wheel Swords are highly specialized in their roles. Though at first this may seem like a limitation, it actually opens up a world of strategic decisions. Limits force you to really think about who to include in your party and let you experiment without feeling too overwhelmed by your choices.

Despite limitations, Aarklash: Legacy is not draconian in its design. Skill points can be redistributed whenever you want. If a particular strategy or build isnít working, you can play around with new builds. Equipping stat-boosting loot further enhances characters. I didnít uncover a lot of loot in my playthrough, so I wasnít able to delve too deeply into the system.

If youíre a tactical/ strategy fan and Aarklash: Legacy isnít already on your radar, add it immediately.

-Starscream, GameVortex Communications
AKA Ricky Tucker

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