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Arkadian Warriors

Score: 80%
ESRB: Everyone
Publisher: Sierra
Developer: Wanako Games
Media: Download/1
Players: 1 - 2; 2 (Online)
Genre: Action/ RPG

Graphics & Sound:

While there's a certain attraction to the Arkadian Warrior's gameplay, the visuals aren't likely to impress. The game is technically clean and looks great, especially for a downloadable title. However, there's something oddly unsettling about the game's visual style, which sort of looks like it is going for a super-deformed style, yet without the overacted "cuteness." Characters are short and stubby with big heads, which sort of makes them look like bobble heads. This isn't a bad thing, though it isn't a great thing either.

As expected, there isn't a whole lot of variety in each of the game's levels. All use the same dank, dark color scheme and are populated by the same group of monsters. Though this can be overlooked, it doesn't do much to help the gameplay since most of the quests suffer from the same fate - they're a little too alike and lacking in variety.

Sound is okay and works for what it has to do. Its nothing you'll find yourself humming after you stop playing, though while you are playing you'll like what it brings to the experience. While the lack of voicework means you'll have to read through the quest outlines and bits of plot, there isn't much there to begin with so it isn't an issue.


Gameplay:

After three years, I'm surprised that Arkadian Warriors is the first hack n' slash dungeon crawler to show up on the service. Sure, there's Gauntlet, but Arkadian Warriors trends more towards the RPG side of the genre.

Arkadian Warriors takes place in a world threatened by an evil force that is making things bad for the general populace. As one of three warriors, each with a totemic alter-ego, it is your job to defeat the evil and restore peace. While this sounds very noble and like a grand adventure, it really just boils down to you, and a friend if you play co-op, going through a dungeon and running a series of fetch quests for people in the town. One guy needs scorpion tails, another one needs an item that was stolen from him... here's even a little girl who, morbidly enough, wants you to collect her dead mother's bones. Herein lies one of Arkadian Warriors two great flaws, it is incredibly repetitive.

Every quest begins with you learning about some calamity that has befallen someone in town. After that, they are somehow able to produce a portal that takes you to a dungeon where you battle through similar-looking layouts until you've collected whatever you were sent for. Then it is back to town for your reward. Lather, rinse, and repeat.

Granted, the same can be said about any hack n' slash game, but while most seem to find some way to mix things up and keep them interesting, Arkadian Warriors keeps things very vanilla. I assume this is meant to keep the game friendly to casual gamers (something the difficulty doesn't support however), but even that sect of gamers needs something different in order to keep it interesting.


Difficulty:

Arkadian Warrior's other big problem is the difficulty level. The game starts out great; there's an excellent, if a bit wordy, tutorial that goes through everything you would ever want to know about the game. Difficulty ramps up evenly through the first few levels only to suddenly spike and become really hard.

One of the gameplay "catches" is that you can replay any mission to earn extra gold and experience; however, rather than being optional, replaying missions is mandatory if you want to get past one of the many "difficulty walls" the game puts up in front of you. Considering that the missions aren't that original to begin with, there isn't much reason to want to play through them more than once other than finding the not-so-secret "secret rooms" - all of which you'll probably discover your first time through. Eventually it feels like little more than a means to artificially add replay value.


Game Mechanics:

There are three basic class types: soldier, archer and mage. Each type has its own special abilities that are unlocked as you travel (and re-travel) through the game's dungeons. Though each has its intended use, some aren't as useful as others. For example, the warrior's "tackle" ability does a decent amount of damage, but it is nearly impossible to line-up correctly. There's also a healing spell that leaves you defenseless for a short period of time, making it next to useless.

Each also has its own class-specific weapons, which you can mix and match to better your survival chances in each dungeon. In addition to a group of standard items, you will also find magical items that, in addition to doing damage, will also grant a side effect like extra damage or health. New weapons are always popping up in the shop, though the really good ones can get pricey, which means another trip to the dungeon.

Although the previously mentioned flaws are downers, they aren't a crushing blow. Overall, Arkadian Warriors is still a well-crafted game and pretty fun - but only for short periods of time. If you're looking for a cheap, old fashioned Diablo-style dungeon hack, Arkadian Warriors isn't perfect, but it might fit the bill.


-Starscream, GameVortex Communications
AKA Ricky Tucker

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