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Aarklash: Legacy

Score: 83%
ESRB: Not Yet Rated
Publisher: Cyanide Studio
Developer: Cyanide Studio
Media: Download/1
Players: 1
Genre: Strategy/ RPG

Graphics & Sound:

I like Aarklash: Legacy more for its character designs than its actual visual presentation. Donít get me wrong Ė the game is a stunner and absolutely popping with all sorts of neat details. Yet, for me, the absolute coolest part is the actual character and enemy designs. Aarklash: Legacy manages to carve out its own style of fantasy. Some of the more "traditional" tropes are around, though everything has its own unique, appealing take.

Aarklash: Legacy looks better than it sounds. In-game dialogue is decent, though I wasnít completely sold on the voice performances. I canít remember any wince-worthy moments, but something about the voicework seemed "off" to me. This probably has just as much to do with the dialogue itself as it does the actual performances, though thankfully story isnít a major component and other sounds compensate.


Gameplay:

I had little-to-no knowledge of the Confrontation universe when I started Aarklash: Legacy and canít say I know much about it after playing the game. While you can find backstory, you have to know where to look for it. Instead, Aarklash: Legacy delivers a weak story primarily designed to push your party through a string of battles.

The main conflict involves a war that has become far too expensive, requiring help from the Goldmongerís Guild for loans to keep things going. When these debts arenít paid off, mercenaries called Wheel Swords are called into action to collect on debts. Sometimes this involves approaching the indebted directly, though other times, it might just mean raiding their land for valuables, such as relics.

Most of the story plays out via in-game cut scenes and grows to be quite complex the longer you play. It is enjoyable and kept me on the hook for another battle, though Iíd be hard-pressed to recount specific plot points. I would have enjoyed more of a story push. Though not exactly revolutionary, the concept is interesting and, as far as my knowledge is concerned, original.

Ultimately narrative shortcomings are not a major deal considering Aarklash: Legacy is more about its mechanics than anything else. Gameplay is highly reminiscent of tactical RPGs such as Icewind Dale and Baldurís Gate. Battles are fought on an isometric field with you in control of a party of four Wheel Swords.

You begin with a set of four as a starter group, with more joining your cadre as you progress. Each has their own specific skill set, opening new tactics and battle strategies. Unfortunately, adopting new characters into your active party means you will have a weak link since they donít join at the same level as veteran party members. Even though I wanted to check out some of the later characters, I rarely did.


Difficulty:

With the exception of Easy, Aarklash: Legacy is a beast of a game, at least if you donít take the time to think through situations. Though combat takes place in real time, you are encouraged to use the "pause" function Ė which you can use at any time. Clicking through commands without pausing adds a certain rush to combat, and can work during earlier encounters. At the same time, you do so at your own risk as this is almost always a sure-fire route to a reload. Aarklash: Legacy rewards players for taking things slow.

That isnít to say Aarklash: Legacy doesnít hit below the belt. A few situations are a bit unfair. I especially didnít like when reinforcements would show up in the middle of battles. Of course, sound strategy can help, though not always since you donít always know what to expect in the next wave.

In retrospect, maybe "unfair" isnít the best choice of words. Constantly switching strategies is core to the experience, though Aarklash: Legacy can be a bit unrelenting with successive waves. It can wear you down. Iím sure a few battles were lost due to my just wanting to get it done as quickly as possible.


Game Mechanics:

Aarklash: Legacy is primarily driven by combat. The system is well put together and offers lots of tactical depth. However, some of the depth is buried under a clunky interface. It is nothing you wonít eventually figure out, though systems like queuing up attacks never worked the way I expected and I dropped a couple of early fights because of it.

When the early U.I. stumbles are out of the way, Aarklash: Legacy offers a litany of options to use during battle. Everything from buffs to taunts are available and youíll have to use them all to make it through most battles. Character abilities are particularly interesting. Everyone has their own unique skills that play into how the character meshes with your party and strategy. For example, one of your tank characters has a set of powerful attacks, but in order to use them, she must sacrifice health. Meanwhile, your healer must syphon health from other party members in order to use her healing abilities.

One potential knock against the skills system is there isnít much room for "personalization." Skill trees are very small and limited to a handful of upgrades, so everyoneís place in battle is set in stone from the start. It is disappointing at first, but abilities are so interesting and work in such unique ways, it doesnít matter. Most of the fun comes from finding ways to mesh your party memberís abilities rather than focusing on individual stats.

Battles usually yield some sort of loot, though it is limited to necklaces, rings, and other stat-boosting baubles. It is not as cool as uncovering new weapons or armor, but its something. Looted trinkets are generally powerful in their own right and can offer an slight edge when equipped on the right character.

Aarklash: Legacy is, initially, a hard game to get into. Itís hard and the U.I. is a bit cumbersome. The problems donít subside with time and patience, but the fun combat and tactical choices can dull the problems. Aarklash: Legacy wonít make you a strategy fan if you arenít one already, but fans of the genre will have fun.


-Starscream, GameVortex Communications
AKA Ricky Tucker

Minimum System Requirements:



Celeron E1500 Dual-Core 2.2GHz/ Athlon 64 X2 Dual Core 4800+; GeForce 8600 GT/Radeon HD 3800 series; 2 GB RAM; DirectX 9; 4GB HDD Space
 

Test System:



Windows Vista; 2 GHz Dual-Core processor; 2 Gig RAM; DVD drive; 120 GB HDD; GeForce Go7600

Sony PlayStation Vita Dragon Fantasy Book II iPad The Island: Castaway 2 HD

 
Game Vortex :: PSIllustrated