By Steve Baltimore / March 5th, 2020
|Title||Arc of Alchemist|
|Publisher||Idea Factory International|
|Release Date||January 30th, 2020|
I hadn’t heard great things when I decided to take Arc of Alchemist for review. Japanese reviewers had panned the game for its performance, repetitive gameplay and only being able to play as one character the entire game. This updated version of the game adds a bit more content and gives you a choice of which character to control during this adventure. I came into this with an open mind hoping the improvements would help. Let’s see if they did.
There are only scattered bits of humanity left in this barren world. The desert sprawls on endlessly with most of the natural resources being depleted. The people here have developed alchemy as a means of survival. However, even with this new technology, resources are scarce. Wars are fought for the remaining supply, and soon humanity is on the verge of extinction. There is an old legend of a power that could save humanity sleeping in the Desert of Beginnings. Exploration of this area is difficult, since it is covered with powerful Machine Dolls that force teams to flee the area often. One team lead by Quinn Bravesford is determined to find this legend if it exists and save humanity once and for all.
The story here is a mixed bag. I think most of the character work feels a bit stiff. They try to fix this by giving you some lighthearted cut scenes when you return to base. This does offset this some, but I felt like the main story just needed a bit more fleshing out. That said I really did enjoy the characters and some of their interactions together. Watching Axel fawn over Quinn while Micah was dropping hints she liked him was pretty entertaining. Sandra is a pure bundle of cuteness in almost every scene she is in, and I really enjoyed Erin’s scenes as well.
Graphically Arc of Alchemist looks decent. The world itself is kinda of bland since it is mostly desert and ruins. The character models looks nice and there are a decent amount of costume recolors with slight modifications you can unlock. The enemy models looks great with plenty of detail, but there’s not a ton of them in the game. You will see a lot of recolors of previous monsters in areas. The Machine Doll bosses are all pretty nice looking and they do pack quite a punch to go with that killer design.
The biggest issue in this department is you’re in huge open areas with monsters spawning all over the place. The game lags while this is happening, and during congested areas while combat is taking place the framerate takes a huge hit in most parts of the game. In the first two areas you explore the game runs at a pretty solid pace, but after you hit that third area the performance takes a huge hit on the PlayStation 4.
Arc of Alchemist’s soundtrack is actually pretty good. The opening and closing vocal tracks are both great. In-game music varies from upbeat happy music for those less serious character interactions to full on symphonic battle themes. Each track is well placed, and this does help the lackluster main story seem a little bit better. The voice acting here is all Japanese and these voices fit the characters well. Their tone and demeanor really help you get to know these characters a bit better, and this is probably the best part of the game.
The gameplay in Arc of Alchemist is that of your basic hack ‘n slash. Each weapon will have abilities and attacks. Some will have a buff and attack or maybe just two attacks. Quinn can be equipped with any weapon in the game best I can tell, so you can set up with whichever fits your play style the best. If you choose to use one of the other party members they will only be able to use one weapon type. This is why being able to play as anyone is nice, but it serves little purpose since Quinn cause use any weapon they can.
Each character has a special ability that can be unleashed when the blue bar under their health is full. They have various effects depending on the character. Some will be attacks that deal massive damage while others may provide huge stat boosts for a limited time. You will also find elemental orbs as the story progresses. These are mostly used for solving puzzles in the field by freezing water or creating blocks to reach higher areas, but using two of them together activates some special effects. One example of this is creating a statue that will regen your party if you stand near it. These do have limited uses till you go back and rest at camp or base to restock them, so use them wisely.
As you defeat enemies in the field they will drop a variety of materials. Players can use these to upgrade their base, upgrade character stats, gain new passive abilities and much more. There is an in-game screen that will show where each material is dropped if you have obtained it before. You will also find treasure spots on each map with goodies that will respawn when you return to that map again. Upgrading your base is very important since it will unlock new weapons in the shop and expand on almost every part of developing your party. The game has a good tutorial on this, so most folks will be able to dive right in with no problems.
Arc of Alchemist has all the ingredients of a good game, but something went very wrong in the cooking process. The characters are all pretty well written and I think they are the most interesting part of this title. The main story is rushed a bit in places and very predictable. The combat itself isn’t bad, but it’s pretty basic overall and gets stale quickly. The graphics look decent and the open areas fit the the story well, but the performance takes a huge hit in later areas. The game is pretty short, most folks will probably wrap this one up in around 10 hours, and you can add some time to that if you decide to go new game+ or get the true ending. The flaws make this one pretty hard to justify at its $39.99 price tag, but if you’re looking for a decent adventure with some funny and interesting characters, this would be one to consider during a decent sale.
Game provided by the publisher for review.
Action RPGArc of AlchemistIdea Factory Internatiaonal