Review: Arkadian Warriors
Hack. Slash. It’s all in the mind.
Review score systems really are a necessary evil. When putting together a site or a magazine one of the decisions you have to make is how to score a game. Out of a hundred? Out of ten? Out of five… ‘hey let’s not have scores!’. Yeah that’s up there with a band struggling for a name and saying ‘hey let’s call ourselves Band or Untitled’. Your mum’s untitled, fucker.
However, the controversy happens when you compare scores. I gave Halo a seven. I also gave Stranglehold the same score. Are they as good as each other? Mark gave Bioshock an eight. I much preferred Halo and Stranglehold over Bioshock. It’s so confusing. Now I gave Bioshock a six, which is what I’m giving Arkadian Warriors and this is where it gets really messy. Bioshock is a bad six (like a Slipknot-loving satanist might have tattooed on his head) whereas Arkadian Warriors is a good six (like a cricket ball hitting a fan in his St George flag painted mush).
So, Arkadian Warriors is one half of this week’s XBLA allocation. The last title in these dark pre-SWOS days. My expectations for this one weren’t too high. It’s obviously a Diablo clone and that is a series that always belonged on the PC and if that’s the best example of the genre then a cheap and cheerful variation on the 360 was never going to be an essential title. A quick roam around the trial version was enough to make me part with the 800 points I had earmarked for SWOS next week though, maybe because it’s a much more interesting title than all the shit they’ve been releasing on recent Wednesdays.
The game does have some pedigree in that it comes from Wanako who produced one of my favourite XBLA titles, Assault Heroes (a game that I urge you all to buy) and the idea of mindlessly levelling up is probably one that will appeal to all you achievement whores. Grinding is what we do after all.
It really is a mixed bag though. For an RPG the plot is laughably awful and contains some of the weakest side-stories ever. One mission sees you taking on a dungeon full of evil creatures in order to retrieve “a doll that was stolen by monsters” for a girl because “her mother gave it to her”. Oblivion it’s not.
Other RPG conventions are also skimmed over or completely ignored. Character creation? No options apart from picking your class (warrior, archer or magician). You can’t pick the race, species, sex or appearance. You can’t even rename them. Also the town you start in is tiny and only has one shop and a handful of NPCs who give you quests. You can explore it thoroughly in roughly sixty seconds.
Once you are given a quest a portal opens and you are teleported to a dungeon, it is always a dungeon, and forced to do battle with the inhabitants whilst killing a number of specific beasties or finding items in order to meet the quest requirements. This, of course, involves hacking or shooting repetitively until your thumb seizes up.
Is Arkadian Warriors the Diablo style hack and slash adventure we were all hoping for on the 360? The simple answer is no. It’s just too simplistic even for that gauntlet (geddit?) but what we are left with is a XBLA title that, while is a little shy of the mark of people were expecting, it does deliver something that the XBLA service has sorely been lacking and that’s a 3D dungeon crawler that’s really quite fun to play especially with a friend be it online or off.
When you first start playing you be annoyed with the lack of customisation options on your character or the fact that you have absolutely no say what so ever on your characters development other than what equipment they decide to wear but when it comes down to the actual quests this game shines though with some nice randomly generated dungeons, well realised enemies that are fun to fight and a learning curve that is just about right.
All in all I would recommend Arkadian Warriors to anyone who likes hack and slash style games since it’s only 800 M$P which translates to £6.80 but it’s not the best Dungeon Crawler out there but it’s a welcome addition never the less.
Secondary Score: 7/10
Like any good dungeon-crawler you’ll pick up gold, potions (in Diablo-style red and blue) and items before eventually completing the quest or meeting a boss character. These bosses can sometimes pose a bit of a challenge but for the most part just pressing Y to transform in your beastly alter-ego will give you the edge over them. That’s not to say the game is devoid of challenge (although the first half pretty much is). What the enemies lack in smarts they make up for in numbers and resilience, especially the ones that were initially bosses but become drones on later levels.
In keeping with the game’s Diet RPG Lite Zero flavouring even the collection of items to find and trade is pretty limited. You pick up two types of weapon and two types of armour. That is it. Not very inspiring. So where am I getting those six points from? Well this is the thing. The game, at least for a casual RPG player, is a lot of fun. It’s mindless but frantic and with the emphasis on combat. Wiping out a room full of beasties is enjoyable enough and finding items, gold and secret rooms so that you can trade at the shop for new equipment is as addictive as another RPG. Certainly addictive enough to keep me glued for hours on end.
Also, the small play area keeps the game quite focussed. If you don’t like the usual sprawling landscapes of these games, Arkadian Warriors could be a breath of fresh air. Even if it’s only like that because Wanako can’t be arsed making a proper game world. Having every quest take place in a dungeon is a bit of a blow as well.
Even without SWOS on the horizon, I probably wouldn’t be playing this game much in two weeks time but for a quick XBLA fix it does a good enough job although I’m not sure it can fully justify the 800 points price tag. 400 points would definitely feel fairer.
But nonetheless Arkadian Warriors is just about worthwhile. If it had some variation, more customisation options and a cohesive story this game could have been an essential eight but instead it’s a just above average six. Now if Microsoft could just see their way to porting Dungeon Siege to the 360, minus all the barrels, I’d be a happy boy indeed.