Ten years after the last entry in the series, Arcania: Gothic 4 focuses on the Island of Feshyr in the Southern Seas where a war has be broiling for some time. The self-proclaimed king slaughtered your town and fiancée while you were away, and now you seek revenge. To go up against the might of the King and his army, you must first travel the island looking for lost relics.
The story is as bland as they come for a standard RPG adventure, and is definitely not one of the high points of the game. You can expect the normal twists and turns from the story as you delve deeper, but it does a passable job moving you from one area to the next. The voice acting, on the other hand, is all over the map. It’s as if the developer could not decide whether to make a serious game or a game with tongue-in-cheek references to genre stereotypes. The main character is voiced extremely well, but tends to be overly serious, which wouldn’t be an issue if every other character you run in to didn’t sound like a cartoon version of a witch or the village idiot.
Where the game does excel is in stripping down the action RPG genre to its bare bones. The genre has become obsessed with morality systems and limited inventory space, and I was shocked I didn’t need to concern myself with either while playing Arcania. You are encouraged to grab everything that isn’t nailed down, no matter if it’s in a friendly person’s house or on the corpse of an orc. Within the first hour of playing, my bag was already brimming with loot and crafting supplies.
The controls seemed intuitive on the 360 controller, and although it would have been nice to be able to map a little more to the controller for item usage, it still provides almost everything you need to slash, shoot arrows and fireballs at your enemy. Enemies are easy to dodge, and it is only when they gang up on you that you might find yourself in trouble.
Similar to World of Warcraft, quests and quest-givers are seen on the mini-map, letting you know where people who need help are or where you need to get items. You can even complete a quest even before talking to that person. As was my habit, I would clear out an area before I ever went into town. What? You need a peg leg from that goblin cave? Like this one I got before I came to town? Quest complete!
Arcania is a broad, traditional action RPG that doesn’t show you anything you haven’t seen before. Still, though, it’s an awesome time-sink if you like looting, crafting, leveling and combat.
Pros: Excellent combat system and controls, back-to-basics WRPG
Cons: Bland story and graphics, too easy