FOR SCIENCE (or sorcery) : Arcanum: Of Steamworks And Magick Obscura
Released in 2001 by Troika games, the company behind the amazing Vampire: The Masquerade – Bloodlines and containing some of the people who created the legendary Fallout series, Arcanum is a PC RPG with a unique and fascinating setting.
Arcanum was one of the first PC RPGs I ever played. I remember picking it up in Poundland (a store in the UK where every item costs… Well, take a guess) when I was a kid, totally unaware of how this game would change my life. I’d never played anything this deep and intricate before, never had so much control over what I could be. And I’d Arcanum is built on a base of high fantasy,, adds a healthy dollop of steampunk and mixes in a dash of Victoriana to taste. The whole thing feels fresh, innovative and unique, and even now don’t think there’s a setting even remotely like it.
The storyline is just plain fantastic. I don’t want to go into too much detail a difference risk spoilers, but it begins with Arcanum’s first commercial air vehicle (and the subsequent crash) and flies through a journey that involves prophecy, lost Gods, ancient gnomeish conspiracy and plenty of delicious deception. The side quests are similarly interesting and have you running the gamut from solving a series of Jack The Ripper style murders to robbing (or saving) a bank, to chairing a town meeting over the details of a newly commissioned statue.
The characters are similarly fascinating and entertaining, ranging from a young priest with a mysterious past to a dwarf trying to find his true clan and even a half-ogre drunk. The one complaint I have here is that plot-relevant characters and companions are voiced, while everyone is speaks through text. This can be somewhat jarring when you have one companion who’s quieter than his teammates.
This is an absolutely excellent game, and I heartily recommend it to any fan of fantasy RPG or even this looking for a uni setting with interesting lore. As a side note, there are also patches available that do things like restore content that was cut, provide higher quality maps and givegive the game support for modern screen resolutions. They’re simple to install and really help this game look and run beautifully.
(P. S. if you’re looking for a very entertaining gameplay experience…. Roll a character with 1 intelligence. Yes you can do it, yes it affects the gameplay. That’s how much attention to detail these guys had)
Thank you for reading. As usual, please feel free to leave comments, suggestions and criticism in the comments.