by Sergio Brinkhuis
reviewed on PC
It’s a party (cntd)
On ‘easy’ and ‘medium’, combat is fast, fluid and entertainingly challenging but at the levels beyond it quickly becomes frustrating to the point of feeling unfair. Often, the only way to win there is to exploit the AI’s tendency to - en masse - run after their chosen target even when your own ranged guys are taking pot shots at them at arm’s length.
The game sparsely dishes out loot, but when it does the items are often a useful improvement on what you already carry around. It’s just magical trinkets, though. Weapons, armour… Aarklash has none of that. The items that you will find are rings, necklaces and other baubles that provide you with protective and offensive bonuses. The inventory is shared among all characters so items are swapped instantly and whatever you don’t want can be ‘recycled’, putting the item’s energy into an energy bin that will eventually spawn a legendary item when filled up.
Between combat sessions, your characters engage in all sorts of entertaining banter. Most of the voice work is decent, some of it is quite good and the handful that fall into the “duds” category do little to diminish the overall feel that you’re listening to a capable set of voice actors. The story that they are telling is occasionally interesting but usually falls short of expectations. It feels like a few too many shortcuts were taken, resulting in a haphazardly put together story that feels like you’re following a TV show from the kitchen, missing out on some parts but still able to follow what it is about.
That lacklustre storytelling is more than made up for by the game’s fabulous visuals. There is a tremendous amount of graphical polish in every aspect of the game. From the backgrounds to the characters and NPCs and even inventory and skill tree windows, everything looks and feels like a labour of love. It is more than a match for say Diablo 3 – which I am sure had a far superior budget – and it offers quite a bit of variety as well as number of visually pleasing surprises.
I’m not quite finished playing Aarklash: Legacy yet, but I’m getting there. Already I feel like I would like to see more. Yet for a sequel to work, there is one aspect of the game – outside of the storytelling – that its developers will need to work on, and that is depth. You see, right now the game is as linear as they come and outside of the battles and the sparse cut-scenes, there is very little variation to be found. You go from fight to fight and there is never anything else to do. How about a little puzzle here and there, and what about adding weapons to the list of items that can be looted and equipped? Adding some side-quests would also go a long way into adding more depth to the game.
Aarklash: Legacy can take these criticisms holding its head up high. Its combat is among the most fun I have had in a party-based Action RPG in a long while and its art direction and visual fidelity are way, way up there.
Superb visuals and fun combat sessions.
Story-telling and depth are lacking.