by Sergio Brinkhuis
reviewed on PC
A single chance to make a first impression
“Huh? What?” Two words that rarely spell anything good when uttered mere seconds after getting into a game, but the most apt ones for Aarklash: Legacy’s beginning nonetheless. Being dumped rather unceremoniously into a fight without any kind of explanation tends to be confusing, I’ve found. To my fortune, this somewhat odd start of the game proved not to be indicative of the rest of it, even if it did set the tone somewhat for Aarklash’s story telling.
Players take control of a group of Wheel Swords; legit enforcers to a money lending organization called the Goldmongers. After years of war, the Goldmongers are finding it increasingly difficult to get the debts owed to them paid. The Barons have borrowed heavily to finance their wars and are no longer able to fulfil their end of the bargain. Sent out to retrieve an expensive object in order to pay for a debt, your party is uncharacteristically attacked by the debtor. This nearly unheard of act is soon explained as the group learns that the Goldmongers and their Wheel Sword warriors have been branded traitors by the local ruler. With a bloodthirsty army hot on their heels, your party sets out to find out what could possibly cause an entire nation to turn on them and their patrons.
It’s a party
Initially, your party consists of four Wheel Swords, their classes running the gamut from tank to healer. Others will join you but you will never have more than four Wheel Swords on the battleground at any given time so you must swap out someone to bring a new character in. It is tough choosing. Each and every character that I have encountered is truly unique when it comes to skills and fighting style. At heart, each character falls into the basic ‘ranged’ and ‘melee’ type, but character skills have a profound impact on how they are used. Wendaroo, for instance, uses magic to heal others but her skills aren’t entirely benevolent. To keep going, she needs to absorb the health of friendly characters in order to help others. Upgrading her Bloody Feast skill will allow you to absorb health from enemies instead but that skill will heal the enemy rather than actually taking health away. It’s a strange twist on your average Druid class, but it makes you think about what you are doing just that little bit more. Knokka’s skills are extremely powerful but similarly… cannibalistic as she uses her own health to activate her skills. The individual skills trees are simplistic with only four branches for each character, but like with the example above, many upgrades alter the nature of skills to some extent.
Aarklash’s combat sessions require you to strategize and really pay attention to what is happening in battle. Fortunately, battles can be paused so that you can get a good overview and take time to make your decisions. Even at ‘easy’, some battles will have you work hard for a victory and if all your characters are down, you will have to reload an earlier save.
The objective is, of course, to stay alive. Many actions, though not all, can be chained and your characters will automatically find a new target when they are done bashing in the head of the one you last assigned them. New enemies will occasionally pop up during combat, often bringing in a different enemy type that forces you to rethink your current strategy.
Superb visuals and fun combat sessions.
Story-telling and depth are lacking.