Lord of Arcana

Bored of Arcana

Monster Hunters should unite to stay free of Lord of Arcana.
Author: Aram Lecis
Published: March 24, 2011
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The Monster Hunter series is something of a phenomenon in Japan, with countless folks riding the subway together and teaming up to help take on massive monsters, loot their stuff, and craft up items to take on more giant monsters. It's as much a social event as it is a game. While the series never garnered quite the same popularity here (probably due to the fact not as many of us ride subways), recent offerings like Monster Hunter Freedom Unite have done fairly well on the PSP. Access Games has decided to jump on the bandwagon with their latest title, Lord of Arcana. Did Square Enix hit a home run deciding to publish this game, or should this one have stayed home in glorious Nippon?

While I never dug that deep into the Monster Hunter games, I played enough to appreciate the finesse and beauty of the combat system, and I understand the thrill of working together to take down some impossibly imposing creatures, a task made all the more herculean by the lack of voice chat. Yes, these games are all about long grinds and epic battles, but as long as the fighting has some sense of depth, you don't need a whole lot of story and sidequests to make a compelling game. When your game is focused on non-stop combat, you really can't afford to skimp on the basic systems, but unfortunately, that might be the case with Lord of Arcana.

The action all takes place in a land called Horodyn, which coincidentally was the name of the first king of the land who abolished the evil and made it ok for humans to live there. Only he didn't abolish them very well, since vile creatures are still pretty much everywhere and require Slayers to constantly take care of their hash while searching for Arcana. Arcana, you see, is an ancient stone which holds great magical power. The whole thing is sort of like "The Golden Child", except instead of Eddie Murphy and a little bald boy, you have a generic adventurer and the rock from "Temple of Doom".

When you begin, you have the option to customize your Slayer a bit (mostly just a meager selection of face options) and choose your starting weapon from the familiar set of one-handed swords, two-handed swords, spears, hammers and some sort of magical staff thing. You aren't locked into that weapon type by any means, and if you are planning to go solo you probably should just avoid the magic staff, as magic is far more useful as a support skill than a legitimate offensive option. Once you have yourself kitted out, you'll go through a quick tutorial section and then be dumped into the world.

At this point, the story basically ends and the game presents you with a selection of missions to choose from. These missions break down into three types. Find some particular object out in the world, defeat a set amount of some type of creature, or battle a boss. You'll plod through an overworld sort of map, occasionally being attacked by random creatures until you complete the objective, at which time you will be returned to town to buy buy new equipment or craft it up from junk you collected. Grab another mission, do it again, and again, and again.
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