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8.61 based on 59 votes

Arcanum: Of Steamworks & Magick Obscura

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Release Date :
August 21st, 2001
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ESRB Descriptors :
Blood, Mature Sexual Themes, Violence

Game Description

Arcanum, a spiritual follow-up to Interplay’s Fallout games, was released in 2001 by Troika.  Set in a steampunk/fantasy world with a Victorian-era aesthetic, Arcanum is an open-ended CRPG with extensive character customization options and a huge game world to explore.


The player starts the game as a passenger aboard the IFS Zephyr, a zeppelin on its maiden voyage.  During its flight, it comes under attack, and crashes outside the village of Shrouded Hills.  The player, and a gnome named Radcliffe are the only two survivors, and Radcliffe dies shortly after the crash, living long enough to hand the player a silver ring and a vague message to deliver it to “the boy”.  Things soon become more complicated as the player dodges multiple assassination attempts, is held up as the reincarnation of the Panarii religion’s messiah, and becomes embroiled in a much larger plot.


Gameplay is highly similar to Tim Cain’s previous masterwork, Fallout, and features open-ended exploration, extensive interaction with NPCs, freeform character creation, and largely replaces the moral compass of most RPGs with a magick vs. technology affinity, which will change depending on how heavily invested the player becomes in one school or the other, with high rewards for becoming a master of one, but consequences in the form of permanent weaknesses to the other.  Combat is either turn-based or real-time, depending on which the player prefers, with the turn-based system similar to the original Fallout games and the real-time system resembling action-RPGs like Diablo.

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