Arcanum: Of Steamworks & Magick Obscura Review

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Eschalon: Book II

Publisher:Sierra Entertainment
Developer:Troika Games
Release Date:2001-08-21
  • Role-Playing
Platforms: Theme: Perspective:
  • Isometric
Buy this Game: Amazon ebay
Your NPC party members are pretty much going to do what they want, but you do give them some simple commands. Like Baldur's Gate, some will not join a party that conflicts with their alignment, and they will leave if things are not to their liking. They will gain experience from your actions, but the opposite does not apply. In combat, they may wander out of your field of view and kill someone or something you didn't want them to kill. They may get themselves killed. These problems are exacerbated in real-time combat and alleviated in turn-based combat.

Honestly, no matter what setting you use, combat is a non-tactical affair and is one of the game's weakest points.

Would you expect the computer you bought back in 2001 to be as good as the one you just bought this year? Would you expect it to have the same graphics capabilities, sound and picture quality?

You have to expect that compared to what we have today, Arcanum's graphics will look second-rate. I'm not saying they are bad in fact, the artwork and stylishness are quite appealing but this is no Neverwinter Nights. If you played Planescape: Torment or Pool of Radiance, you'll recall the somewhat bland and repetitive scenery and ambience. Similarly, this game is somewhat bland, but as with the two aforementioned games, the setting is suited to the style and theme of the game.

That aside, the game is still somewhat flat. There is a vague, muted quality to the graphics. The city areas are more interesting than the wilderness areas. At least in the cities you can appreciate the architecture and the sense of encroaching industry. While the background art and such is easy on the eyes, some of the monsters and animations are going to come off as silly or weird and awkward-looking.

The background music fits the theme, but there is nothing compelling about it (especially as it endlessly repeats throughout the game). The sounds effects are rather mundane, and also have no particularly outstanding merit, although the character voices are generally well done.

The graphics, music, and sounds, while passable, are really on par with the combat, in other words, not among the highlights of the game. Don't expect any eye candy here, or ear candy either for that matter (if there is such a thing). In fact, let's just rule out the candy.

Arcanum is creative and clever, fun and immersing. You will love creating and developing your character, as well as collecting schematics, assembling items, and exploring the world. There are many NPCs and quests and items to keep you busy. The game is not going to be on par with the current standards of graphics, AI, or combat. Take this as a given. Look instead to the plot, the style, and the settings.

The game has some distinctive features that make it unique. Granted, it will not appeal to everyone, but as an older game, it's relatively cheap I think I paid 10 bucks for it. At that price, you've got nothing to lose and I think that it will inspire many true RPG fans out there with its creativity and depth. For a fan of the shinier and newer games, you're probably not missing out on anything earth-shaking. But for a fan of the genre and real role-playing, the game is worth playing, and once played, worth playing again.