I can’t be the only person who has spent a lot of time imagining what it would be like to live in a world of magic. Between the excitement of sorcery and the thrill of brewing potions which may or may not have the power to kill (I don’t trust myself either). It just feels like an exciting experience. But, it’s completely unachievable. In a way, it’s probably for the best. My cooking occasionally cannot be trusted, so my alchemy skills would definitely be written off. Luckily for me, Arcadia Fallen lets me become a trusted alchemist without putting that many people at risk.
There is a whole world of magic and mischief for you to explore in this title. Let’s not waste any more time imagining.
Story: Tale as old as time
If you engage with the genre of fantasy in gaming frequently, the constant battle between magic folk and humans won’t be unheard of. Although it’s unclear where this skepticism originated, undeniably it has stuck with us. Arcadia Fallen encourages this. You take on the role of an alchemist shop assistant. You have few tasks to complete and they usually involve brewing some sort of remedy for whatever poor soul wanders into the shop. Although you specifically don’t hold any magical power, it definitely becomes a massive part of your life as you progress through the story.
Before you know it, you become unwillingly bound to an extremely apologetic spirit. Mime is undeniably one of my favourite characters within this game. I can’t tell if it’s because of relatable general clumsiness or their people pleasing attitude, but I instantly listed them as my favourite. Upon returning to your home, you quickly realise that something dark has possessed the town you inhabit and they are out to destroy you. Your main aim is to contain the evil spirits responsible for all this destruction and in doing so you come into contact with a number of interesting individuals.
Obviously Arcadia Fallen is player dependent for the progression of the story. It depends on how you want to play it, hence why there are so many prompts and outcomes during interactions. As a whole, it’s definitely something special. Despite this title being cliche regarding the storyline, it certainly stands as unique. There is something compelling about this game that kept me wanting to discover more. Each character has a significant reason to be where they are. Whilst some just stumbled into situations, others execute their reasoning with violence and you’re responsible for finding out why.
Gameplay: Harness power you didn’t know you had
With games like this, I usually go in with little to no expectations. With not much to do but sit back, read and click, I was fully prepared to spend my time feeling rather bored. But Arcadia Fallen was fully equipped and prepared to prove me wrong. I was captivated within the first hour. Ready to devote my time in finding out who everyone I saw is and uncover their backstory. The gameplay is undeniably engaging and will have you trapped in it’s own little fantasy land before you know it. Between the main storyline, and each character’s terrific backstory, there is more than enough content to keep you occupied for hours.
Due to the nature of this title, as you can imagine controls are very basic. As I mentioned already, it’s essentially just read and click when necessary. So anyone can pick it up. But each conversation has several outcomes which are down to the player. You decide on the approach you want to take towards the game. Be it angry, inquisitive or genuinely kind, the power is in your hands.
Every single dialogue option you are presented with comes with a tiny subheading explaining what personality trait it has so you don’t have to worry about accidentally saying something really angrily when you meant it to be a joke. I found this really helpful as it slows down your thoughts so you can process what you’re about to say before you say it. Occasionally the game will sound when a big decision needs to be made and you’ll be presented with two options. This will massively impact your gameplay so CHOOSE WISELY.
Becoming a master of alchemy is no easy feat
When your adventure begins, you are tasked with sealing demons away using alchemy. This comes in the form of a slide puzzle. You have to match the colours to the opposing alchemy locket. It’s not that difficult, and there’s no time pressure, but it definitely feels like it. In certain scenarios I felt like my palms began to sweat as I frantically solved these puzzles. They’re essentially moving venn diagrams, so they are very easy to navigate.
These alchemy skills are also used to brew certain potions which aid combat routines. Despite working with minimal ingredients to begin with, matching certain symbols open up an entire world of wonder. From sleeping potions to headache remedy, alchemy with Elizabeth really covers it all. You are the shop assistant. It would be rude not to utilise these skills in your quests. Plus, your mentor seems impressed with you being able to harness these skills. And will constantly encourage you to discover more. Needless to say, Arcadia Fallen has more than just dialogue to click through. I didn’t find myself getting bored. Even after losing track of time and realising I’d been sat in front of it for hours.
Audio and Graphics: The songbirds have stories to tell
Arcadia Fallen adopts a charming, hand-drawn art style. Each character is expressive, and locations are detailed and colourful. Colours play a large role in this game, and reflect the entire tone of certain locations or encounters. Whilst at the beginning your home is bright and cheerful, when you understand the situation things dramatically darken. Whether this is intentional or not, it definitely helps the immersion for the storyline. I must give a special mention to the colour palette during sorcery though. Incredible purple hues and striking pinks cover your screen and it is simply beautiful. It certainly feels magical.
Although this title doesn’t feature a lot of movement, and relies on single frame animations to show reactions and responses of characters. Yet it still feels well polished and fluid. Everything moves very smoothly, whether that is between locations or during battle. The over dramatic change in reaction from characters (Mime in particular) is wonderfully executed. It perfectly captures genuine emotion and makes the cast feel animated in full despite not actually being that.
Every hero needs a bard
Additionally, the soundtrack deserves significant recognition. When you begin the game, you are graced with an incredibly catchy anime-esque opening theme. It really sets the tone for the game. You know from the get go what you are getting yourself into. I can’t help but feel as if this introduction is reflective of Critical Role, since it has a similar animation style and visual content. Either way, it definitely gets you pumped up and ready to dive straight in.
The entire cast is narrated as well, and each character’s personality definitely shines through. I find it way easier to engage with characters if I can put a voice to them rather than just reading a script. In terms of this title, the voice acting is exactly what I would imagine for each character. They are enthusiastic when needs be, or fearful, or determined. It’s phenomenal to sit back and just experience conversation. Obviously the type is also available to read. More often than not the voice acting will shorten the content of the text boxes. Significant points are read fully by the voice actors. So if you’re skipping through text these will stick out more than the rest so you don’t miss anything important.
This game was reviewed on PC, with a key provided by Games Branding.