After 7 years in development, and over $95,000 collected on Kickstarter, Twin Otter Studio‘s Arcadian Atlas is finally here. Inspired by the likes of Final Fantasy Tactics, the game has managed to garner solid fan support over the years of its development. Thankfully, this long wait is finally over.
Arcadian Atlas is a Tactical RPG about the choices people make for love and power, and how those decisions tear a kingdom apart. It was released on PC via Steam on 27th July 2023.
In The Name of Love
Arcadian Atlas explores the theme of choice and its impact on love and power. The game asks players to consider what they are willing to sacrifice or compromise for the things they love, and how their choices can have far-reaching effects on themselves and others. The game also examines how power can corrupt or empower people, and how it can be used for good or evil. The game challenges players to think critically about their moral values and ethical dilemmas, and to face the repercussions of their choices.
The game has a branching narrative that changes depending on the decisions players make throughout the game, affecting the relationships between characters and the outcome of the war. The game also has multiple endings that reflect the consequences of the player’s actions.
However, it struggles quite a bit due to its pacing and length. The game feels too short and rushed, as it tries to cram too much story and content into a few hours of gameplay. The game does not give enough time for the player to explore the world, learn about the lore, or bond with the characters. It also skips over some important events or scenes, leaving some plot holes or unanswered questions. Its cliffhanger endings and rather vague takeaways do not help either.
Where Bows Outmatch Swords
Story issues aside, the game struggles quite a bit due to its repetitive and not-so-easy-to-learn combat. The battles lack variety and excitement, as most of them involve moving around a grid and attacking enemies with basic attacks or skills. The game does not offer much in terms of environmental interaction, terrain effects, or special objectives. The enemies are also rather generic and predictable, with few surprises or twists. The combat also suffers from some balance issues, as some jobs and skills are clearly more powerful or useful than others. For example, the Ranger job can easily dominate most battles with its high damage output and range, while the Bard job is almost useless with its weak buffs and debuffs.
For instance, the game boasts 4 Classes, with each class having 2 subclasses. Some of the classes have barely any active skills to use in combat, like Warmancer (Mages). They basically get 1 attack skill and 1 channeling skill per element of magic. Meanwhile, apothecaries are overloaded with skills, they can do everything in the game. Be it buff/debuff, heal, resurrect, attack, and even AOE attacks, this class has it all
Another issue with Arcadian Atlas is its user interface and the lack of quality-of-life features. The game does not provide enough information or feedback to the player, making it hard to plan and execute strategies. For instance, the game does not show the exact damage or hit chance of each attack or skill, nor does it show the turn order or initiative of each unit. The game also does not allow the player to undo or confirm their actions, which can lead to frustrating mistakes or accidents. The game also lacks some basic options and settings, such as the ability to adjust the sound volume, change the key bindings, or save the game at any time.
Lost In Wonderland
The game boasts a beautiful pixel art style that creates a vibrant and immersive world for players to explore. The game also features a rich and diverse soundtrack that complements the mood and atmosphere of each scene. But this is severely hindered by its frustrating navigation system, where the mini-map does not even rotate on its own.
Adding to that, the game is severely limited in terms identifying of different levels of height in its map. Random and repetitive encounters along the way just take this to a whole new level of being frustrated.
As it stands in its current state, Arcadian Atlas is rather difficult to recommend. Despite its rather serviceable plot and great visuals, the game struggles a lot due to its rather mismatched battle classes, where ranged combat reigns superior to melee. With some quality-of-life improvements in its combat and navigation, this title might get the second chance it deserves.
Final Rating: 60/100