Arcane Soul

Arcane Soul

Arcane Soul

Action-RPG Platformers combines a side-scrolling game with dynamic fighting system, and simple yet interesting RPG elements. The closest you can get are the side-scrolling action-adventure games in arcades minus the ability to customize your character's growth and equipment. Mseed Co. Ltd breathes life to this interesting genre in the form Arcane Souls. The game boasts beautiful visuals, very responsive controls, and a very dynamic battle system which will keep you immersed in the middle of the action.

Arcane souls features three well-balanced, playable characters. The Magic Swordsman Luke is an all-around warrior mage that can attack using sword and magic. Ellisa is Luke's counterpart and is an all-around Magicswordsgirl. The last character is Lilith, an Elemental Archer who's adept in using daggers and elemental attacks. She is considered as an Extra character and can be upgraded with gold instead of equipment.

After choosing your primary character, you'll be able to unlock the other two by completing Act 4 on Easy and Normal modes. You can also unlock them earlier by spending gold. Each of these characters have their own skill tree and some equipment that they can only use. Gold is very essential in the game since it is required to unlock new skills and upgrade them, get new equipment, increase your inventory slots, skill slots, and many more. Gold is dropped by defeated monsters and acquired as mission rewards. You can farm gold by repeating completed missions. Otherwise, you have to wait until you unlock Challenge Missions by completing the story arcs. These Challenge Missions will pit you against waves of monsters while giving you a single objective like protecting a crystal, surviving alone against hordes of monsters, etc. This is a good way to farm gold that you can use to purchase new equipment and skills.

Each act is divided to smaller different missions. Before starting each mission, you have the option to buy boosting potions to increase your attack, defense or experience for that mission only. There's also a scroll that will temporarily allow you to summon a companion. A considerable number of games features some sort of point or counter that is depleted every time you start a mission. Though these are designed to recover over time, this limits the number of times a player can play the missions at a specified time. Arcane Soul doesn't have such system which gives players the freedom to play and enjoy the game as much as they want.

Character customization is simple yet has a pivotal impact in the game. Characters can equip weapons, Rune Holders, Pets, and Items. Weapons affect the damage output of your character in addition to his/her level and skill modifiers, Rune Holders increase the character's defense, Pets that accompany the characters and provide stat bonuses, and finally the consumables. Equipment can be enhanced with the use of Enchant Stones that are usually dropped by bosses or purchased. The game also allows you to determine your character's growth through the use of Stat Points. Characters earn two stat points after leveling up. It's up to players to choose which stats to allocate them. The game also allows complete "re-spec" or stat reset in exchange for gold. This gives players peace of mind in case they feel that they mistakenly allocated precious stat points on a stat they don't want.

Arcane Souls sets itself away from other arcade-style, action/adventure platformers where you just need to hack-and-slash through the opposition and collect power ups to make your character stronger. The RPG aspect of the game allows the player to keep permanent progress in their characters, not only through leveling them up but also unlocking new skills and getting new equipment for them. There are a total of 47 skills to unlock. These are divided to Action Skills (offensive skills that use MP), Action Skills (passive effect skills that enable your character to perform additional moves, and finally, Passive Skills which remain in effect permanently once you purchase them. Action and Passive Skills aren't restricted so it's okay for you to purchase them all at the same time. Active Skills however, are a different story. You can only equip at least three of them by default. To equip a total of six Active Skills, you have to purchase the last three locked skill slots though you can only have three skills displayed at a time. You can switch to the other three skills by swapping the skill set using the button onscreen.

The game's controls are very responsive and accurate. The usual problem for using onscreen buttons is that if you're a player with large fingers or if you're playing the game in a smaller screen, you can easily press the wrong button or two buttons at the same time. The game has that minor annoyance as well but it isn't that bad that it will hinder the gameplay. The smooth, fluid transition between normal attacks and skills allow players to chain combos easily. It is also possible to connect additional attacks, like attacking after running, jumping or connect consecutive skills together.

Arcane Soul's visual artstyle is beautiful, somewhat akin to the visual style of critically-acclaimed console games like Odin Sphere or Dragon's Crown. The character designs are somewhat anime-inspired but they're quite pleasant nevertheless. The character animations are impressive as well. If you look closely, you'll notice how detailed and fluid the animations are. From the character's minute facial expressions when attacking or getting damaged to the actual skill activation animation, the game delivers quite well in this aspect. The visual effects of skills are quite impressive as well. All of these aspects really immerse players into the action. The game's sound system isn't special yet it does get the job well.

When I played the game the first time, I was initially apalled by the slow framerate and quite hazy graphics quality. This is quite unexpected since I'm using a tablet (Nexus 2 2nd gen) But after finishing the tutorial mission and modifying the graphics settings in the game's option, both the graphics quality and the framerate has drastically improved. The fact that the developers added this option to tackle similar issues on different gadgets is a plus for me.

One of the major strong points of the game for me is that it doesn't require internet connection to work or play – except when you want to top-up your in-game gold using real money. This seems to be the only micro-transaction feature of the game. Paying players can use this feature to their advantage since they can purchase more powerful equipment for their level or level up their skills faster than a free player. Since the game lacks any multiplayer aspect, it eliminates the need for competition and just allows players to enjoy the classic, solo-mode RPG gameplay.

Best of all, the game is Free-to-Play. It doesn't have ads at all and all features of the game seems to be fully accessible without the need to force players to pay to unlock some things. Arcane Soul is beautiful and addicting – so much that I personally feel that it's already unfair to the developers. The game is very stable. I've been playing it for hours and I've yet to encounter any bug. The game also resumes perfectly if you freeze the game to do something on your device. If you want a great, offline RPG title for your mobile device, don't hesitate to get Arcane Souls.

4.6 / 5.0
review by vhayste | Sep 5th 2014

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