The tactical role playing game genre is one that has been relatively stale, up until Cyanide’s latest release Aarklash: Legacy. The game plays a psuedo single player MMORPG. The player is given control over their party; the Wheel blades, and must control each of the four members through each encounter. This has the player micromanaging and multitasking a lot. However, is Aarklash: Legacy an actual enjoyable game?
Audio and Video
The video in Aarklash is definitely above average; especially for the price point of the game. The colors are all mostly shades of dark, but there is enough contrast to keep the player’s eyes from getting sore. Unfortunately, as with most inexpensive games; the game suffers from optimization issues. While playing, video card temperatures will soar to record highs, often resulting in a complete system shutdown. Now this may happen during a critical fight, or while exploring the map. This is a huge issue as each fight in this game can take several minutes, and having that time lost just because of an overheat is inexcusable.
The audio in Aarklash is also above average. The music definitely paints the fantasy theme, allowing the player to find themselves immersed in the world of the Wheel Blades. The voice acting however, is quite average. The voice actors do a decent job of conveying each character’s personality, though at times it’s quite hard to listen to.
Control and HUD
The control in Aarklash is very similar to that of a real-time strategy game. The player is given an isometric view, and controls their 4 party members at the same time. Veterans of RTS games will feel right at home, as each party member controls like a hero unit in most RTS games. The characters seem to have no huge pathing issues, and will generally respond relatively quickly to the player’s moves.
Aarklash also uses a very minimalistic HUD. The player sees each of their party member’s health, the health of each of the enemies, and the small “blade” that houses the selected party member’s abilities. There is no clutter, or unnecessary graphics to block the screen, which is a definite plus.
Now to answer the most important question: “Is the game fun?” At it’s core, yes Aarklash is a quite fun game. The combat is just hard enough to give the player an interesting challenge, but just easy enough to prevent frustration(in some cases). Each battle feels incredibly monumental, and is a joy. The enemies all have interesting skills and mechanics which require the player to react to and deal with in their own unique ways. Additionally, the game allows the player to refund their skill points at any time, allowing them to constantly try new combinations of skills and party members.
However Aarklash is not perfect. There are several battles, in which the game boils down to trial and error. The player will find themselves constantly reloading and trying to figure out which skills and which party members Cyanide intended them to beat the encounter with, which gets incredibly old incredibly fast.
Overall, Aarklash is an above average game. At the center of it all, combat is enjoyable. However constantly testing new combinations of skills and party members does get old rather quickly. The game does look incredibly nice, however it runs the video card excessively hard to do so. The game sounds pretty good, but the voice acting detracts from that as well. Aarklash: Legacy is definitely worth it’s $20 price for fans of Role Playing Games.