Lord of Arcana Review

By Gus Mastrapa - Posted Feb 07, 2011

Lord of Arcana attempts to cook up the co-operative combat of Monster Hunter, but there a few key ingredients missing from this stew.

The Pros
  • Fight monsters and loot treasure with friends
  • Satisfying and stylish coup de grace finishers
  • Solo players can grind up to any challenge
The Cons
  • Supports local wireless only
  • Flimsy plot and empty world offer little to hold onto
  • Clumsy controls fail in the heat of battle

Lord of Arcana Review:

If there's one thing better than embarking on a videogame adventure it's taking on that same quest with  a couple of your best friends. Lord of Arcana, a co-op action RPG for the PSP, attempts to re-create the collaborative play of Monster Hunter but stumbles in key areas.

This should come as no surprise, considering that Access Games -- the team behind the half-broken, gloriously corny Deadly Premonition -- developed the game. But the low-rent approach does more harm than good here, and leaves Lord of Arcana feeling chintzy and under-baked.
 


 
The Future Is Not Set

The plot here is paper-thin. You're one of many warriors aiming to achieve godhood in a monster-ridden land called Horodyn. From a hub called Porto Carillo, you'll help rid the land of Master Guardians: the oversized monsters that plague the land. However, all this nonsense isn't what motivates you: it's the fact that you can't get any good gear, potions or loot unless you get your ass out of town and start killing stuff. 

This is where Lord of Arcana starts to veer dangerously from the Monster Hunter blueprint: Capcom's games build a world -- an ecosystem, economy and society -- where you fit in. Lord of Arcana merely gives you a world of dungeons to crawl.

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Order of Battle

Dungeon crawls begin with a visit to your guild, where you take on a job, recruit friends to pitch in and set out on your journey. Lord of Arcana's biggest shortcoming is that it only supports Ad-Hoc multi-player, Sony’s version of local wireless. With no online community pad out your party, you're forced to solo or convince your friends to buy a poorly rated RPG that nobody has heard of.

If Lord of Arcana was tuned towards solo play this would be forgivable; however, many of the game's encounters seem designed for teams of fighters. The upside is that your weapon proficiency and over-all strength grows as your grind your way through tedious battles. Eventually even the solo combatant will have what it takes to take down the heartiest Master Guardian.
 


 
Lord of Arcana's controls are clumsy, but serviceable, but it’s hard to manage the camera (mapped to the d-pad) while in motion. Switching between locked-on enemies is no fun either. The game's best moments happen just before you're about to take down a bad guy. Its impossible to tell how much health a monster had until they're about to die. When they're on their last hit points the camera starts to tilt into a dizzy Dutch angle. That's your queue to get ready for the your one-button Coup De Grace kill – an over-the-top finisher that snuffs your target and sends other nearby goons reeling. 
 


 
Choose Your Own Adventure

Apart from stylistic high-points like the Coup De Grace, Lord of Arcana feels like a serviceable -- but ultimately forgettable -- co-op dungeon crawler. Sadly, the game feels hobbled by its lack of online play. If you've got a friend or two with copies of the game, you could do worse than joining them for a few dungeon runs.

However, apart from giving players access to better loot, this thin multiplayer offers little motivation for you to go through all the trouble. Games like this require an investment of time, energy and imagination, but before we can be expected to fork over those valuable resources its on game designers to make the first deposit. Lord of Arcana is dead broke in all departments.

Still want to play it? Why not rent it at Gamefly?