Arcania: Gothic 4 review

  • European no-nonsense humor
  • Skill-based combat
  • Classic fantasy setting is well realized
  • Lock-on camera is horrible
  • Infrequent checkpointing and autosaving
  • No cool late game powers

This article comes courtesy of GamesRadar sister magazine

There’s a brilliant lack of romance and sentimentality to the opening scene of ArcaniA. You’re a farmer who doesn’t so much dream of marrying his girlfriend as assume she’ll say yes once you’ve done a few quests for her dad. She’s hiding the fact that she’s already pregnant while you lie about completing quests, and as you’re schooled in the game’s combat system you get a flavor for the European no-nonsense humor that underpins an otherwise deadpan, dreadfully earnest take on the fantasy genre.

From the rats to the goblins, from the swords to the fireballs, this is what we shall call a ‘classic’ fantasy world which actually gains something from the odd characters and (to be honest) uncomfortable translation. It helps you to suspend your disbelief and enjoy the indefinably alien world.

Sadly, the rest of the game is a lot more familiar, in a Two Worlds kind of way. Combat is a combination of melee, archery and magic. Although there’s obviously an element of stats, you’ll be required to perform well-timed rolls and observe your enemy’s movement if you’re going to survive a battle with even the humble bloodflies.

Magic – as we all well know – comes in three different flavors: fire, which non-surprisingly burns the troll you’re fighting after the initial damage; cold, which slows enemies for a long time; and electricity, which completely paralyzes your unfortunate foe for a much shorter time. As you develop through the skill trees, you begin to realize that the future doesn’t hold much in the way of game-changing powers for your hero – it’s longer chains, stronger attacks, and not much beyond. It’s still progress, but it’s not as satisfying as it could be.

A bigger problem is that during that skill-based combat, the lock-on camera is out of your control. In a close-up fight, you dramatically zoom in on the creature you’re fighting, from an unnecessary top-down view. That would be fair enough if creatures didn’t come in gangs of three as standard – and you’re expected to react to the actions of the creatures you can no longer see. It completely ruins combat, almost as much as the ease with which you can carelessly die – which, coupled with the infrequent checkpointing and autosaving, leads to a grinding sense of repetition.

Gothic has traditionally been a PC title, and although developer Spellbound has included radial menus to make console players feel at home, this is still a pretty poor conversion and it needs the PC staples of quick-saves, scalable graphics and a mouse to be worth the asking price. If the Gothic series is ever going to be a success on console, Spellbound has much to learn.

If you'd like to see more articles from Xbox World 360, you can get a subscription here.

Oct 19, 2010

More Info

Release date: Oct 19 2010 - PC, Xbox 360, PS3 (US)
Oct 29 2010 - PC, Xbox 360, PS3 (UK)
Available Platforms: PC, Xbox 360, PS3
Genre: Role Playing
Published by: DreamCatcher Interactive
Developed by: Spellbound
Franchise: Gothic
ESRB Rating:
Teen: Alcohol Reference, Blood, Language, Use of Tobacco, Violence
PEGI Rating:

Join the Discussion
Add a comment (HTML tags are not allowed.)
Characters remaining: 5000
  • sidearm - December 28, 2010 10:38 p.m.

    do other people have the same problem when fighting the 3 orcs your game keeps freezing after u beat them. cant even play on
  • dropdeadjames - October 20, 2010 9:29 p.m.

    I'm playing this right now (360). About 9 hours in, I'd say. RPG fans will like this game if they give it a good 3 or 4 hours. It looks beautiful, but the targeting system sucks. The use of "warp glyphs" is simply retarded, and the story is par at best. The thing about the targeting system is that your supposed to hit X when your weapon flashes to execute a flurry, however you can hardly see that because of the unecessary targeting camera angle. It's frustrating. It's alright, I suppose...I haven't played other Gothics, and I won't after this. I'm trading this in monday to help pay for Fable 3. @ TheVoid - You are so right. This game is completely dumbed down in the hope that it will appeal to more casual gamers. The thing WON'T. So they should have at least gone for the geeks. C'mon.
  • JADENkOTOR - October 19, 2010 8:09 p.m.

    This demo blew SACK!
  • kyle94 - October 19, 2010 4:56 p.m.

    Aw, I was hoping that this would be good. Also, even though it's worse than the previous Gothic games, I'm still willing to bet that this will be a hundred times more popular in Europe than North America. The Gothic series is always like that,
  • TheVoid - October 19, 2010 4:29 p.m.

    This is really too bad. The prior Gothics for PC have been flawed but noble efforts, offering fully-realized environments with NPCs that actually seemed busy doing stuff other than waiting for you to come talk to them. They never completely gelled but each sequel seemed to get closer to something truly magnificent. Enter Gothic 4; a dumbed-down game that sounds completely mediocre in an effort to win mass appeal and multi-platform compatibility. Way to screw a franchise out of the few things it had going for it! Much to learn indeed, and well said! Too bad this developer seems to destined to march forward with a one-step-forward-two-steps-back mentality. That is, of course, until Spellbound's finance well runs dry, which is all but guaranteed after this offering seeing how it will likely attract the attention of no one.
  • AngryScotsman - October 19, 2010 2:36 p.m.

    I'm struggling to grasp the concept of "European no-nonsense humour". Anyone care to explain?
  • j5k44t6 - October 19, 2010 2:08 p.m.

    did they made the text readable on a standard def tv since the demo? its hard to manage stats if you cant read what your managing.
  • tomtatoe - October 19, 2010 11:48 a.m.

    I'm assuming they're hard at work on the Fallout review as these reviews are not written by GamesRadar staff, but by their sister magazines. Probably working an on epic three-pager.
  • Zepaw - October 19, 2010 11:37 a.m.

    Fallout I am buying no mater what the GR score, this I wel no longer be considering after this review. Maybe a rental if there are enough cheevos from the story mode.
  • zeetlock - October 19, 2010 11:08 a.m.

  • taco12324 - October 19, 2010 10:10 a.m.

    WHERE!? Where is the review for Fallout: New Vegas!!!
  • Stahlbrand - October 19, 2010 8:56 a.m.

    Hated the PC demo. VO was worse than terrible, models were ugly, and WTF was with the game's modelling of ponytails as transparent at the base? The environment and lighting make for good screenshot fodder, but little else about the demo could be described in positive terms.