The first thing that needs to be said about this game, so that anyone who has ever played another Arc the Lad game doesn’t get the wrong idea when they see the title, is that this game is not really anything like any of the other Arc the Lad games.
A couple of the biggest changes are in the storyline and the battle system. Firstly, rather than being a totally story-based game like the others have always been, this game is based more on completing various missions in whatever order and however many times you feel like. Missions could be anything from saving some girls from some cowboys with machine guns, to killing ninjas and mushrooms, and can be made up of one or multiple stages. For the most part, the missions are rather short, so you can do a bunch of them without getting bogged down. As for the battle system, instead of being a more turn-based strategic setup, this game is action-oriented. Everything occurs in real time. As opposed to fake time.
Though the fact that this isn’t really like the other Arc the Lad games may turn some people off, I found the game to be a lot of fun. The fact that there are so many missions to do and you can continue playing the game even after the storyline ends allows for a lot of replay value offline, but possibly the main amount of fun to be had from the game comes from playing online. There are a great many online-specific missions to play, and various modes of play as well. For example, you could group together with up to four friends to take on swarms of NPC monsters, or you could even go up against other players. There are 25 different characters for you to play as, all taken from other Arc the Lad games, each with their own special techniques and fighting styles.
One of the most frightening things to hear about this game is the fact that it is “card-based.” This is scary, obviously, because many a time when RPGs try to base themselves on some card-based system they end up somewhat suckifying the series. I’m looking at you, Chain of Memories. Anyway, this game really isn’t card-based. It’s just refers to everything you equip as a “card.” There are defense cards, which are the same thing as armor, attack cards, magic cards, etc. So basically, instead of equipping armor or weapons you equip cards. There’s really no other difference than that. One thing about this that makes it even better than many other RPGs in regards to equipment is that some of the cards actually change the appearance of the characters. In fact, all 25 characters have equipment that will change their appearance. Maybe that means nothing to you, but I find it pretty damn cool.
I really like the way they did the controls for this game. It even sort of reminds me of .hack in that there are many things your character needs to be able to do, like cast spells/attack/use items/dodge/exorcise, and you need to be able to access everything quickly and easily, but the game still manages to allow you to do this easily and without even really thinking about it when you do it. Sure, like .hack, it may be a little complicated at first, but it’s easy to get used to and there really wasn’t a much better way to accomplish what they needed to accomplish.
The music is overall very enjoyable, and you can even pick and choose what music you listen to from the game’s music library when you go online. A lot of the areas you will travel to are taken straight from Arc the Lad: Twilight of the Spirits, so it comes as no surprise that a lot of the music is also taken from that game. If you have never played that game, assume the music was good in it.
There isn’t really anything of note about the visuals. I like them. They aren’t the best I have seen in my life, but they are good.
In the end, there are three factors you really should consider when deciding whether or not to buy this game. Factor 1: Will you go online? Factor 2: Are you a fan of the Arc the Lad series? Factor 3: Do you like action RPGs? If you answered “yes” to 2/3 or more of these, then you probably should look into getting this game. If you answered closer to 0/3, I recommend staying away.