In Arc the Lad: End of Darkness you play as Edda, a young exorcist, that leaves his island home to become a hunter. As he sets off on his journey, after meeting Kirika, a mysterious woman on a journey of her own, he’ll meet characters from the previous PlayStation 2 game, Arc the Lad: Twilight of the Spirits. It is set a thousand years after the original PlayStation Arc the Lad games.The graphics throughout the game use the same engine and there is not much to look at. The backgrounds consist of the basic terrain types, forest, mountain, field, etc. Rooms in these areas are often identical and the same looking areas can be found on the different continents. The various monster types range from bugs, slimes, birds, etc. They come in many shades, so expect to see the same type monsters a lot. The characters come off a little blocky and the town’s folk seem generic and come in your standard varieties of young to old. At times the character’s motions also seem unnatural, noticeable in the many cut scenes throughout the game. The reason for that is there is no voice acting, save for the few random phrases during combat. There is the full spectrum of sound effects that you would expect from monster cries to clangs of weapons. The music sounds good and has songs from past Arc the Lad games.
The combat system moved from the turn based of previous members of the series, to an action based one. The world is a full 3D one with many lands and each land having a town. The story and game progress with hunter missions. There are two types which you must earn 10 ranking points each. After you gain 10 points for each type you can take a test that will level your character up. The ones from the guild desk grant you a reward (money), while the ones posted on the info board grant no reward. Missions have difficulty ratings and should be paid attention to when you chose them. You will often team up with others, but you will be able to control one character. The ability and equipment system is based on cards that you can buy and find during missions. There are basic attack commands, fast, strong, etc. and special attacks that are gained by equipping ability cards. The learning curve is simple and shouldn’t take one to long to learn the controls.
The game also includes an online mode that lets you play both vs. and co-op games. The online mode requires a broadband connection. The co-op mode lets you team up with others to do missions. The vs. mode lets you play against others, during which you can use the character cards you find offline to assume the looks and abilities of the said character. The character cards are found during normal game play and can be used in the online mode only. Other then those, the online mode has no other different aspects from the offline mode.
The game has easy to learn controls, allows the player to do missions in the order they wish and online mode. Yet there is no camera control, the graphics could have been better, and has a lack of voice work. The game can be completed in around 20 hours and doesn’t have much replay value other then playing through again for missed stuff.
Arc the Lad: End of Darkness is an average game. It looks dated and the lack of voice work hurts it. The game play is hack and slash and doesn’t have much depth. The only mode doesn’t provide much entertainment and your time could be spent else where. Also the change of game play styles will possibly turn off fans of the series.
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