Arc of Alchemist is the latest title by Compile Heart and Idea Factory on the PlayStation 4 and Switch to arrive early this year. Different in the story, appearance and gameplay from the traditional Neptunia series, the game is based on the premise one may expect: a dystopian world filled with alchemy, treachery and world conquest. Arc of Alchemist was released for the PS4 and Switch in January 2020.
Within the world of Arc lies a vast and seemingly endless desert populated by small countries across the treacherous land. The Desert of Beginnings, as it is known, conceals the secret of the Great Power, a mythical key passed into legend that is believed to be the key to humanity’s salvation. Heavily guarded by deadly battle weapons called Machine Dolls in the desert sands, Quinn Bravesfold is dispatched with an investigation team by order of the King to retrieve the ancient alchemic device before it falls into the hands of the rival enemy nation: the Principality of Neuhaven.
A variety of combat styles can be utilized with Quinn in the real time battles from ranged attacks to front facing attacks. The two actions are easily accessible at the start of every encounter with two other allies forming your party. Assigning orders and formations is done via the menu screen with plenty of room for experimentation to find your preferred fighting style. With the aid of the Lunagear, you have access to four elements: fire, water, wind and earth. As a special device comprised of ancient technology, the Lunagear incorporates the elemental attacks by using orbs. You are equipped with fire attacks at the start with other orbs to be discovered and equipped throughout the game. Slotting different orbs in the Lunagear enables access to combined elemental attacks. Developing a refined strategy of elemental attacks coupled with fighting alongside your allies is the key to securing victory against large foes and tough boss fights.
The elements serve to help your party outside of combat when traversing the map. Utilizing the Fire orb to illuminate dark areas and melt ice barrier helps your party to progress in tricky areas. As for the Earth orb, it not only shields your allies from damage but can also be used to stack building blocks to reach high platforms and scale steep walls. In the wild, there are lots of hidden traps that disorient the party with mechanical gimmicks inflicting damage to unsuspecting allies. Should you decide another party member is better suited to lead, you can swap from Quinn to the other members at any time. Formations can also be chosen to assign tactical orders to your allies for any to every situation. After you have acquired items and explored as much as possible, heading back to home base will help you prepare for the upcoming threats and dangers on your journey.
During my playthrough of the game, the game never really felt as smooth as one would hope. When running around the open fields or casting elemental spells to solve puzzles, the frame rate is noticeably low with animations that appear to be staggered. This becomes apparent when special skills or abilities are used in combat and in the instances of invisible barriers blocking you from going any further to explore in a respective direction. Visually, the character designs don’t appear as detailed or colorful as they could be, especially when standing near ruins or other rocky terrains.
Arc of Alchemist is an enjoyable game while it lasts but tends to feel short in the overall length. The combat definitely has its moments with the Lunagear with the base mechanics as a nice touch with the expansion of its facilities. As it stands, it’s a fun title that can be completed in less than a week’s time. Overall, Arc of Alchemist could have reached greater heights if the story mode was longer with more polish and substance in the game.
PROS (+): Base Mechanics, Fun Combat, Engaging Soundtrack
CONS (-): Frame Rate Issues, Short Game
SCORE – 6.5/10
This review is based on a digital copy of Arc of Alchemist on the PlayStation 4 provided by Idea Factory International.