Platform: PS3 / Xbox 360
Reviewed On: PS3

Quinoa. A low-brow Hollywood action film. Most lagers. ArcaniA.

Do you see what I'm getting at? Some things are just workmanlike, they're filler, or they exist as a low-entry point to finer fare, a palette cleanser, or they're merely economically necessary as the cheap'n'easy counterpoint to the higher end stuff, that would itself be meaningless if not for the accessible dross to contrast against it.

 photo arcania-01_zps6176b7a6.jpgAlthough, none of the other aforementioned exemplars of necessary mediocrity are unintentionally hilarious. ArcaniA isn't exactly so-bad-it's-good; a lot of the mechanics are solid and it's kind of entertaining in a totally forgetful, bland way; it's worth playing alone for the slight mis-translations and surreal fetch-quests that had me questioning the developers' sanity and/or sense of humour. Non-sequitur follows bizarre naming convention follows dialogue trees which are more like dialogue 2x4s, and the game has possibly the best riff on the 'humble villager out on a quest sees his village burning and the characters you've come to know and love burning and dying and vows revenge against a faceless king' that I've ever seen.

I don't want to spoil it for you, but I'm about to describe it anyway - so skip this paragraph if you have any intention of buying the game cheap and whizzing through the first hour or so before realising you're old enough to know better.

 photo arcania-03_zps6ac5b390.jpgBasically, you start with a few totally mundane and overly-drawn out tutorial quests ensconced in the fiction of you proving your eligibility to marry the village chieftain's daughter. Including, touchingly, a master/slave role reversal with a half-orc who wants you to find him a bunch of blue mushrooms whilst he enjoys the power trip. Shortly thereafter, on your return to the village, a CG sequence kicks in with such a staggering lack of tact or forewarning that I actually guffawed. We see ships suddenly sweeping on to the shore and vague, generic shots of your burning homestead in turmoil. Your nameless character dashes through the wreckage (seemingly now devoid of any aggressors?) calling out his new fianceé's name - whom I might add, sprung the news that she was with child only minutes before - and that only minutes after the most hilarious marriage proposal that made it sound more like an arranged trip to the shops than a romantic devotion. Finding her dying with an arrow somewhat harshly sticking out of her chest, your protagonist tenderly strokes her face, at which an embarrassing dissolve transitions the gesture into a fist clenching around burial soil. Hardly Tristan and Isolde, to say the least, but possessed of an almost slapstick brilliance.

Gameplay wise, combat is button-mashy, with little to no reason to mix up melee, ranged and magic - and the level up system as a result is completely arbitrary. Think the meaninglessness of Kingdoms of Amalur crossed with the dodge-roll mania of The Witcher. The graphics and art design are perfunctory - you really can tell it's a PC port. What else is there to say?

Oh yeah, it's baffling mirthful how going anywhere near a rock face causes your nameless everyman to gravitate, hover/slide and stare earnestly into space whilst the collision detection wigs out and you lovingly produce gif after gif of tumblr-delight.

 photo arcania-02_zps2f572077.jpgHonestly speaking, this game isn't worth playing. I'm glad it exists though, as a quirky relic of the then-under-served PC RPG market. Now a console port, it's woefully, hilariously outclassed and devoid of merit other than the aforementioned bizarre nature of each and every quest and dialogue. Watch some clips on YouTube, rent it from Lovefilm for an hour's baffled enjoyment, and you won't be disappointed.