At first glance, Arkadian Warriors, Sierra’s newest hack ‘n slash title for Xbox Live Arcade, feels and plays like a scaled-down version of classics like Baldur’s Gate: Dark Alliance, or Champions of Norrath. However, after completing a few missions in the game, one thing becomes painfully obvious. Despite its charming look and simple gameplay mechanics, the game is extremely shallow and repetitive and over time becomes more of a drag than a pleasure to play.
Picking between an archer, soldier and sorceress, you must defend Arkadia against the evil serpent Gorgon and her evil minions. The only problem is that both the archer and sorceress are extremely tedious to play with, forcing the gamer to either play with the soldier or die during every difficult mission trying to rely on ranged attacks while being trampled by a screen filled with enemies. Luckily for gamers looking for some Action/RPG goodness on Xbox Live Arcade, the soldier is an enjoyable character to play as and has the versatility needed to get you through the game.
However, there are even bigger problems in the game that may make you not want to finish it. The quests are often boring and lack challenge or are so hard that you’ll be forced to play older missions over to get the experience needed to complete your current mission. While the uneven difficulty is one thing, the dungeon design in Arkadian Warriors is a disaster. Through 19 quests in the game, you’ll see perhaps a half dozen different environments, making each mission feel like a continuation of the last and not like something new. While the polish and depth of most original Xbox Live Arcade games aren’t much better than what’s available here, the fact that a dungeon crawler only has a few dungeons in it makes for a repetitive and dull overall experience.
On top of that, the game’s camera is flimsy at best and will often force you to rotate it to see everything on the screen. Playing online with another player can also be a problem as the camera doesn’t zoom out when players move away from one another. This will often force one gamer to get stuck in one room fighting enemies, while the other looks through half of the next room. The game’s map is also extremely juvenile, making it ridiculously easy to find secret areas and loot and items that you didn’t pick up [as well as enemies and mission objectives], making the game much easier than it could have been otherwise.
However, there is one quality that Arkadian Warriors possesses that makes it playable. All 12 of the game’s achievements are unlockable by simply playing through the game and don’t really require any strenuous effort on your part to unlock. For that reason, achievement hungry gamers may find this worth the 800 Microsoft points it costs. Fans of the hack ‘n slash genre may also be able to accept this shallow download for what it is as well, looking past its lack of options and depth.
For what it’s worth, Arkadian Warriors is a decent game that could have been so much better had its developers focused more on giving the game the personality, polish and brevity it needed to stand on its own two feet. Instead, it feels like a haphazard clone of a dozen other good games and leaves its owner wanting to play something else.