Pop culture obsessives writing for the pop culture obsessed.
Pop culture obsessives writing for the pop culture obsessed.

Arc Rise Fantasia

Most of the characters you encounter in villages in Arc Rise Fantasia just have generic titles, like Gossipy Woman or Hurried Guard. While the playable characters do have names, they could just as easily be called Protagonist With Big Sword And Epic Destiny, Kind Prince, Girl With Mysterious Power, and so forth. With minimal personalities of their own, they fall into archetypes in an utterly generic JRPG.

You control L’Arc, a mercenary working to defend his home from monsters and dragons. He soon bands together with an unlikely group of friends and allies to try to restore balance to the world, using a mix of magic, weapons, and summoned allies to fight all sorts of evil foes. The unoriginal plot is delivered in cutscenes made agonizing by the flat, stilted voice acting and utterly boring dialogue. As you wander dungeons and the world map, you can periodically chat with your compatriots to learn more about them and the world, but nothing is particularly surprising or engaging.


One redeeming factor is the item system. As characters level up, they unlock new abilities in the weapons they wield, some of which can be removed and added to other characters’ weapons. Each character also has an orb, which can be modified to mix basic elemental affinities into hybrid types. Weapons and orbs have limited space for augmentations, so you’ll have to pick and choose the right balance.

Combat has a few twists on the standard turn-based system. Your actions are limited by a number of points that can be distributed between your three characters to attack, move, and use spells or items. Tactical movement helps you avoid having your whole team blasted by devastating area-of-effect attacks. You can devote all your points to having one character attack multiple times if their elemental affinity is particularly good in that situation, but it’s usually best to distribute actions so your characters can all build up their special moves. Most random encounters are trivially easy, but bosses hit like trucks. The result is a serious need to power-level and grind up enough gold to buy every upgrade you can and stock up on a bounty of healing items if you want a chance of even eking by. But when the reward for beating the next boss is just more bland gameplay, it just isn’t worth the effort.