"Life is anything but black and white; good or bad. Things are much more complicated, and in Arc the Lad: Twilight of the Spirits (ATL:TOTS), they make that lesson very apparent. Instead you are thrown into a world where two races believe the other to be evil, and two people that tie them together. While they are of the same blood, you quickly learn that how they were raised effected their attitudes. Learning the traits of these protagonists is what makes Arc the Lad go on, and turns the newest i..."
Life is anything but black and white; good or bad. Things are much more complicated, and in Arc the Lad: Twilight of the Spirits (ATL:TOTS), they make that lesson very apparent. Instead you are thrown into a world where two races believe the other to be evil, and two people that tie them together. While they are of the same blood, you quickly learn that how they were raised effected their attitudes. Learning the traits of these protagonists is what makes Arc the Lad go on, and turns the newest installment the best game of the Arc the Lad series.
The first thing you will see in the game are it's graphics, which stand out more than most RPG's. Besides only Final Fantasy X, they are the best I have seen recently, as each character has his or her own distinct look, and the environments are definite eye-candy. The only weakness is that there aren't too many cities throughout the game to view, so while each is vastly different from the last, you will wish there were more.
Everything in ATL:TOTS is based upon one innovative principle: The ability to control two protagonists on and off throughout the entire story. While they do come in contact a few times, they spend most of the game far apart and with their own particular cast of characters. You initially start controlling the human, Kharg. He is the typical RPG protagonist, friendly, thought highly of in small community. In his community they use spirit stones for energy to control mechanics. The first chapter is in many ways a learning experience, and introduce you to two of the main characters on Kharg's half of the storyline.
Battling with Kharg's crew is very simple. You can either attack, use special attack, use item, or run; fairly typical RPG tactics now-a-days. The special attacks are used by spirit stones that you have saved up (which you can either purcase, or pick up after defeating an enemy). Each time you use a special attack you lose a certain amount of spirit stones, which will discourage you from using special attacks unless needed. Special attacks arrange from being offensive, defensive, restorative or status changing (for example some can raise attack or speed for a character). They will be very useful in later battles.
Battles are not random like most games, but are engaged in when you enter an area on the world map. Therefore you can battle as much as you want while travelling the world map and level up if needed, but you will also be able to try to rush through to your next destination with as few battles as possible. Once you enter a location battles are all predetermined, and most of the time involve a cutscene along with them to develop the story.
Battling is straight forward, as each character will have a set range he is able to move in. After you move your character to the location of your choice you can attack with your characters weapon of choice (for every character has a weapon of choice, for example Maru's bow has a long thin range that isn't very powerful but can hit four characters at once, while Kharg's sword is short ranged). You will need to strategize to figure out what method is best to hit the most characters at once, but after awhile you'll be able to execute this in seconds. After you kill an enemy, he will likely drop gold/item/spirit stones, in which to pick them up you will need to stand on their locations before the battle is over. It is turned based, but your agility will determine how many times you get up to battle. All of this will require you to use tactics and decision making, but once you get the knack for it, it turns out to be quite simple.
So your done battling with Kharg, and after the emotional start to the game you will learn that the humans hate the Deimos. Deimos are creatures that have evolved from monsters to resemble humans slightly, but typically with vast differences. They steal spirit stones for humans, because spirit stones are what provide magic to the Deimos, which leads directly to Darc (Kharg's brothers) story.
Darc is a Deimos being raised as a slave and is frequently criticized because he is a ''wannabe Deimos''. THis follows Darc throughout the story. Similiar to Kharg, you will quickly discover a few other characters that will become involved in Darc's part of the storyline, but unlike Kharg, they are much more viscious and less trustworthy. Only the strong survive in the Deimos world, so it becomes quickly obvoius that the key is to make Darc become as strong as possible.
Battling with Darc is basically exactly the same with Kharg, except that special attacks are exchanged with magic. They both have nearly the same exact purposes, so there is no learning curve when controlling Darc. However, Darc's storyline is drastically more difficult than Kharg's, so you will need to drastically level up throughout the time. However, with the vast paced battle system this doesn't get to annoying.
So for the rest of the game you will switch back and forth between the two protagonists, gaining allies, special attacks, leveling up, and just working towards your final goal. The storyline grows as it goes on, until it becomes a battle against an entire empire, and each character has his own little storyline involved within. There is also two hidden characters in ATL:TOTS, but they are extremely difficult to get, but if you have the time it is worth the effort.
Working through Arc the Lad will take sometime, for if you play through everything it will take about fifty hours. However, it will not feel that long and you will spend through the game. It is a great experience, with an awesome storyline, great battle system, and spectacular graphics. Trust me, you need to pick up Arc the Lad: Twilight of the Spirits, or you will be missing out on an excellent game.
Community review by ratking (March 06, 2004)
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