Title: Arc the Lad R
Release Date: May 11, 2021
Reviewed On: iOS
Publisher: Boltrend Games
Genre: Gacha Tactical RPG
Knowing what recently happened to Arc the Lad R, developed by AltPlus, it’s almost a sad story to know this game’s potential future already. The Japanese servers closed in June 2021 only after 3 years. While it’s not set in stone, we essentially might only see those three years of content on global servers and nothing beyond that, unless publisher Boltrend Games has something up their sleeve. It’s not the greatest way to start your global launch, but there’s at least something here for Arc the Lad fans while it lasts.
Arc the Lad R takes place ten years after Arc the Lad II, where half the world’s population was eliminated. Beyond that semi-cool connection, we jump back into familiar JRPG tropes you’ve more than likely seen plenty of times before.
Players take on the role of Halt, a soldier who rescues a girl with some sort of special power and knowledge of a dangerous threat. The narrative is largely forgettable. Any advancements in meeting new characters are severely diminished due to the questionable translation of the game. Some bits of dialogue contextually don’t make a lot of sense where I had to re-read them to understand what happened. There’s also a ton of blank space left in some speech bubbles depending on the length of the sentence, which looks sloppy. If you’re a fan of the original titles, there’s something here in the form of short individual character stories, but that’s it.
Gameplay in Arc the Lad R goes back to its familiar tactical RPG roots, where you move your units across a grid and attack enemies with basic attacks or skills. It’s literally that straightforward. In terms of the actual “tactics,” there doesn’t seem to be any aside from asking yourself when you should play on auto-battle.
Even though we’re in the early stages of the game, and there aren’t many chapters released, you can blow through quite a lot of its content without having to worry about what kind of unit you have as long as they’re properly leveled. I know many gacha games are like that, but the gameplay feels super repetitive and does nothing to keep anything fresh.
I don’t feel inclined to switch units depending on enemy type or rewards I get. However, you do get plenty of opportunities and materials to power up your squad, so you honestly shouldn’t be running into any pay to win walls at this time.
While the developers probably implemented the original mechanics of previous Arc the Lad titles, they could have really benefitted from implementing some new ideas. Honestly, I was expecting a tad more, especially when comparing this experience to my time with War of the Visions: Final Fantasy Brave Exvius. Sure, its gameplay is simple enough, but there’s a lot more variety and customization of my units when approaching a fight. I never got that feeling with Arc the Lad R.
I grew quickly tired of the visuals. I fully understand wanting to keep the original artistic essence, but this is a bit much. The characters are modeled as if they were for the original PlayStation. They look massively dated and uninteresting. Even the effects of different skills and attacks during battle are underwhelming.
The actual battlefields seem so bland and muddy. The only thing I can commend is the backdrops during cutscenes look amazing. They remind me of some of the well-detailed CGI environments produced similar to Final Fantasy VIII.
Arc the Lad R is a disappointing experience whether you play any of the PVP or PVE modes. Auto-battle will get you through most encounters, but this is as barebones as you get. It’s sad to see such a memorable series be reduced to this gacha element, but it’s still nice to be playing an Arc the Land game in 2021.
Luckily, you won’t have to spend much on premium currency since the game is generous with its gacha pulls and necessary items. However, what does it matter when the end is already in sight.
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