Arc the Series
Most North American gamers are unfamiliar with the Arc the Lad series. In Japan, the Arc series has always been one of Sony’s self-published role playing games for PlayStation. The trilogy of Arc games spanning from 1995 to 1999 didn’t hit the PSone in English until Working Designs released its massive collection set in 2002. By then, however, the older RPGs felt extremely dated and were reserved for only the most hardcore/insane PSone gamer.
This past Spring, Sony in Japan published Arc the Lad’s debut on the PlayStation 2. Thankfully, Sony Computer Entertainment America decided to waste no time in bringing this new Arc stateside. In what may be one of the shortest RPG translations in recent history, Arc the Lad: Twilight of the Spirits was released in America just a few months after the Japanese release.
We’ve put in a good 40 hours into our copy to see it all, and we’re happy to say that it was time well spent.
Playing both sides
It all starts off simple enough – following the formula set by so many Japanese RPGs before it – with a young boy that’s quickly given the responsibility to thwart a Big Evil Plot. Actually, it’s two young boys… and one of them isn’t really a boy. You see, the world is divided between two oppositions: deimos (which are really just demons) and humans. Instead of just experiencing the story from a single perspective, the game play alternates the player’s point of view between Kharg (the human perspective) and Darc (the deimos perspective). Playing from both sides of the tale keeps things fresh and, predictably, the two paths eventually converge.
Our hero, Kharg
Our antihero, Darc
As expected, these two sides are at odds with each other and are planning to wipe one another out for the sake of peace. The bone of contention between the two is a limited resource called spirit stones. The humans use spirit stones as a source of energy and the deimos use them to fuel their magic. In addition to the ‘vanilla’ spirit stones, a group of five very special Great Spirit Stones composed of Wind, Earth, Fire, Water, and Light (just one off from calling Captain Planet) gives infinite power to the one who gathers them all. Naturally, everyone is out to catch ‘em all as if the Great Spirit Stones were pocket monsters.