Video Game: Arcanum: Of Steamworks & Magick Obscura
is an expansive and very open-ended Role-Playing Game
where Tolkienian High Fantasy
meets Vernian Steam Punk
, courtesy of the designers
behind the first two Fallout
Much of Arcanum
deals with Item Crafting
and character building — many of the items in the game can be used to build other items and The Dev Team Thinks of Everything
. It contains a very detailed setting and a well-designed scenario, as well as vast
amounts of political backstory in the game's libraries, newspapers and legends. The game retains a cult following similar to its cousin Fallout
, and is additionally often very favorably compared to Baldur's Gate II
and Planescape: Torment
, although Arcanum
's detail focuses more on its setting's history and mechanisms than on its playable characters.
The IFS Zephyr
has just begun her maiden voyage, a marvelous, high-society venture through the clouds. Aboard, the cream of high society enjoys the flight, playing chess, sipping fine wine, etc. Sadly, nothing gold can last forever — and, out of the blue, the airship is attacked by a pair of ogres flying primitive fighter planes. Within moments, the vessel goes down in flames.
There's only one survivor, the player character — and, as they crawl out of the wreckage, a dying gnome begs them to take his ring
to "the boy". The player character soon meets a man named Virgil, who claims to have found the reincarnation of a long lost prophet... and that's where the story properly takes off.
The player can join up with a large amount of playable characters. Although their personalities are often not as well-defined as those of some non-playable characters in the game, many of them are (very nicely) voiced, and they all contribute to the plot and interact with each other. Many of them are hidden, and many of them require very specific alignment, charisma stats and dialogue from the player before they even suggest joining the party. Similarly, the player often needs to meet very specific aptitude requirements before certain quests are even mentioned, meaning that no two playthroughs are the same and that each new player character will have a unique experience.Arcanum
has a level cap of 50, which encourages players to specialize in very specific types of magic or technology. (However, a no-CD-patch combined with a level cap remover patch can quickly fix that.) Uniquely, knowledge of technology in Arcanum
disables magical aptitude, and vice versa, so that the player will always have to choose between the two (or find a very, very careful balance) and (eventually) be shunned by the other branch.
Remarkably, the game is still being tested and patched by a squadron of devoted fans today. A new release by Good Old Games is now available
, with the notorious bugs fixed and the game adapted to modern systems.
A sequel — titled Journey to the Centre of Arcanum
and using Half-Life 2
's Source engine — was in its initial planning stages
, but Sierra and Valve had disagreements, and Troika Games
' dissolution sealed the game's fate.
This game provides examples of the following: