Aarklash: Legacy is an upcoming adventure strategy RPG being developed by Cyanide (Of Orcs And Men, Game of Thrones). We recently had the opportunity to get our hands on a preview build. Note that this does not represent the final product and some things may still change.
Based on the Confrontation figurine universe, Aarklash: Legacy puts you in command of a band of mercenaries. Known as “wheel swords,” these mercenaries are the hands that carry out the will of the guilds they serve and are grouped together in “quorps”. You’re initially given control of four such wheel swords – Nella, Denzil, Wendaroo, and Knokka.
Nella is a strong-willed mage. She’s the leader of the quarp and a fiend with a flame. Denzil is the group’s thief. He’s also the only goblin who’s been known to steal both for and from the Goldmonger’s guild. Wendaroo is a Wolfen with a truly canine ferocity. She’s also both a determined warrior and a fantastic healer. Of the initial quarp, that leaves only Knokka. She is almost a sort of free-willed golem, created by the Scorpion Fleshmages for the purpose of seeking out precious metals. She is the group’s tank and a heavy hitter with her great two-handed sword. You’ll get to meet up to four more as you progress through the game as well.
When the game opens, your quarp is retrieving an item from a wealthy lord that is owed to the Goldmongers’ Guild. When they have to fight their way out and reach him, they realize there’s something far more sinister going on than a man that didn’t want to pay his debts. This sets up a much more epic journey that our adventurers will have to undertake, and it will be no easy task.
Aarklash: Legacy will immediately feel somewhat familiar to some – especially fans of games like Baldur’s Gate or Icewind Dale. Like those classics, it’s an isometric role-playing game where you’re granted the ability to pause the action. Doing so allows you to assign commands to each member of your team. You’re then free to unpause the game and let action play out.
The way the combat is designed, halting the action will be required for nearly every encounter. You’ll want to make sure your tank is drawing fire, but you also want to ensure your entire party is working effectively to dismantle the foes at hand.
In a game with such an intense strategy element, knowledge is power. You’re granted the ability to look at each foe you face. Expanding on their portraits in the interface will let you see their special skills. More importantly, it lets you see their defensive strengths and weaknesses. This allows you to decide who to attack, in what order, and how. Not everything is cut-and-dry, as battle situations literally shift on the fly, so you have to constantly monitor the entire situation. It does a great job keeping the players engaged in combat while maintaining the feel of strategy over action.
Combat can be devilishly difficult at times. If you fail to size up an opponent correctly or you don’t use a particular skill in certain situations, it can turn the whole battle on its head. You can go from being handily on top of the situation one second to scrambling for your life the next.
For that very reason you need to make sure you’ve got everything ready to go before engaging in combat. This includes saving the game. Autosaves currently feel like they’re spaced too far apart, so if fail to save it yourself and get wrecked in an encounter, you could be retreading a lot of familiar ground.
Outfitting your team is going to be a constant endeavor. Finding treasure chests and taking out difficult enemies will reward you with a handful of rings, necklaces, and talismans. You’ll want to make sure each member of your quarp has what best suits their role equipped. Unfortunately, that’s the extent of outfitting your team as of right now. There are no weapons or armor you’ll get to work with, and that’s a little disappointing.
Skill progression is also a big part of how you’ll make your characters your own. Each character will get up to four skills at their disposal, but you can hone and customize these via the skill tree once its available. This presents a fantastic sense of making the characters your own while adapting them to fit your playstyle.
Storytelling is done through both written text and spoken dialog. The voice acting feels like they do a fine job of delivering their lines. Denzil and Wendaroo feel particularly well played, from the shady, high pitched goblin to the snarling, growling Wolfen warrior. There are no CG cutscenes. Everything is done with the game engine, and it works great.
The game looks fantastic at this stage. Characters are well animated, spells and attacks feel fluid and look fantastic, and environments are vibrant and lively. The interface is easy to deal with, too. Fans of those classic isometric titles looking for a modern twist will be pleased with Aarklash: Legacy.
There are some hidden goodies mixed into the game as well. You can find hidden treasure or rare, difficult fights that yield some fantastic prizes and challenges. These extra little flares show that the dev team isn’t just working to finish their title – they have a real love for the product they’re pouring themselves into. That’s an excellent, reassuring feeling.
Whether an old-school fan or a newcomer to games of this style, Aarklash: Legacy is definitely something worth getting excited about. The game looks and sounds fantastic, the characters are unique and fun, character customization will be deep enough to sink your teeth into, and the intense strategy gameplay will keep you coming back for more until the tale of the wheel swords has come to a close. Be sure to keep an eye out for this game when in the coming months. It’s currently set to be available to the public in September 2013, but it will be worth the wait. In the meantime, you can check out their official website and forums to see what’s going on.