Arcanum: Of Steamworks and Magick Obscura

You were on a blimp that got shot down by aeroplanes. Yes, aeroplanes, blimps and other technologies are in this world of magic. Grab your sword or your gun and travel the world of Arcanum to find out why people want you dead.

Release Date

August 2001.

Pros

As you level up and get character points to upgrade your character, you can choose to upgrade by yourself, like Fallout, or choose one of the auto-level schemes. The auto-level scheme is pretty much setting a character class that you want your character to grow good at and the game will upgrade your character accordingly.

Also similar to Fallout is the big sense of freedom. Almost everyting has choices including how to talk to people and how to solve quests. In the beginning your choices are quite limited though, because a lot of them just leads to a quick death.

In combat there is the targeted attack similar to Fallout where you can choose to attack the head, arms or legs. Not quite as many options as Fallout but still good.

What little speech there is in the game sounds very good.

Variety is a strong point with Arcanum. The whole technology mixed with magic gives more stuff to play with and in an interesting way.

Cons

The stylised font and some very small font text makes the game difficult to read. There is a High Resolution Patch which can fix some of the fonts, but there are still other parts that remain difficult to read.

There are not enough shortcut keys. Sure there are some but there aren’t even keys to turn the pages of the journal, which you need to do a lot.

The game has got complex mechanics and takes quite a while to learn. If you increase the wrong stats or pick the wrong class, it can make the game very difficult in the beginning. It took me four restarts before I could get out of the first town. Even after that I was dying quite frequently from tough encounters. I restarted again setting the difficulty to easy and it was still difficult.

There is a bug where all of a sudden you cannot loot anything. Unfortunately for me, even when I loaded an old game I still could not loot anything, so time to start a new game again! Before starting again I installed the Unofficial Patch.

There is another bug where sometimes after you load a game, the sound disappears for a while.

There are some treasures that look like loot to be sold, but they were required to progress the game. I sold all found loot except things I could use, so I sold off these important treasures. Dungeons do not respawn monsters and loot so I was stuck. Although this may not be a con in other people’s eyes, it annoyed me so much I stopped playing the game.

Other Points

Like Fallout, there is a limit to how far you can scroll the main screen away from your character. So if you want to look at something far away, you must move your character nearby.

The journal records quests for you, but like Might and Magic VI, it does not record enough information. You might want to take your own notes.

Combat can be fought in real-time or turn based. Arcanum does not have the flexibility of Baldur’s Gate to trigger turn based mode automatically though.

The main story is OK, but definitely not as good as Fallout. Due to the difficulty of the game I find that the story flows more like Might and Magic VI, where you have to complete quite a lot of side quests before you can continue the main story quests. As such, I tend to lose track of the main story.

Biases

Reviewed GOG.com version of the game followed by the Unofficial Arcanum Patch v091225. I installed the patch and restarted the game after I hit the cannot loot bug.

Screen shots were taken with the High Resolution Patch in place, but using the original game resolution of 800×600. I could not stand the difficult reading.

I really liked Fallout, SWTOR, Might and Magic VI, Torchlight, Oblivion, and Baldur’s Gate 1, 2 plus expansions.

I also liked Dark Messiah of Might and Magic, Lands of Lore 3, Might and Magic 3, 4 and 5.

I did not like Styrateg.

I have not completed the game.

DRM

The game is DRM free from GOG.com

Minimum Requirements (as stated on GOG.com)

  • Windows XP or Windows Vista
  • 1 GHz Processor (1.4 GHz recommended)
  • 256MB RAM (512 recommended)
  • 3D graphics card compatible with DirectX 7 (compatible with DirectX 9 recommended)
  • Mouse, Keyboard

Computer Played On

  • Windows 7 64 bit.
  • Intel Core i5 2.3GHz
  • 4Gb RAM
  • NVIDIA GeForce GT 525M 1Gb RAM
  • Conexant SmartAudio with egg speakers or earphones. Or Logitech G35.
  • Graphics settings are set to whatever I feel comfortable with playing on this PC. They are usually not set to the highest settings. All screenshots are taken with my settings.

Recommended Mods

High Resolution Patch – Allows to setup the game to different resolutions and also improves some of the text so it is easier to read.

Unofficial Patch – Fixes a whole bunch of stuff. Not sure if it fixes the cannot loot bug, but I am hoping so.

 

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