FeaturedPC

Review: Arcadia Fallen Lets You Be ‘Yourself’

0
Review: Arcadia Fallen Lets You Be "Yourself"

Crowdfunded games tend to be titles that attempt to offer something different. They sometimes feel like they might not exist otherwise. Galdra Studio’s Arcadia Fallen is that sort. It attempts to take people on an adventure while challenging them with some puzzles and offering opportunities to bond with (and romance) allies. However, it also provides a chance to shape a protagonist’s personality with answers, have multiple “correct” answers, and shape a story while letting someone be themselves. While it might not be entirely revolutionary, it accomplishes its goals and tells an interesting story.

An alchemist’s apprentice lives in a small town, helping their mentor make potions for the community. However, since this is a world where people are suspicious and apprehensive, sometimes even fearful, about magic, it isn’t exactly peaceful. Some people are afraid of the two of them, as well as the nature mage running a local flower shop. After stepping in to assist a mysterious young woman being harassed, they end up bound to her. Turns out she is a spirit named Mime. Not only does this put a target on the alchemist apprentice’s back, but it results in them getting caught up in troubles around the town. Turns out only they and the group of friends they recruit could save the day.

arcadia fallen

Arcadia Fallen is a visual novel with matching puzzles when creating recipes or encountering demons. Which means a lot of reading and many choices. You’re constantly picking responses in conversations. Sometimes, they’re especially notable. When that happens, the gravitas of the moment is cited with a note letting you know “this choice matters.” When you do get these choices, you often don’t really start seeing things pay off until later chapters or the endgame. The warning is helpful. But I sometimes felt like that took me out of the moment. You’re going from responses that come up naturally to a change in perspective and extra font letting you know “this one counts.” Given the genre, I go in expecting every decision is going to count in some way. So it broke my immersion. However, I could see people unfamiliar with visual novels or adventure games appreciating the alert.

The problem with Arcadia Fallen ends up being that when so many answers can be the “right” answer, it feels like you have less influence. Yes, there are telltale moments when you’ll be told that decision will matter. You’ll see that your decision will influence people’s future actions. Or that it might affect a relationship. But beyond that, choosing any option under “romance” when you choose that response will gain a favorable response. While personality traits are tied to certain responses, it can feel like it doesn’t change the actual story and instead just… changes others’ responses in that moment. It does allows for more personalization. Yet it didn’t leave me feeling like it left much impact for more general conversations. When every answer is a “right” answer, it feels like a bit of the challenge is absent. Going to the Companions page in the menu also doesn’t allow you to see how fond someone is of you. Also, while making certain choices involve different personality traits and responses coming up, there’s no page to check which traits are most prominent for your current protagonist.

Arcadia Fallen

Which isn’t necessarily totally bad. Arcadia Fallen makes you feel like you get to have an opinion. Right from the very beginning, even. You choose your avatar’s body type, pronouns, hairstyle, color scheme, voice, and name. You can even return to the Options menu at any time to adjust your choices. And you do get to at least make yourself sound like, well, the character you’re choosing to play. There are also certain actions you can take that influence the course of events. You could event undertake supplemental challenges like committing crimes or learning every alchemy recipe.

Speaking of the inclusivity above, Arcadia Fallen is a game with a lot of positive representation. You can choose who you are, with many different options. People in-game span a variety of races and identities. Characters’ pronouns are respected. You can also romance every person who is a love interest, regardless of your body type/pronouns. And while general “people” in game aren’t accepting of demons (for good reason), magic, and spirits, they seem otherwise okay with folks being themselves in other ways.

Galdra Studios

The game also has a great look and sound to it. A lot of notable voice actors appear. For example Allegra Clark, Erica Lindbeck, Joe Zieja, Laura Post, Alejandro Saab, Sean Chiplock, and Sarah-Nicole Robles are all here. They’re all good at what they do, as you might expect. I just wish there was more of them. The voice acting is rather sparse. For the most part, you’ll be hearing the same snippets over lines of text, rather than unique dialogue. Character art is detailed and consistent. Which is especially nice when you can customize your avatar a bit. I’m not a fan of the theme song personally, but appreciated the effort.

The same could be said for the minigame. It varies in difficulty. Actually putting together alchemy recipes is often incredibly easy. There’s little challenge, due to few ingredient limits. Only “explosive” properties hold you back from certain actions. And even then, their consequences only mean restarting. You can add what you want. Which means the solution can be as simple as turning the outer gears until they match, rather than needing to fiddle with arrangements, placements, and both inner and outer circle spinning for the correct combinations.

Galdra Studios

But the story-specific Spirit Locket puzzles are far more taxing. The demon sealing segments involve matching colors. They aren’t too challenging to start. Though eventually, you get to situations where certain sigils need to be in specific positions for each of the nine different slots. Which is where the accessibility can fall apart. For example, there is one puzzle in which the sigils “glow” when they are in the correct positions. But given the nature of it, I’d wonder if it is colorblind-friendly. (Though given the solution, it isn’t too much of an issue.)

But what Arcadia Fallen is good at is establishing its cast. Your allies are very personable. They have their fine points and flaws, as well as secrets. You have chances to talk with them every chapter. (Each opportunity also involves romance options.) When on the town map, they’ll even talk to one another. So you won’t just see how they socialize during the story. These little quips feel like the sort of banter you’d encounter in an RPG. Especially since they are voiced.

Arcadia Fallen

Arcadia Fallen feels like something of an experiment. It tests the limits of how much freedom you can allow a player, in terms of responses, while still making things feel like you’re making a difference. The result is that the more frequent responses don’t offer the impression of carrying much weight. Meanwhile, the choices that do matter almost break the immersion a bit by how much they stand out. Still, the character designs are good, your allies stand out, and the effort that went into the game is obvious. It’s the sort of game that people who enjoy should give a try.

Arcadia Fallen is available for PCs. It will also head to the Nintendo Switch. A PC demo is available. .

Arcadia Fallen

7

Food for Thought
  • You could probably finish Arcadia Fallen in a single evening if you put your mind to it. My first playthrough lasted under five hours.
  • One thing that annoyed me is that the background of the scene's perspective shifts depending on where the mouse currently is. I'd have preferred a static background.
    If you want to know more, check out Siliconera's review guide.
    Jenni Lada
    Jenni is Editor-in-Chief at Siliconera and has been playing games since getting access to her parents' Intellivision as a toddler. She continues to play on every possible platform and loves all of the systems she owns. (These include a PS4, Switch, Xbox One, WonderSwan Color and even a Vectrex!) You may have also seen her work at GamerTell, Cheat Code Central, Michibiku and PlayStation LifeStyle.