I recently had a chance to play the demo of Arcania: Gothic 4. Being new to the Gothic series, I decided to do a little research on its history. As it turns out, it has never been the most well received series. Putting this from my mind, I jumped into the demo.
The player character is sleeping on a rock before a woman comes up to him and wakes him. Once the conversation initiates, the camera zooms in dangerously close the character’s faces, Mass Effect style. Still like ME, you can choose from multiple responses, though at first you only get one.
Unlike Mass Effect however, the faces are really ugly. The facial animations look choppy and unnatural, very unpleasant. She says little more than someone in the village is looking for you and then takes off. As she leaves you get this really odd feeling, like why was she here in the first place or who is she. You then get to control the character and boy is he slow.
Very, very slow. I felt like it took me an age to cross the long grass field to the village. The graphics in the environment seemed fairly well done, though some textures were spotty and the NPCs simply don’t seem to be rendered very well. On the way I played with the controls which are not very well done.
I ran up to some of the sheep that had been grazing and began swinging my combat staff. If you thought he ran slowly, just wait until he starts swinging his weapon. By the time he makes one full strike with it, the sheep will have ran all the way across the meadow.
They also easily outran him and so I gave up trying to kill them pretty early. After arriving at the village and finding whom I needed to speak with, which was rather easy given the large exclamation point over his head, I learned that the girl who woke me was actually a love interest.
It’s a shocking realization since from the opening dialogue I would have guessed that she was a cousin or sister. Either way, the man you’re speaking with is her father and before you marry her you must engage a special task. He gives you a key and asks you to go defeat a man in the forest and bring his weapon as proof.
By the end of the demo you will remember this moment as the beginning of a painfully long, boring and plain irritating string of unsatisfying and baseless fetch quests. Into the forest you trot, noticing the uninspiring characters and locations as you go. You meet the man in the forest and as it turns out you and him are good friends.
He agrees to leave and give you an old weapon of his if you can beat him in a duel. So it commences and he seems to just stand there while you meaninglessly mash the attack button. Judging from this, the combat is a complete chore. His ridiculous speed, the repetitive swinging motion, the irritating thumping sound when a hit connects, it is just all bad.
After a couple seconds of this, he says you win and tells you to go kill some goblins. After you do that, and it is incredibly boring, he leaves and gives you the weapon. You take it back to you girl’s dad and he tells you to go get a present for his daughter.
You then go speak to an orc who has something to make a gift with, but he wants mushrooms in return. He then tells you were they are, gives you a key for a door you’ll encounter and agrees to trade you if you find enough. Sound familiar? It should. It’s another fetch quest.
So off you go collecting mushrooms, having absolutely no fun whatsoever all along. You bring them back and trade the orc, and then give the amber to a man in the village to craft a gift with. The girl’s father then tells you to go get (fetch boy!) a man who lives near a waterfall for one reason or another, and off you go again.
Once you find him, and oddly enough he’s the same man you were told to run away, he gives you an item and tells you to take it to a witch. By this time I was convinced that counting grass would have been more entertaining. You find the witch and her voice is just awful. Come to think of it, the voice acting in general is just not good or believable in anyway.
Anyway she tells you to close your eyes, and your character does and when you awaken you are in a cave. The witch is now laughing maniacally. She has magically transported you to this hidden cave and she acts as though she’s about to torture you. After a few moments, you learn that’s exactly what she’s going to do; she gives you another fetch quest.
She wants you to explore the cave and bring her 6 dead beetles. By the end of the demo I was disgusted. I had heard of demos providing more fun than their full realizations, but this is the first time I’ve ever played a demo that I was convinced was less fun than the actual game. Seriously, this is the segment they chose to demonstrate how good their game is? This is supposed to make people want to buy it? All I can say is that I hope the full game is more enjoyable than this demo because if it isn’t, I don’t envy whoever’s going to spend sixty big ones on it. Of course, this is only a demo and everything in it is subject to change. Who knows what the final product will be like?