Arkandian Legends: Crusade is a turn-based RPG from developer Undefined. You may recognise the name Undefined. This is the developer responsible for the hugely popular Protector series of tower defence games. It is no surprise therefore to discover that defence style missions make an appearance in Arkandian Legends: Crusade.
But this is a far more ambitious game than Undefined's previous efforts - it is one of the longest casual RPGs you will find on the web, featuring no less than 60 story quests. And these are in addition to the defence missions mentioned already.
Arkandian Legends: Crusade is likely to appeal to fans of old-style RPGs who love nothing more than an evening of relentless exploration and grinding. If you are seeking something more modern or innovative - such as provided by Toxers - you might be disappointed. The game's storyline comes straight out of the book of RPG cliches - you're an adventurer on a mission to defeat the demon hordes. Oh yawn.
The tile-based graphics used for the game's environments hardly set the pulse racing either. I have a funny feeling I've seen almost identical sprites before, perhaps in this game. A game developer friend suggests that they are from the popular RPG Maker software. Nothing wrong with this if true but it would have been nice to see some custom tiles.
Perhaps worst of all however, given Undefined's pedigree in this area, is that the defense quests aren't much fun, at least not for me.
So that's the bad. Now for the good. The game's biggest selling point is its size. There's a veritable mountain of things to do, hundreds of weapons, spells and special items to collect and tons of locations to explore. We're talking several hours of immersive game-play here.
You are also provided with plenty of options for customising your character. The game directs you towards the three standard character classes of rogue, mage or warrior but there is nothing to stop you mixing and matching as you feel fit. I played a rogue who was also a dab hand at unleashing vicious spells, and who could hold his own in a sword battle.
In a nice graphical touch, the game changes the appearance of your character depending on what he or she is wearing or holding.
The story quests - which make up the meat of the game - are varied and generally entertaining, providing access to ever better weapons and items and, of course, more powerful enemies as you progress through the game. You also get to visit loads of different locations, including the obligatory dungeons. Exploring the dungeons is quite exciting, especially when you find a new item or treasure.
When you choose to do a story quest, you are presented with a world map of possible locations to go adventuring. Before setting out on most quests, you need to have enough cash to pay for provisions and travelling fees. If you ever run out of money, there are some basic missions you can do for free, allowing you to earn enough money to fund a paid quest.
On quests, you are bound to come up against enemies. The fighting is turn-based with heavy, medium and light attacks available to you, your chance of making a successful strike decreasing the more powerful your attack. As you level up, your hit percentages rise too, you'll be pleased to hear. Players can attack with weapons, cast spells, use items (mainly healing potions) or defend on their turns.
The turn-based fighting is fairly simple to figure out, but that does not mean that it is easy. In fact, as the game goes on the enemies start to get very difficult to beat.
The defense missions work in a different way to the story ones. They take place on a six-by-six grid battlefield. The missions start with players placing their character on the board. Then the enemies start moving towards your character. Every turn you move your character and the enemy moves his. Your characters will attack any enemies within range of them at the end of your turn. If the enemy reaches your side of the grid, then you lose.
The adventure quests and defense missions make up the majority of the game, but there are plenty of other little touches to enrich your playing experience. You can decorate your home, construct items and spells and trade items. You can also hire soldiers to help you out on the defense quests (to be honest, they're vital if you want to stand a chance on anything but the easiest defence missions). You can equip your soldiers the same way you do yourself, ensuring that all that extra equipment you collect need not go to waste.
Arkandian Legends: Crusade might not bring much new to the RPG genre but what the game does it does well. And for fans of retro western RPGs, the game's impressive line-up of quests, huge number of monsters and items and challenging turn-based battling should keep them enthralled for many hours. Play the game here.
If you enjoyed this game, then you are in luck, because Arkandian Legends: Crusade is set to be the first in a series of three games. Watch this space for news of when the next one comes out.