Arcanum is a game that wouldn’t have been released in 2020. She has a lot of racism and oppression (everyone)

But she is beautiful in her own way.

Troika Games was founded by the developers of the first Fallout. They created just three games: The Temple of Elemental Evil, Arcanum and Vampire the Masquerade – Bloodlines. The last two are considered brilliant – but they were released too raw, overflowing with bugs, and the studio could not stand the failure. This is largely why not everyone knows about Arcanum, although it will be on any list of the greatest RPGs of all time.

In “Arcanum” there is a huge scope for wagering, but the main feature is the conflict of magic and technology
Even in 2020, “Arcanum” stands out among other RPGs with a unique system of magic and technology, on which everything in the game world was built and changed depending on the chosen path. In the universe of the game, magic conflicts with technology, so playing as a pure dwarf techie, you will not be able to use magic (even weapons with a magical effect), but an elf wizard cannot get on the train. That is, the train simply will not go if the magician tries to get into his first carriages – magic affects the steam engines of the car, and he will be kindly (not really) offered to sit in a distant carriage for people like him. In general, magicians have any technical thing falling apart in their hands, and techie merchants refuse to trade with them. The same situation is with a techie and a magician seller.

The game has a propensity for magic / technology scale. You can balance – the game allows you to be anyone, even a mediocre magician and technologist at the same time, but keep in mind that spell power depends on the scale. Usually the predisposition to one of the parties is initially influenced by the race – dwarves are taken to improve their technology, and elves, their complete opposite, are turned into pure magicians. It is almost impossible to become good in both specializations, because one will interfere with the other, and there will not be enough points for pumping.

There are no classes in the game, but there are eight primary characteristics (strength, physique, agility, beauty, intelligence, willpower, perception and charm), as well as the ability to choose a character backstory that will affect the distribution of points at the start. There are many, and most of them are available to everyone – for example, Legacy will give you double your starting money and -1 Willpower, while Ladies’ Man will add 6 points to Appearance, but will lower Strength, Constitution and Agility by two points. There are backstories that only certain races or gender can select – the Beauty School biography can only be selected by human women, and Factory Escape or Suppressed Orc can only be selected by half-orcs.

Obviously, the scope for roleplaying is huge, and there is no need to limit yourself to pure technical skills or magic, when you can play as a merchant, a thief, a necromancer. By the way, there are two types of necromancy, dark and light. The dark one is tied to the undead and on the powerful spell “Suppression of life”, which at high levels can take a shot at a weak opponent, and on the first spell that you can take even at the beginning of the game – it consumes two energy points, but does good damage. Light necromancy is needed rather by healers: to increase the health reserve, heal wounds, scare away the undead and resurrect an ally.

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Arcanum can be passed without killing (but why, if some NPCs are able to infuriate even a monk?), Pumping characteristics to convince the characters, or vice versa – to cut out everyone in your path, even Virgil, the starting partner-human who treats you well. what race you would not choose. And this is important – in the world of “Arcanum” you will encounter racism more than once.

Racism and conflict are another feature of the game. In 2020, she would be hated
This world has a long history of mutual hatred between peoples and entire races. The easiest way, as usual, is for people: other races react to them neutrally, which is important if you do not want to face racism from every NPC you meet. Arrogant elves treat other races with contempt, sometimes with hatred, and they have a separate branch of Dark Elves – those who promote the idea of ​​elven domination around the world. Dwarves are simple-minded, straightforward and simple-minded dwarfs, the exact opposite of elves, which is why they constantly have conflicts. They have a special wisdom – every thing or living being has a Stone (inner side) and a Form (outer), and the one who sees only the outer side is blind. And if the Stone is corrupted, then it must be destroyed, even if it has a beautiful Form. Well, are you filled with knowledge?

Two more pure races – gnomes and hobbits, not to be confused with dwarves. They are far from magic and technology, gnomes are born merchants, and hobbits are the best thieves in Arcanum.

There are also three races of mestizo: half-elves, half-ogres, and half-orcs. Oddly enough, half-elves are respected and valued more than elves, although undersized races will treat you badly. Although half-ogres are considered fools, they avoid conflicts with them: they are much stronger than other races. Most often they are used as bodyguards or recruited into bandits – in general, half-ogres play the role of a cheap killing machine with the intelligence of a child.

But when playing as a half-orc, everyone will hate you – and this is mutual. In the settlements of other races, half-orcs work in the most black jobs like scavengers, but in the orc clans they stand out for their intelligence, for which their brothers do not like them. They are considered extremely stupid creatures (although their intelligence attribute is not lower than humans!), But it’s even more interesting to play this way – making your way through open hostility and ridicule, your character can become a specialist in magic or technology, and will respond to mockery with a powerful weapon or spell. Who is funny now?

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Now about sexism. When passing for the girl, an additional quest will appear – men can complete the quests of the mistress of the brothel Madame Lil and receive a girl for the night as a reward, but the female character Madame will offer another job – yes, you understood correctly which one. (By the way, there is a lonely sheep in one of the brothel rooms … yes, there is a corresponding option in the game).

Similar discrimination occurs in the Gentlemen’s Club: a man will be admitted there without question, and a woman will have to sleep after paying for sex. Just in case, I clarify: you will pay, not you. And if you pump in external attractiveness and not pump intelligence, there will be much more harassment.

However, oppression works the other way too. All dialogues in the game balance between English courtesy with scuffling and a simulator of a trash-gopnik – when the ceremonies start to get boring, you can tell the interlocutor everything about his appearance, origin and magical / technological abilities. Unlike other RPGs, where options with persuasion and the beginning of the battle are highlighted with a different color or icon, in “Arcanum” you do not know what result the dialogue will lead to. So be careful when insulting high-level NPCs – they might start a fight. Here, as in a disadvantaged area of ​​the Russian hinterland in the 90s – you need to follow everything you say, otherwise you will face unpredictable consequences.

The most interesting little things – passing for an imbecile, armor of different sizes and your influence on the world
The best way to have fun in the game is to beat it as a half-ora with low intelligence, which is 4 points at the start. The developers were not too lazy and rewrote the entire diary and dialogues to play the fool (although it is strange that such a stupid creature can write at all, but these are trivialities).

Virgil will be a little upset that the Living One was reborn in the body of a fool, but in general he will treat normally and without mockery, explaining difficult things in simple language. The rest of the neutral residents will also try not to confuse you with long phrases.

Another difficulty that you will have is the search for beautiful armor of the right size. Yes, in “Arcanum” the clothes do not adapt to the character – how many of these games do you remember? Half-gram will have to look for large-sized clothes, humans, elves, half-elves and half-orcs use medium, and gnomes, dwarves and hobbits use small. And half-ogres cannot use a pistol due to their size – this is explained by the fact that their fingers are too large and they cannot pull the trigger.

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These are not all the chips in Arcanum. One of the most important for gameplay is the butterfly effect, in which your decisions will change the world. Take, for example, the starting location Misty Hills. Key characters: bandits who take tribute for crossing the bridge; the owner of the mine, which ran out of silver, but there is iron; a ghost in the mine, because of which even iron cannot be mined; a constable who asks to kill the bandits; an alchemist who is thwarted by a constable’s steam engine near his home; a possible bank robber and a tough guy who wants to stop the robber.

You can imagine the passage of all quests yourself. And the point is that all quests are interconnected, and there are dozens of possible endings. Here are just a few: if you kill the bandits, the ghost and the tough guy, then silver will be found in the mine again, and the city will become rich, but filled with criminals – while, if the tough guy survives, he will become the sheriff, and the city will be prosperous and peaceful. If you leave the bandits and the ghost alive, the city will decline and become empty. If you destroy the engine for the alchemist, then he will get rich, because he will find the formula for turning lead into gold.

Literally one alternative ending to the side quest will already change the future history of the city. And so – in each major location, of which there are more than 10 in Arcanum.

* * *

You can play Arcanum even in 2020 without any additional troubles (however, there is no Russian language in the Steam version). There are three localizations, one of which is from Fargus and a pack for HD graphics. There are not many high-quality games on steampunk, and Arcanum is one of the best, so you should definitely check it out if you haven’t played before. And for those who have crossed the mainland far and wide, I propose to tell in the comments about your favorite passage and give advice to beginners.

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