Arc: Twilight of the Spirits PlayStation 2
by Sony Computer Entertainment Europe
Developed by Sony Computer Entertainment Inc.
Released - 30th January 2004
Price : £39.99
If you're a fan of console RPGs then the PlayStation 2 is the definitely the console to own. The console, like the PSone before it, has been blessed with some quality titles that you just can't get on any other platform. Of course the stand out titles are the Final Fantasy games but there are so much more to choose from. Dark Chronicle was absolutely top notch and Kingdom Hearts was also superb. In fact you could say that it's a tough genre to make an impression in because of all the top quality competition. A RPG has to have that something special to stand out from the crowd on the PlayStation 2. Thankfully Arc: Twilight of the Spirits has that something special.
The games story is set around the brothers Kharg and Darc. They are no ordinary brothers though. The world in which they live sees humans and the creatures known as Deimos living uneasily at a distance from each other. The main bone of contention between the races are objects known as spirit stones. For years an uneasy peace has been maintained but that peace is now gone as a faction of the Deimos have begun attacking humans. It all seems straight forward until you find out that Kharg and Darc's mother is human and their father is Deimos. Both brothers are unaware of each other with Kharg appearing to be human and Darc appearing to Deimos and neither are aware of their mixed heritage. Throughout the game you'll switch between control of the two brothers and their various parties.
As far as the story goes it's full of twists and surprises but it's the combat that makes the game stand out as something different. Unlike a lot of console RPGs Twilight of the Spirits doesn't have those annoying random battles that serve to impede your progress. Battles do not occur whilst you are en route from one location to another and they can only occur at specific locations. The battles themselves are closer to those found in turn-based strategy games as you have to control the movement of the character as well as the melee/magic attack moves. This may seem awkward but it's actually very easy to understand and adds a lot more depth to the battles than you'd find in most console RPGs. The battles begin by letting you choose which party members you want to participate and you will also be notified of the victory conditions. During the battle your movement and attack radius are constantly shown which makes it easier to know your limitations. Because you control the movement of your characters you are also able to formulate strategies during a battle that games such as Final Fantasy do not allow for (Final Fantasy Tactics being the exception). You'll also find that you have to pick up the items that the fallen enemies drop during combat as once the battle is over you're unable to collect them.
Graphically Twilight of the Spirits isn't the most elaborate of RPGs on the PlayStation 2 but it certainly looks good. In fact, to be perfectly honest, the screenshots that you can see on the right hand side of the screen don't really do the game justice. The character models all look good and the different environments that you encounter whilst playing as either Kharg or Darc all look respectable. As you would expect the various magic spells are accompanied by some nice graphical effects but they're never completely over the top (or time consuming) like you find in some RPGs. You don't have any control over the camera in Twilight of the Spirits but this never causes a problem.
Twilight of the Spirits is absolutely fine for deaf gamers. In fact for most of the game there is hardly any speech. The game is subtitled, although not fully because the comments made by the characters during a battle are not shown in text. During the cutscenes the display reverts to a letterbox format and the subtitles are shown in the lower boarder. During the main game the text appears in a dialogue box with a picture of the character who is speaking placed alongside it so as you always know who is speaking, which is excellent. All information is shown in text so you're not going to miss anything which is brilliant news.
Arc: Twilight of the Spirits is a must for fans of either console RPGs or turn-based strategy. It's great to see a RPG add some much needed depth to the battles. The game is worth playing just to learn the story though and it's great to be able to play out both sides of the story and to witness the diversity of them. It's a fair bet that most PlayStation 2 RPG fans are awaiting the next episode in the Final Fantasy series but to miss out on Arc: Twilight of the Spirits would be criminal as it's one of the better RPGs on the console.
Game Rating: 8.7/10
Another fine RPG for the PlayStation that offers a great battle system and an interesting, and enjoyable, story.
Arc: Twilight of the Spirits is both accessible and enjoyable for deaf gamers.