Arcanum: Wolf-smacking with Virgil

rumors(This is part of my journey playing through Arcanum.  You can follow the entire series on the Nostalgia Lanes page.)

Because you can’t talk about Arcanum without speaking of bugs, the game glitched hard on me at the end of yesterday’s play session and stopped responding after I tabbed out.  I wasn’t very far into the game at all, true, but it made me very uneasy.  I’m going to be alt-tabbing a lot in this series and I need to know it’s not going to crash.  I did take some commenters’ advice and applied a few fan mods and patches to improve the experience.

I did have to restart, and after a little bit of research, I decided to give myself a melee weapon as well as a gun (for a backup) and change my background to “Child of a Hero” for that free, free +1 sword.

After going through the off-kilter and somewhat amusing voiced conversation with Virgil again, I take a couple of minutes to get acquainted with the interface.  It’s very good, especially for an older RPG, and lavishly done in a Victorian/steampunk style.  I especially appreciate the journal that helps me keep the story straight.  For now, however, it’s time to explore the crash site and see what I can fight/loot.

The map is also pretty great, in that you can look at the larger area and scroll around to see where you need to go.  Did I mention the inventory auto-sorting tool?  All in all, I’m liking this.

There are a LOT of dead bodies on the ground and a few wolves to boot, and I salvage everything I can.  A camera is particularly interesting, and it’s nice to find a handful of gold now that I’m penniless.

interfaceThe game is displayed in an isometric format with characters being slightly fuzzy pre-rendered models.  I generally like the aesthetic here, although combat felt a little weak to me the first time I started swinging away at a wolf.

It’s not a particularly exciting area.  You mainly go around killing wolves and kites (kobold-like dudes) and seeing if the next corpse has anything.  Which it usually doesn’t.  Although I find this cherry of a letter on a dame:

letterWell good thing you spelled out where I can find this guy so that I can break his heart!  That’ll be a definitely-not-awkward conversation I’m going to have to have in the future.  Appreciate that.

ogreVirgil and I come across the wreckage of one of the fighters that attacked the zeppelin and find out that there’s a dead ogre with a strange amulet lying there.  Lots of questions this game is setting up from the get-go.

At least combat isn’t too difficult.  I’m sticking with my +1 enchanted sword for the time being, because bullets are money and I still need to get my skills up there.  Nothing is too difficult, and it helps that Virgil can heal us.  That’s handy.

We head into a nearby cave and I’m immediately eating my words that combat isn’t too bad.  I have a string of critical misses that end up carving off half of my health against sewer rats and completely breaking my armor.  So now I’m running around in my boxers like the stud I am, all for your enjoyment.  And then on the next fight I miss and scar myself, decreasing my beauty rating.  OH NO NOT MY BEAUTY.

This is why God invented the “load game” because I’m not going around as a scarred, half-naked freak 20 minutes into this game.  Let’s try that again.

Our next time around is even worse, with Vigil getting killed and me falling unconscious because I used up my blue fatigue bar.  Oh yes, you can faint in combat in this game.  Swell.

Try #3!

helpmeIt goes much better this time around.  Despite dropping my sword at one point — d’oh! — we kick the sewer rats’ teeth in and thoroughly loot the cave.  Lots of goodies here, including a pistol and more bullets.  Oh, and a ghost that’s in pain or somesuch.  “Oh, go kill this priest who cursed me so I can be freeee!” he whines.

Why should I take his word for it?  He’s a ghost, maybe he’s just playing on my sympathies to do some harm from the great beyond.  But oh well, taking this sword means that I have to be goody-goody, so I will swallow my suspicions and help him out.



3 thoughts on “Arcanum: Wolf-smacking with Virgil

  1. pkudude99 September 4, 2013 / 4:34 pm

    Yeah, that cave …. that’s why I never went gunslinger. I’d always run out of ammo in there and couldn’t get any more and couldn’t fight without ammo to be able to get money to afford ammo. . . .catch-22’s abound!

  2. Rubel September 5, 2013 / 2:21 am

    Loved that game! My main time in there was as a debutante (free elegant dress!) who fell back on a pistol and a rapier when things got rough. My sweettalker also developed sticky fingers, so I had fun doing the thieving quests in town.

    I agree, combat is a little weird. There is so much that works well within it, however, from time/space magic to swordfighting…I think it proves itself eventually. I hope you enjoy it, too.

  3. Lani September 5, 2013 / 6:10 am

    I hope the patches help 🙂
    I remember the scars, I reloaded for the same issue, until one time I didn’t notice immediately that I had a huge disfiguring scar running from my hairline all the way to my chin and had gone on for about an hour and found a Monofilament Sword. Decided that was worth a -1 scarring.

    Do follow up on the ghost quest, it’s got some interesting twists and you’re not wrong in your thoughts on it so far…

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