Arc of Alchemist is a JRPG published by Idea Factory — the folks behind some of my favorite niche games in the genre, like Death end re;Quest and Fairy Fencer F: Advent Dark Force — that’s unfortunately more interesting on paper than in practice. Like many Idea Factory RPGs before it, the opening hours are littered with tutorials and overly verbose cutscenes, but unlike said games that feature wonderful characters and interesting concepts, Arc of Alchemist is just an outright trainwreck.
Here you play as Quinn, a normal girl born to a normal family with an equally normal upbringing, who loses her father in the war and her mother to some sort of illness. The game takes place on Earth after some catastrophic event leaves the planet a desert wasteland where Quinn and her expedition team rummage for supplies and explore in search of some mysterious power.
Rather than easing you into the cast of characters and the history of the world, Arc of Alchemist bombards you within the first 10 minutes and gives you seven playable characters at the jump. You’re smack in the middle of the desert, combing for supplies, building a base using a clumsy menu-based mini-game, and fumbling your way through its awkward combat system between pages and pages of textualized tutorials. It’s… not fun, to say the least.
It’s an action RPG, so you can lock on to enemies, dodge (though not while attacking… soooo why does this exist again?), and use two different abilities, which differs depending on which weapon you have equipped. One sword may have a basic combo attack and a projectile, while another casts a healing spell and rains blades down on the battlefield. This is the most interesting concept in the game, but the combat feels absolutely atrocious to play around with and the overall performance of the game made me wonder how it ever passed by Idea Factory’s quality assurance team.
For example, just walking around the desert caused my party members to stutter around the screen. Check out this video I posted on my Twitter account. Like… what? This is me just exploring the opening hour of the game on PS4. I can’t imagine how much worse the performance is on the Switch version!
The overall look is super generic, aside from the chibi-style character models, which reminded me of Alliance Alive (which I’d rather be playing, mind you). It’s just… bland.
I gave it a good 3 hours and nothing hooked me. The base building mechanic mindlessly gatekeeps the better weapons and armor, but there’s nothing engaging about grinding monsters for materials throughout the same desert wasteland.
Some folks reported finishing their first playthrough between six and nine hours, and I was so unimpressed with Arc of Alchemist that I don’t think I’ll play beyond the three I’ve given it.