5 Reasons Why Arcania is Better than The Witcher 3

ArcaniA The Complete Tale PS4

Ok, so before you all grab your pitchforks and start sending me hate mail let me be clear and say this: I really liked The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt. It’s a really good game with deep, fascinating lore, interesting characters and jaw-dropping graphics. However, for the reasons I’m about to outline, I absolutely loved Arcania.

Arcania, which is also known as Arcania: Gothic 4, is a budget Western RPG which released on PC, Xbox 360 and PS3 about five years ago. On the whole critics didn’t really dig it and many fans were disappointed. Many believed it to be a lacklustre sequel to the beloved Gothic series and many fans blamed this on the new, much smaller developer Spellbound Entertainment taking the reigns. I know that mechanically and technically The Witcher 3 is a newer, superior game. That’s something I want to make really clear. The Witcher 3 also had way more people working on it, most probably a longer development cycle and a ton more money put into it.

About a week before The Witcher 3 came out a “remastered” version of ArcaniA: The Complete Tale popped up on the PS Store for PS4. It boasted an improved framerate, draw distance and resolution. I was so excited to play The Witcher 3 I contemplated whetting my RPG appetite with Arcania. I’d heard of Arcania. I had seen some gameplay videos when it had come out 5 years ago and I had liked the look of it. But honestly back then my PC was garbage and struggled running 1994’s The Horde (another awesome game but I digress). As a result I unfortunately missed out. So, despite reading mostly negative to middling reviews of Arcania I took the plunge on PS4. Wow – I was amazed. What a wonderful and charming RPG.

Arcania has a lovely, classical fantasy RPG art-style. Sure, it’s aged a little over the years but there are still moments in the game where I had to stop and take in the delightful view. The draw distance is super impressive, it runs at a solid 60 fps and there are neat flourishes here and there that are pretty remarkable. For example, when it’s raining the NPCs react and find shelter and nearly every weapon in the game has a slightly different moveset. Also you can pick up everything you find and don’t need to stress about ever getting over-encumbered(a la Dark Souls) which is kind’ve a relief to be honest. But above all else it’s a small, budget game that has a bucket-load of heart. And I love it.

Here are my top 5 reasons why I believe Arcania is a better game than The Witcher 3:

1.) I know what the hell is going on in the story
The story and world within The Witcher 3, for better or for worse, is incredibly dense. To me, it’s intimidatingly dense. Arcania, on the other hand is a relatively straightforward good vs bad setup that I can buy into easily and comprehend without looking up a wiki. And there’s also one other thing about the Witcher 3’s story that put me off. Why the heck is everyone so serious and po-faced? Like. All. The. Time. Geralt has got a serious stick up his butt and in my 50 hour playtime I can’t remember ever seeing him smile. Like, not even once. Arcania, however, consistently made me smile. Ok, maybe it was mostly unintentional but sometimes those moments of unintentional humour are arguably better than the scripted deliberate attempts at humour from big budget games in my humble opinion.

2.) The UI is way easier to use
I can’t remember how many times Geralt walked passed something I was trying to pick up. Infuriating. I get the feeling it was because the game was designed for a mouse and keyboard primarily but so was Arcania and I never once had an issue with picking stuff up in that game. Oh and don’t get me started on The Witcher 3’s inventory system. I found it harder to understand than Demon’s Souls and that game deliberately makes it hard for the player to understand.

3.) The music in Arcania is legitimately one of the most awesome scores I’ve heard in an RPG for ages
I sing it while walking round the house. I sing it in the shower. I sing it in the toilet. That’s a testament to how awesome it is.

4.) The upgrades in Arcania are awesome – The Witcher 3 not so much
Personally, I thought the upgrade trees in Arcania were fantastic. Every time you level up you get to distribute 3 skill points in numerous skill trees that are clear and concise. So I can upgrade my melee, health, magic regeneration, magic power and stamina by just leveling up once. Cool. I can even unlock new spells or even new damage modifiers. Awesome. I really looked forward to leveling up in Arcania. But The Witcher 3, not so much. There was a point in The Witcher 3 where I had skill points but I wasn’t allowed to use them for some god forsaken reason. That kinda sucks.

5.) It’s got Troy Baker in it
Yeah, the most popular voice actor in the games industry and the guy who played Joel in The Last of Us plays the hero in Arcania. Enough said.

I know it’s human nature to side with the underdog and I know most people reading this will be laughing at what a ridiculous article this is. But I just wanted to get it off my chest. Arcania has been a sleeper hit for me and I’m glad that I embarked on its crazy, ridiculous, incredible and memorable journey. Are there any “bad” games that have really resonated with you? Sound off in the comments. I’d love to hear your thoughts.

The Witcher 3 Wild Hunt PS4

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  • Ohhhh, controversial.

    • Dylan Chaundy

      One man’s good game is another man’s bad game:)

    • Dylan Chaundy

      And one man’s bad game is another man’s good game!

  • dos

    gotta say the witcher 3 had a very easy story to follow and i cant help but feel that this review stinks of a bought and sold game journalist. the literal thousands of bad reviews ive heard of arcania and the fact you are trying to put it up against a game that is almost universally considered a masterpiece by game journalists in my opinion points to biased personal agenda. however i could be wrong and if so i apologize but in my opinion and ive played games almost as long as you there is no comparison between these two games.

    • Dylan Chaundy

      We’re not all robots who have to like all the same things to the same degrees! Sometimes I enjoy B-movies more than Hollywood AAA blockbusters – We’re all different. Like I said in the article The Witcher 3 is a “newer, superior” RPG “technically and mechanically” to Arcania. I really liked The Witcher 3 but I also really loved Arcania, maybe it has something to do with having had much lower expectations for it going in. I know it’s peculiar because that’s why I wrote the article. Oh and this isn’t a review – it’s an opinion piece and my only personal agenda is world domination. Thanks for commenting though!

  • Charcharo

    Liking the “underdog” is fine and dandy. It is nothing to be ashamed of.

    But some of the points do … make me cringe a bit.

    The Witcher 3 storyline takes place after 8 books and 2 other games. I admittedly played it after reading all the books and playing the previous games, true. But this is not a con, this depth and remediation is one of its greatest strenghts. Not having read the books… is your own fault 😛
    *And even then I dont think it is so hard to navigate the story, just much less fun.

    Whilst Arcania did have a lower budget and a smaller team, people seem to forget that the Witcher 3 is not exactly a game made with that many people or such an incredible amount of money either. Its size/quality/budget ratios are excellent.

    As for the OST, it is subjective. But Witcher 3’s more unique Slavic tunes and songs do lend it to be more… memorable I guess.

    I give it to the UI though. Then again, most RPGs would do good to just copy STALKER Call of Pripyat’s UI and be done with it…

    • Dylan Chaundy

      Excellent points! You’re right CD Projekt Red are actually a reasonably small dev team compared to other AAA teams. I’ve played TW1 and TW2 but havn’t read any of the books. I should check them out. I’m not trying to say TW3 is bad – it’s a really good game, but when I was playing it I kinda wanted to boot up Arcania. I’ve also love B-movies. That may have something to do with it….

      • Charcharo

        ” I’ve played TW1 and TW2 but havn’t read any of the books.”

        That too is a mistake 😛
        Not as big as playing Witcher 3 without reading them though. It has more with the books than the previous games actually…

        To be fair there is another criticism of yours I dont quite agree with. The “seriousness” of Witcher 3. It is really a fairly silly game that has a lot of humor. Some of it dark, other… not as much. Getting drunk with the other witchers was a highlight, but there were many such instances where it was poking fun of fantasy tropes, polish pop culture, international pop culture, Slavic and central European fairy tales or even itself. I thought it had a great balance of serious drama and very honest humor 😛

        There is nothing wrong with liking Arcania. Even liking it more than other great games. I seem to play STALKER Clear Sky the most of the STALKER titles, and many see it as the black sheep of the already niche (but awesome!!!) franchise.

        • Dylan Chaundy

          Yeah the drunk scene was a great moment in the game! Havn’t played STALKER Clear Sky, will check it out next time it’s in a Steam sale. Thanks for commenting!