Lord of Arcana has potential, it just needs to tighten a few loose screws.

User Rating: 6.5 | Lord of Arcana PSP
Lord of Arcana is an attempt to overthrow Monster Hunter brought to us by Square Enix.

The plot to Lord of Arcana is that you are a warrior trying to acquire the arcana and become lord master of the arcana... and that's it. The plot takes a back seat truth be told, so don't expect any twists and turns if you decide to embark on this journey.

The tutorial mission pits you as a powerful warrior (level 45) as well as a master in your preferred weapon type and a fire spell, you can also summon Bahamut during the tutorial. However, once you have killed the boss (Nidhogg), you lose all your knowledge and experience, thus dropping you to level 1, losing your weapon and spell mastery, as well as losing your equipment.
This helps to warm you into the game by giving you a fighting chance whilst learning the game mechanics.

The art style is interesting due to the fact that successful artists such as Todd McFarlane, Yoshitaka Amano and Tetsuya Nomura designed the many creatures you face in the land of Horodyn.

The soundtrack fits the game really well, especially when you fight Bahamut, Grendel and Vermillion, especially since acclaimed composer Nobuo Uematsu was involved.

The missions in Lord of Arcana play in the same way as Monster Hunter, with the same level of diversity. Some missions task you with killing certain amounts of different enemies, some task you with killing a boss while others task you with gathering certain items and putting in the treasure box over at the start point on each map.

The combat is a tad unusual for this type of game, simply because it adopts the same encounter system as Star Ocean: The Last Hope. You run into an enemy, battle starts in an empty battlefield, you kill enemy/enemies, gather loot, gain experience points, finish battle and move on.

However, the normal battles are average affairs at best, enemies have repetitive attack patterns, so after a bit of time goblins will merely get on their knees and lick your boots because you managed to dodge the only attack they had.

Ultimate Cards/Spells add some fun though, being able to annihilate a group of enemies just by summoning Bahamut is a joy to behold, but at the cost of using up all the mana you gain from hitting your enemies with normal attacks.

The bosses are more fun though, especially as a melee fighter, because at certain points in the battle, you can experience rather brutal Quick-Time Events. I know it has been done in games before, but QTEs really do make Lord of Arcana stand out from the crowd, especially with the amount of blood that spews out from your enemies during the QTE.

The character progression feels more like a Phantasy Star/Monster Hunter combo, because one side of character progression involves levelling up your character, your skill with one of 5 weapons as well as one of 4 magic spells. The other side of character progression involves gathering materials to create new weapons,armour,orbs and spell cards as well as upgrading weapons,armour and spell cards.

There are 5 weapon types in Lord of Arcana, which, in my opinion, are very unbalanced. For example, the Firelance is the only ranged weapon in the game and gives you the highest magic attack stat, however you have to give up some of your maximum HP, so you die the quickest.

Unfortunately, I have not been able to have a multiplayer session on Lord of Arcana because, just like other co-op RPGs (excluding Phantasy Star Portable 2), there is no online multiplayer, which is an unforgivable sin since this game lives and dies by the multiplayer mode.

Lord of Arcana is worth trying, especially since you can get a demo of it on Playstation Network for free, and if you like it, you can use your demo save in the full game.