Who uses the phrase ‘bit off more than they can chew’ these days? Me, that’s who. Little did I know that covering the visual novel Archetype Arcadia would take up so much time I may have bitten off more than I can chew. It’s huge!
We all know I’m a fresh convert to visual novels now, but other than Crime Opera, most of the titles I’ve experienced have been relatively short. The most recent is Wet Steps. It’s good and all, as I get to finish them and write all about it, but PQube’s latest was heavy going.
Archetype Arcadia isn’t a throwaway narrative jam-packed with maids and neko twats to fill the bits in between – this is a bona fide epic.
With multiple endings to unlock, it’s a game where you can confidently strike off all other activities. If you want to finish it before your balls drop.
Archetype Arcadia Switch Review: Wait, Is This Real?
The character names in the story are a bit lame. Our protagonist is Rust, and he’s accompanied by his sister Kristin, or as he likes to shorten it, ‘Sti’. Erm… that means something else, usually reserved for sexually active individuals. Or… groupies.
Anyways, the siblings are the last of humanity, or so it seems, and that’s where our adventure begins. Set in the future, the former inhabitants of Archetype Arcadia developed a condition called Peccomania.
The skinny is their mental state would deteriorate to the point where they would physically harm themselves or others, obviously resulting in death. To combat this, the infected would enter a virtual world that helps the condition but features an authentic life-and-death style of play.
Said world is like a deck-building turn-based game. Players collect stone runes, and when they use them in battle, an avatar spawns and does battle with the other player’s avatar… to the death!
Did I mention that Archetype Arcadia is like Pokemon, where you fight another player, also armed with their runes? But there’s a twist.
Custom Decks… Or Something… I Can’t Remember
Each set of runes, conveniently carried around in a folder that only the player can interact with, are custom to the person carrying them. Why? How?
They’re based on memories.
Though there are only a handful of runes, they relate to the person who holds them – for example, Rust’s relationship with his mother. It sounds confusing, but it eventually makes sense. If the player is beaten, the rune cracks, and there’s the risk of losing the memory forever.
Worse, the player can die in the game, which carries over to the real world. Kristin is a veteran of the virtual world as she has Peccomania, but when Rust finds her unresponsive, he goes in and hits the ground running.
There’s all this talk of deck-building and whatnot, but the emphasis here is on Archetype Arcadia being a visual novel, not a turn-based RPG.
It’s all about the story, and there are 100,000s of words in the game, narrated, too. There are quite a few options for the player, considering this features multiple endings.
Is This The End?
Right, a bit more subjectivity and honesty.
Initially, I was eager for Archetype Arcadia to end. I found it incredibly messy and complicated. In the first hours, it was difficult to relate to the characters and care about them, and it just didn’t appeal to me whatsoever.
Looking at some menu options, I clocked the gallery and noticed how many empty spaces there were. This might be a big game, after all. It was!
The story isn’t overwhelming, but once the concepts and new characters are introduced, it gets better and better. For some clarity, it often takes me the first fifth of a book to get into it, so it’s on me.
PQube consistently releases decent titles, and Archetype Arcadia doesn’t cut corners. I had expected to finish this in a day or two and be none the wiser on what it was all about, and though the themes are pretty straightforward, if you were to break it down, they work well, and it’s an entertaining experience.
Give it a chance, as it takes time to set it all up.