Disclaimer: I received this game for free from the developer.
Finally back to playing some games on my PC rather than my Switch! I'd taken a break from reviewing developer-requested games for a while, but I thought it was time to review something a little more recent. Arcanbreak came out just about a month ago and it looks quite different from any other games I've had sent to me, so I thought this would be a good shift. Arcanbreak is a mystery point & click where you play as two inquisitors investigating a murder associated with a group of witches. Arcanbreak gives you freedom to explore as to different characters with different skill sets, although it could just use some slight improvements in a few areas.
Arcanbreak starts you off with a voiced narration intro, which I was surprised to hear from this small indie game. It was definitely well done and gives gravity to the story you're being told. Essentially, illegal magic users are trying to create ultra-powerful relics, and the inquisitors are looking to put a stop to it. You start the game with two playable inquisitors, Quilla and Arun, who are inspecting the murder victim and searching for clues. Arcanbreak does a good job of explaining not only the lore of this world, but the gameplay tutorial as well. You're given a window with controls which you can open and close at your discretion. The only thing it missed explaining is how to switch between the two characters by clicking on the character's avatar on the bottom right. It took me just a little bit to figure this out, but it quickly becomes apparent you'll need both characters for different challenges. Quilla is agile and fast, so she can help get through obstacles. Arun is an herbalist and can withstand powerful odors, so he'll be the one to craft potions and deal with dangerous fumes.
The art style in Arcanbreak caught my eye because, although it looks like many pixel art games in terms of its environments, it differs in its character design. Characters are bigger sprites, allowing to see a little more detail from them. I did like this choice, since the characters were an important part of the story. The character art is quite good and it added a lot of emotion to both primary and side characters. I do wish the cover art for the game looked as good as the in-game character art - it could use more focus on character faces and a little more style. Also, I would say the menu elements and fonts could look a little better. I didn't really like the font used in the lore books, it made the text look less ancient and more cartoony. There isn't too much to say on the music, but the soundtrack definitely had a mysterious and ominous vibe.
Throughout your investigation, you'll collect lore books and recipes that may either help you along your path or inform you about the people of this world. Since none of these were particularly long, I did read all of them and learn more about the alchemy, magic, and religions in Arcanbreak. The recipes teach you what items you'll need to craft in order to create something new. I really enjoyed the crafting, especially because it wasn't always as simple as "put these three items together" - it directed you to combine separate items at one time and then mix these combinations with more items in a sequential way. It required you to read the recipe a little more carefully and experiment with different solutions.
Near the end of Arcanbreak, you have to hunt for many different ingredients in a building so you can build a couple different recipes. This was mostly pretty fun, but it became frustrating when I couldn't find one specific item. Usually, you know where to click if you see some items on a table, but other times you had to very precisely pixel hunt to see if there was anything in that space. I went through all the rooms multiple times, not seeing anything at all I could possibly pick up, until the last time I finally went through holding my mouse over every part of the screen. It's easy to miss some items this way, so I recommend just being more thorough than I was the first time around. There's a function in Arcanbreak where you can left-click on an item to learn about it and right-click to allow your character to interact with it then left click again. Although I knew this, it's easy to forget when you're examining many items and you forget to right-click each one. I would've rather it just tell me the item information and then asked me if I wanted to interact with it. I did like, however, that you had to choose the right items from your inventory and drag them to where you wanted to use them, meaning you had to know what each item's purpose was.
I should also explain that according to reviews on the Steam page for Arcanbreak, this is prequel for an upcoming game from the developer. I don't know if that means the next game will be a little bit longer or more involved, but I would be interested to see more as the ending of this game seems to open up more questions and set up for an upcoming larger story. For the most part, this game was fairly simple, so I'd like to see more intricate puzzles and crafting that could involve both characters.
Arcanbreak was short but intriguing, and left me curious for more. It doesn't have many rough edges beyond some menu/journal aesthetics and requiring the player to pixel hunt at times in order to find what they need to find. I liked what I saw of the characters, although I do want to understand more about the motivation of the "witches" who are experimenting with deadly magic. It was unique in its approach of letting you switch back and forth between two different characters as you please, and making that a part of the puzzle-solving. I recommend Arcanbreak if you like mystery point-and-click games and for fans of fantastical, dark magical worlds.
P.S. Achievement hunters: this one has some nice achievements and none of them are too difficult to get, so I actually ended up getting all of them.
Arcanbreak is available on PC.
Played on: PC
Last Played: 11/28/2020
Playtime: 2 hrs