ARC THE LAD: END OF DARKNESS / Namco / PS2
So my original plan was to play Arc I-III on the Playstation before playing this one. They seemed like good games for my bus commutes to school (by way of PSP.) Arc I bored me into submission within only about 5 hours, however, and I read somewhere that the next two games in the series were like Super Darkity Dark Dark just for the sake of being Daaaark, so fuck that noise. I don't need arbitrarily depressing animu shit in my life right now. So I'm taking the "bookend" approach here by playing the first Arc game, then the last one (to date.)
And this probably is the final one given how badly nearly every aspect of it sucks, and how low-budget and without care much of the game appears to be. While the previous four Arc games were SRPGS with at least something of a dark tone, End of Darkness (appropriately named) is all cheery bubbly animu crap in a rather clumsy action-RPG framework. I can only surmise that it's the product of some bizarro marketing department decision to try to get money out of whatever was left of the Arc fanbase at this point while wildly flailing in the direction of new customers by hastily blending in all that MMO and "card battle" bullshit that was so trendy back when this came out.
Main character Chedda is some islander dude who lives in this tropical paradise that basically has the whole Noble Savage thing going on, they separated from the mainland centuries ago to form a peaceful coconut-slurping utopia, etc. But then one day Chedda and his buddy Hemo, a really disturbing little nightmare creature, find some "ancient book" completely at random in the forest somewhere. Then some weird chick comes to get it. Then these "hunters" show up from the mainland and get slaughtered by some Evil Monstar that only Chedda has the Special Powars to combat. All this other convoluted bullshit happens which leads to Chedda becoming a Hunter and learning to wield the Power Of Cards as he accepts MMORPG-style "guild missions" to advance the plot.
The story and dialogue are completely stupid, and non-skippable text just drags out forever and begs to be edited. The music is annoying repetitive awfulness. The only thing I really liked about the game is how it cuts to full-body shots of the major characters during dialogue and cutscenes, though this is a bit wasted with low-quality character models and boring low-detail environments.
Even if you do eventually find Chedda and his coterie of central characters somewhat sympathetic in spite of their flatness, the repetitive nature of the gameplay and the loose, clumsy, delay-filled combat will probaby drive you off before the end anyway. The game was honestly pretty close to getting the Ugly Face, I give it the Meh for benefit of the doubt on it being designed for online play primarily and that enhancing the experience; online play is kind of a moot point due to the official servers being dead for years, of course.
* Gameplay Video