I’ve been playing the fairly new computer RPG, Arcanum, and I must admit I’ve been enjoying it, for the most part, but am getting increasingly frustrated with it.

The world is neat, and the technology/magic angle has been integrated fairly well. It’s got a great look-and-feel, and the system seems to make sense for the most part.

However, the NPCs are dumber than newborn puppies. Combat happens too often for this system to be as dumb as it is. I can’t IMAGINE playing it in real-time. The NPCs will happily charge an enemy ten times stronger then them, when they have no hit points left. Sometimes they will stand in place. My healer will gleefully keep curing poison on me instead of trying to kill the thing poisoning me each turn. When the combat is over, he has no power left to heal me or cure the poison because he used it all up during combat. I have no control over this.

I can’t pick their skills, either, so I’ve got all these ranged weapons I can’t train them to use.

I guess I’m too used to the Baldur’s Gate-type agmes, where I had a lot more control over the NPCs and could actually turn them into useful companions, rather than just pack animals that sometimes help out in combat.

In addition, the rulebook, while charmingly olde-fashioned, could have benefitted from being less charming and more instructive. Information is scattered around it in an often confusing fashion, and a lot of space is devoted to stuff that just doesn’t matter. If the history of orcs and gnomes is so important to you, put it in the game - that space in the book could have gone to far better use.

It’s still a pretty fun game, but the fun could definitely be increased if the combat was less frustrating.

I’ve been trying to play through this game to review it for my site. I swear, this is the MOST evil RPG I’ve ever played. Aside from the rampant stupidity of the NPCs in combat, and the inability to run away (why yes, at level 4 I want to fight 5 black bears who can kill me in one hit, sure), the game tries to make itself unfun by giving an amazing amount of Critical Failures.

Now, I’m all for missing when shooting something. That’s not a big deal. But, I don’t like the fact that at least once every 5 - 8 attacks I will get a critical failure which result in anything from some damage to my character, to my character being knocked over, to the gun BLOWING MY ARM OFF and leaving me as a bloody mess.

Oh well. The game design is quite nice. I also like the technology mixed with magic and being able to make your own weapons. I just think it needed to be played by a few people who didn’t a) use a cheat code or b) weren’t programmers for the company. The game is amazingly frustraiting at times.