PlayStation 4
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Game Info:

Realms of Arkania: Star Trail
Developed by: Crafty Studios
Published by: UIG Entertainment GmbH
Released: June 26, 2018 (PS4), August 10, 2017 (Steam)
Available on: PlayStation 4, Microsoft Windows
Genre: Classic Role-Playing Game
ESRB: T for Teen, Use of Alcohol, Blood, Violence, Language, Partial Nudity and Sexual Themes
Number of players: 1
Price: $39.99

Thank you UIG Entertainment GmbH for sending us a review copy of the game.

Note: This review is based on the PS4 Pro version and might not look, sound, and perform the same on other consoles and PC.

Realms of Arkania: Star Trail is the sequel to Realms of Arkania: Blade of Destiny. The developers put out a follow-up to the successful first game to give gamers a chance to further experience the rich lore and engaging world that they enjoyed in Blade of Destiny. A gamer is not required to play the first game to understand the basic world concept, but it does help because you have a better understanding of the history of the world since you were part of it.

I was very happy to hear that the developers were remaking and upgrading the sequel and bringing it to PC and PS4. Of course gamers on Steam were able to enjoy it first and then it came to the PS4 roughly 10 months later. I enjoyed Blade of Destiny even with some of its flaws and quirks (see my review) so when I received a review code for Star Trail, I was eager to see how it would improve over the first game in the series.

Star Trail has made many improvements over the first game and that I appreciate. The first thing I noticed was the character creator. It is very in-depth and allows you to really create the character you want (I just wish they offered more character portraits to choose from). I even hired a female mercenary to join our band of heroes. Once I had my party the way I wanted, I left the starting temple (that is where you create your character and hire mercenaries if you want, or you can keep the default adventurers) and went out to a tavern in the first town to talk to a few quest givers (no spoilers, sorry) and then began my great adventure.

Realms of Arkania: Star Trail
Highlights:

Strong Points: Very engaging story, excellent menu layout, ever changing world map, character creator, narrator and NPCs voice work improved, ability to add notes from NPC conversation to help quest and world lore, and 3D battle map has seen upgrades visually.
Weak Points: Character models are not as diverse as RPGs of today. Menus freeze occasionally then unstick, experienced one game freeze and had to restart game. Some will be put off by the graphics. Need more character portraits in character creation.
Moral Warnings: Blood splashes during battles, inappropriate sexual phrases, occasional suggestive themes, magic, some language, partial nudity, scantily dressed characters and NPCs.

Several of the improvements I noticed (besides the character creator) was the menu system seemed to be more cleaned up and easy to understand. I could easily change to each party member then change to their inventory page (default), status, skills, quests, notes, recipes, and help pages. Each of the pages are well laid out, and easy to understand. For example the inventory page allows you to highlight and read important information on an item or a weapon (this is far more in-depth than I expected from an old school RPG). In the "note page" I always noted new information NPCs offered on the Salamander Stone (the main quest), and then sometimes on towns or areas of interest. This feature gives the player the ability to go back and read key information on a quest or whatever they are trying to figure out as they continue their adventure. It truly reminds me of those old school "pen and paper" adventures I had with my friends; think Dungeons & Dragons. Many RPGs expect you to memorize every detail as you play and don't offer the ability to take notes within the game from what you learn from NPCs or as you explore the world. How it works is that during a conversation with a NPC you have the option to hit a button on your controller (PS4) or keyboard (PC) and the game will make a scribble on paper sound letting you know that you just saved a note of the NPC answer to one of your questions; you can do this with all NPC conversations. Then you go to the "note page" in your menu system and read that note and any others of interest to you.

The overview world map is also a huge improvement over the first. There seems to be areas and towns/villages that would populate the map as you travel from one area to the next. I love that feeling that you never know what will appear on your map if you and your party travel down a certain road. I remember going down a road on the map and it informed me of some not so nice elves that were shooting some arrows at my party (letting us know to turn around or be killed). Fortunately, I had just saved my game at the last rest area (which was just down the road from these elves), which made me a little bolder in seeing what would happen if I didn't turn around and confront the very rude elves; boy oh boy what a mistake that was on my part. The elves battle map opened up and there were a dozen or more grumpy elves waiting to show me that I made a huge mistake. The battle didn't last long and I decided I would take the cowards way out and reload my game from the last save point. I did however travel down the road where the elves were and this time I chose to leave and go back. You might ask why would you do that and the reason why is you don't know if you will travel there again later in the game and you want all road and areas on your map. I sometimes would come across a fork in the road and I would just go for it (saving at each rest stop and town/village as I went). As Bilbo Baggins would say "once you're on the road you never know where your feet might take you!"

As I briefly mentioned above, the 3D battle map is a graphical upgrade over the first game, but not a completely brand new battle map. You can tell the developers worked hard to add some graphical touches and general improvements to a decent combat mechanic. It's still turn based and that is how I like it. Sound effects, like ambient character spell casting and weapon attacks, seem to have a better quality to them. I appreciate the developers are doing something different than other turn based RPGs.

Blade of Destiny is known for its very good music and narrator commentary, and this continues with Star Trail. Once again everything is upgraded and this is what you want in a sequel. Even the NPCs have better voice over and sound quality. I do wish they had more voice actors though, but this isn't a big budget game like Skyrim or The Witcher 3, so for its low development cost and a smaller development team I will give them a "A+" for effort.

Realms of Arkania: Star Trail
Score Breakdown:
Higher is better
(10/10 is perfect)

Game Score - 77%
Gameplay - 16/20
Graphics - 6/10
Sound - 8/10
Stability - 3.5/5
Controls - 5/5

Morality Score - 69%
Violence - 5.5/10
Language - 8/10
Sexual Content - 4/10
Occult/Supernatural - 8.5/10
Cultural/Moral/Ethical - 8.5/10

I did encounter a few freezing bugs accessing the menus (from time to time) and also the game did lock up on me and I had to restart (that happened once) from my last save. Other than that it ran fine. I hope the developer will fix these issues and any others that players are finding.

This seemed to have the same quality controls as the first, which is well done. It seems to surpass other PC ports to console over the last few years. I was able to get around menus, map functions, and battle commands with no problems. Oh, I love that the touchpad on the PS4 controller is used pull up my party menus so I can easily navigate them. I hope the developer will take advantage in the future of the speaker on the controller for NPC or narrator commentary that would be great (Realms of Arkania: Shadows over Riva 3rd game in the trilogy).

I would only recommend this for adults and older teens. Your characters will drink alcohol in taverns. There is blood splashes in combat but nowhere else. Certain party members and NPCs use magic in combat. Attack sounds in combat can sound very violent. There is language in the game like sh*t but I haven't come across any other words. There is a brothel the party interacts with. Also some characters can be scantily dressed which would make them partly nude (the lady on the cover photo is pretty revealing).

This game is a definite upgrade over the first game in the series. I would recommend it to "old school RPG gamers" who are looking for a taste of that classic feel. The character models, battle map, overview map, town/villages, and menus are far superior to the first game and that gives me hope for the final game in the series, Shadows over Riva.

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Christ Centered Gamer looks at video games from two view points. We analyze games on a secular level which will break down a game based on its graphics, sound, stability and overall gaming experience. If you’re concerned about the family friendliness of a game, we have a separate moral score which looks at violence, language, sexual content, occult references and other ethical issues.

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