Bad writing can easily put me off a game, but good storytelling can make me overlook a few issues, and Reluctant Archon has some really good storytelling, but is that one good thing enough to counterbalance some fairly fatal flaws?
Reluctant Archon is an urban fantasy visual novel where you play the role of a sorcerer who owns a club and is in hiding from his family. The beauty of this game is the way world-building is handled; the player isn’t bombarded with exposition at the outset, and we learn the world as the story progresses. Character introductions and the small lore drops do depend on the reader having some experience with the genre, but that’s allowable. The way this game uses visuals and text is an excellent example of the old adage in writing: show, don’t tell.
The story becomes rich and full of detail at a good pace, and the way the story is told doesn’t leave a player overly confused, unless they try to skip a bunch of text. There are some scenes that are a little simplistically told, but nothing so jarring as to detract from the general quality of the tale. The choices you make in the story do have some impact, and that adds a layer of replayability to the game.
While the world-building is well done, the grammar and spelling really need the attention of a good proof reader or editor. The errors are not as bad as some, but sometimes the use of punctuation seems to have been decided using a form of ‘Pin the tail on the donkey.’ I’m not one to continue to read through bad spelling and grammar unless I find the story entertaining, and this story is definitely that.
The art is good, if a little straightforward. There are no glaring issues with it that ruin immersion in the game world, but there’s also nothing exceptional to make it stand out from others. This isn’t a flaw, in my mind, but there are some points where some more atmospheric lighting could have added to the general ambiance of the scene. The models are attractive, but there are too few renders to really show the wealth of emotion and expression that seems to be going on in the text.
The biggest flaw in this game, however, is the sex scenes, and for an adult game, that’s a pretty major flaw. The animations are very, very basic affairs of two images on a loop, and the scenes themselves are really too short to titillate. However, whether the story stands on its own without the added spice of being an adult game is too subjective for me to state categorically. For me it is, but for others, maybe not. If I was going to rate this game for sexiness, then it would get a low score.
All in, this is a game with a good, well paced, and well built story. I’m looking forward to where it goes, but I do hope the glaring issues mentioned above get some attention. It would be a shame if they didn’t.