Arboria Review: Arboring a lot of potential

by stubat
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If I was to say to you, Dark Souls meets Roguelite, what would you say? Would that pique your interest? Would you run in fear at the thought of what could possibly become of that? Well, if it piqued your interest, then boy do I have a review for you! Today, we’re taking a look at Arboria, a game developed by Dreamplant and published by All in! Games.

Arboria describes itself as a 3D Roguelite, third-person action RPG and while this is the first game of this style I’ve really tried, I’m a big fan of action RPGs and I have a huge love for Roguelites. Roguelites specifically, there’s just something about a game that plays differently every time you delve into it that seriously appeals to something like me who has a short attention span. That attention span tends to force me into playing online multiplayer for the most part, purely because every game is a different experience, but roguelites appeal to me too, because everything is random!

I like to preface my reviews with a quick overview, if after that you decide you want to read on as I delve into the game more, that’s great. But I understand that time is money and if you’re just wanting to know if it’s any good, then I got you fam. Arboria is great, simply put. Like I mentioned previously, the combat is souls-like with roguelite elements. By which I mean, you’re looking at sticking to your enemies, waiting for openings, abusing the hell out of dodge mechanics and striking your foes down, but every run is different. What’s not to love? Well, I’ll tell you, let’s take a deep dive into the land of Durnar. You ready? 

Arboria Story

Arboria’s story isn’t ‘incredibly’ complex. You begin in the tutorial ‘dungeon’ playing as a Yotunz called ‘Gobbok’ after being awoken by a hideous looking (kind of a theme, we’ll get to that) fairy called a ‘Rata’. The Rata is your guide and will be moving forward, she sets you off on the right foot by explaining the controls for you, she explains what we’re doing delving down into the world of Durnar, healing the Father Tree. She points out some sick roots and explains that she can heal them, but you need to defend her. 

Arboria Yotunz chanting

As you’re on your merry way, Gobbok finds a strange hat on a corpse, a corpse of another Yotunz adventurer. After putting the hat on, Gobbok finds himself… Not himself. He lashes out at the Rata and decides he doesn’t need her help anymore and ventures deeper into Durnar. He wants to find the ‘Godz’, he wants to know what they’re doing and why they’re doing it. He has questions and he wants answers at any cost.

This is where you and Gobbok part ways, for now. The Rata flies back to the surface and speaks to the troll shaman ‘Vordagg’ who tells her that the Father Tree will spawn as many Yotunz as they need, to complete their new goal of tracking down Gobbok and ridding the world of the cursed hat. This leads us into some random character generation.

Gameplay

Once you’re done with the tutorial you get your first glimpse at one of the roguelite aspects. Character select. Now you don’t entirely have a choice over what you GET but that’s part of the fun, you’ll be presented with a few different Yotunz, all with different weapon proficiencies, different traits and perks and differing appearances. Arboria gives each character a name but if you want to you can give them a custom name.

Arboria

Anyway, once you’ve selected your preferred character from the selection, it’s time to take the dive into Durnar. After a ritual dance and being given the blessings of your tribe, your character takes the plunge into depths, the depths being a series of randomly generated dungeon floors, all featuring an array of enemies, each with the potential to deal different elemental damage with a wide variety of attack styles.

Your goal in Arboria is to collect Veri, progress as far as possible and save as much Veri as possible. When your character kicks the bucket, your Rata will return your head to the surface. Where you will either be given back to the Father Tree, or, your head will be preserved in a large jar. There are 5 of these jars reserved for your top 5 runs. Which I think is a grim but incredible way of showing this off. 

You slayed some fools, you smashed some Veri rocks and you eventually died, it happens to the best of us, what now? Well, you can use the Veri to make it easier for the next Yotunz, you could say your work today helps pave the way to a brighter future for the Yotunz tribe. You’ll spend it on perks, default gear upgrades and more. Although I’ll get to the latter in a moment. As previously mentioned, once you die, you go back to character select. Character select can be great, or poor, depending entirely on how well you do.

The more Veri you acquire and the more you progress, the more you please the Godz. When you please the Godz, they’ll bless your characters with better perks and more of them, again making things easier moving forwards.

Arboria

So you’ve picked your character… Again… you’ve spent your veri and you’re ready to go… again… How can we acquire gear in Arboria? Well, every run starts with some basic equipment, your weapon, known as a symbiont, begins as a basic axe, your ability, known as a mutation, shockwave and some basic armour. It’s not the greatest, but it’ll do. This isn’t for life however, as you progress and heal the Father Trees roots, you’ll unlock the ability to acquire more ways to spend your Veri, for example, if your selected character only has Lance proficiency, eventually you can change that by dealing with the symbiont master, Tadd da Bat.

This guy will improve your weapon handling, he can allow you to select a more appropriate default weapon and you can also, if you have enough scrap, craft a custom weapon, again, the more you progress, the more you can customise a weapon to your liking.

Arboria Skillz Menu

If it’s the mutation you’re wanting to change, then you’ll be wanting to unlock Muldogg da Distortyd, this guy does similar to Tadd da Batt, he’ll let you pick your starting mutation, he offers mutation upgrades and the ability to craft a custom mutation. 

With your newly acquired Symbionts and Mutations, you did it, you managed to clear the first floor! What awaits? Once you drop through the door at the end of each level, you’ll be in a room that has a few things in it, firstly, the Veri deposit, this is where your Rata will, um, deposit your Veri… It’s not pretty and she asks you to look away, but yeah.

There’s an enhancement machine which will allow you to pick another perk. Speaking of, you can acquire perks as you clear the floors, for example, I JUST opened a chest and got a perk called Boomstick, every 5 hits I create an explosion based on the element of my Symbiont. Awesome! The enhancement machine will offer you 3 perks, but if like me you found a perk on the previous floor, you can swap that out for a perk of the same type.

The World – Design & Graphics

The village of the Yotunz is pretty grim, but that isn’t a bad thing. It’s a shaggy wooden dwelling, in the middle of what looks like a heavily toxic swamp. The Yotunz themselves are pretty creepy looking trolls, who seem doomed to bend over to the will of the Godz. Beyond that, dropping into Durnar, you’ll find dark, dingy environments, filled to the brim with bug-like creatures.

Ranging from flying critters like wasps, to Scyther-esque giant mantis that will try to remove your head (before your Rata can) with every opportunity. While this kind of world appearance may not be for everybody, in my opinion, it’s something I can get behind. It absolutely screams fantasy and in this age where a lot of games are leaning towards a sci-fi theme, it makes a nice change. 

Arboria

Outside of the design, the game actually looks really good graphically, ultimately I feel like Dreamplant can be proud of how the game has turned out. I did have some issues in terms of running the game and my system isn’t exactly low end, it’s relatively mixed right now actually. Arboria recommends. 

  • I5-8400 or a Ryzen 5 1600 
  • 16GB RAM
  • Radeon RX580/GeForce GTX 1060

I have an i7 5820k which is still better than the recommended specs, I have a RTX 3080 and 16gb 3000mhz DDR4. Running the game, mostly on high, at 1440p/60fps, I quite literally couldn’t run anything else at the same time. Tried to watch the RLCS on my 2nd monitor, the game chugged quite a bit. When I wasn’t watching the RLCS the experience was super smooth, looked great and flowed well.

The End

So, I’ve said Arboria looks good, it plays good and for the most part it runs good, what’s the verdict? Look, I’m a simple man, as someone who can’t stick to playing single player games over and over unless they offer something different, this is the sort of thing I’ve found myself coming back to, even after this review was finished. At £15.49 it’s quite a bit of game for the money, if you see it on sale it seems a certified buy. 

If you’re into souls-likes and if you’re into roguelites, do it, give Arboria a go, the game has a demo on the Steam store anyway so you’ve got nothing to lose having a blast through that. But I think even at full price I’d recommend this game. Given the fact it seems a super ram hungry game and I feel like that may actually harm quite a lot of peoples experiences with Arboria, I can only realistically give it a 9/10, but it’s a strong 9. I enjoyed the hell out of this game.


Arboria is developed by Dreamplant and published by All in! Games. It’s available on PC via Steam now, having been released May 2008. Click HERE for more game reviews.

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