Rise of The Argonauts
|Written by: Etali|
If you're not explicitly familiar with Jason, you may still have heard some of the Greek myths such as the story of Icarus, Medusa, or Achilles - perhaps told as a school assembly story.
My knowledge of Greek mythology extends only to the sources listed above – school assemblies, and TV and movies. Despite this lack of culture and education, I found Rise of The Argonauts to be a very interesting game.
Rise of The Argonauts places you in the shoes of King Jason of Iolcus, who at the start of the game is swept up in a quest to save his wife Alceme who is killed in the opening cutscene. Jason is convinced that it was not Alceme’s time to die, and takes his case to the Gods, who agree to give him some time to save her – by recovering the Golden Fleece.
Along the way he learns that his wife's assasins were Blacktongues – worshipers of Hecate who are motivated by a grand plot involving the Fleece, so in the process of saving his wife, he could also be saving the world.
The Jason character is the wise, caring leader you may recognise from most telling of his story. Along the way he meets many different people and solves their dilemas. The way you solve them – for example through diplomacy or force, will influence the path that you take throughout the game – different gods prefer different actions – impress a god and you gain Aspect points with them. You can also dedicate your deeds to a specific god – Apollo, Ares, Athena, or Hermes. Each god has different skills and abilities, and as you become more closely aligned with each deity, you gain stronger powers.
The game is an action RPG, and there’s certainly a decent amount of combat, but there’s a lot more talking. Throughout the game people will come to you for wisdom and advice – on everything from employment matters to what hobbies to take up in retirement. The dialogue is well written, however, and you do actually feel like you’re playing the role of the Jason from the legends.
As you work through the story you will learn about Medusa, Icarus, King Midas, the Titans, and many more Mythical and Legendary characters. Some of their stories aren’t quite as I remember them being told, but things fit together well in the game and that’s all that matters.
The game takes a unique approach to the gear and level systems – there’s no real level or gear treadmill. You can spread out your abilities across several gods, or focus on just one, the choice is yours (and based on a few play-throughs of the game on different difficulty levels, all choices are viable – you won’t find yourself stuck because you chose the wrong deities). You start the game with some very basic armour, and as you play through you’re given access to upgraded armour, and legendary weapons, just by completing quests.
You can carry several weapons, and swap between others when you’re on the Argo. You don't have to worry about money, levelling up, or shopping, just focus on the story and the rest will come.
The default interface for the game is a HUD-less one – I was terrified when I saw this because no-HUD always makes me think of King Kong, but in Rise of the Argonauts, the no-HUD interface works very well. If you prefer to be able to see your health, you can turn on the combat HUD, but other things (such as access to the map), are still hidden behind a pause menu. It takes a little getting used to, but it works well. In most cases it’s still easy to aim attacks, and you don't spend that much time worrying about your health anyway.
The combat is pretty simple – there is a combo system, and different weapons have different abilities – such as destroying shields or causing knockbacks, but at least on the first two difficulty levels you don’t have to be all that proficient in the combos to win most of the fights. When your health gets low – shown by the screen blurring round the edges – you can regenerate a decent amount of health just by avoiding getting hit for a few seconds. This is fairly easy to pull off on all but the hardest difficulty, so even if you haven't taken Apollo's healing skills you can still survive and come back from tricky low-health situations. In most fights, you have the help of your fellow Argonauts - if they 'die', then they can't help you for the rest of the fight, but they will come back to life after the battle, and will be availabe for future parts of the adventure.
The combat may not be as difficult as in some other RPGs, but it is still entertaining – I could imagine it would get boring if you chose to specialize in one weapon type, but if you use several different weapons, then pulling off the combos for each type, and swapping in fights keeps things interesting.
Rise of The Argonauts is a fairly short game. It took about 16 hours to play through the first time (I attribute a lot of that play time to getting lost), and 12 hours to play through the second time on a harder difficulty level. There's a lot of voice acting, and a lot of cutscenes – most of these can be skipped, but for once I enjoyed watching them.
We played through the game several times on the Xbox 360, and only encountered one instance of severe lag - which happened at the start of one of the last fights in the game. The rest of the game ran very smoothly, even in situtions where there were a lot of characters on the screen at once.
If you're a fan of long, deep RPGs of the Square Enix variety you'll probably be disappointed with Rise of The Argonauts, but if you're looking for some fun times and some familiar myths then Rise of The Argonauts will certainly give you that. It's a fun game with some decent replay value, an interesting God System, and, most importantly, you feel like you're playing the role of King Jason. Good stuff.
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