What the Dickens?
Among the greatest RPGs of all time, Fallout is typically mentioned as one of them. There was just something so unusually refreshing about how the game played out that made all its flaws melt away. Few games have ever paid as much attention to detail, or given a wider variety of statistics as Fallout and Fallout 2 did. But after Fallout 2, much of the team disappeared from Black Isle, and formed Troika, and into the night they disappeared, until announcing what exactly it was they were working on.
They were working on the great experiment in RPGs: Arcanum. Arcanum is something of a contradiction in many ways. Like the wayward Fallout era that hybridized the 1950s, and the 2300's and made it actually work, Arcanum blends a Dickens (Tale of Two Cities locales) universe in the late 1800's, with a Tolkein world of wizardry, magic, monsters, and medieval lore. This highly unusual blend of environments creates a game set in a period that I never thought I'd actually see a game take place. This combined with the period-music as played by a string quartet really gives an unusual feeling to the game.
The other first that Arcanum set out to accomplish was to successfully blend technology and magic into the same RPG. The concept is quite intriguing. The primitive Jules-Verne style machines (complete with the mad engineer hopping around at the success of the experiment), 1870's firearms, and more character stats than any other game, even Fallout, somehow exist in a world with spell shops, and necromancy.
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