Swords? Magic? Those gladiator sandals that are so hot right now? What more can you ask for in a game? For starters, how about a little less chit-chat?
The Rise of the Argonauts is an RPG that relies way too heavily on the ‘Role’ and not enough on the ‘Playing’ or ‘Game’. There’s a whole lot of walking and talking, but unfortunately not a whole lot of action. No surprises, then, that the story is rather convoluted. In a nutshell, you play Jason, a guy who’s trying to get his hands on a flash sheepskin rug to help bring his dead missus back to life.
The game promises vast and dynamic levels, which is a slight exaggeration. One of these lands, Saria, consists of half-a-dozen mud huts, two fields, a big tree and a cave. Given the miniscule size of the environments, it came as a real surprise how easy it was to still get lost, thanks to the absence of a direction guide and only the vaguest of maps.
Another big disappointment was the quality of the graphics; most noticeably a schizophrenic frame rate, some nasty texture dropouts and non-existent facial animations. It looked like the crew of the Argo was handing around the Botox between missions.
On a brighter note, the game features some responsive and very satisfying combat. Jason has three weapons in his arsenal: sword, spear and mace, as well as an indestructible shield. All four items can be upgraded by using ‘favour’. Jason gains ‘favour’ from the gods by completing missions, and this can be ‘cashed in’ to acquire special moves to be used in combat. Each of the gods Jason worships affects a different weapon, and there’s ample flexibility in choosing which weapon and consequently, which god you support. I like my mace. Cheers, Ares!
A good RPG is all about balancing character development with an engaging story and solid gameplay. By favouring one, The Rise of the Argonauts has, alas, tripped over its own toga.