Arvale II: Ocean of Time is classic console style RPG in the vein of Final Fantasy (before VII) and Dragon Quest possessing one grand world map, random monster encounters and an epic storyline set in a fictional world. The story follows a researcher named John DeMenchev who has moved to the backwater village of Queous in search of a lost civilization called the Mazulen. DeMenchev, who starts off as a rather bookish type, discovers that one of the temples for the Mazulen and the time traveling artifact contained inside is actually by his village. But any further academic interests are hampered by the appearance of another race bent on blackmailing DeMenchev to find all of the Mazulen time travel artifacts.
The game world itself boasts eight distinct continents to travel in. Each continent is peppered with cities, dungeons and local flora and fauna. To get around, you will be taking by land, sea, air and as the subtitle of this game implies, the passage through time itself. Typical of most RPG titles, much of the real grunt work will take place in dungeons where you'll combat monsters but also get a chance to solve some puzzles posed by the developers. Cities and villages are filled with NPCs that assist you in advancing the plot. Luckily, the game contains a mini-map that will aid in navigation.
Combat, of course, is a significant part of all RPG games. Monsters can be defeated through the use of melee or ranged weapons and magic. There are three difficulty levels available and on the easiest setting, the game moves at a smooth pace. You won't find yourself outclassed too much, so you won't have to spend a considerable amount of time "leveling up" or collecting the next best weapon.
Graphically, Arvale II looks colorful and vibrant. Because it takes place on so many continents, the developers were able to leverage the many themes and create a game that is filled with hundreds of monsters and NPCs. Indeed, if it were one homogenous theme, I would imagine there would be lots of repetition. On the audio side, the game boasts more than a hundred sound effects. One bright spot of the sound is the long and engrossing soundtrack. No doubt Arvale II’s rich presentation owes much to its Windows Mobile platform.
If the main quest is not enough, Arvale II boasts a branching storyline. Decisions made can affect the outcome of the game itself, adding to the replayability of the game. There are also plenty of sidequests to be found amongst DeMenchev’s travels.
Arvale II is a solid and lengthy RPG game. Playing it often reminded me of the countless hours I sunk into Final Fantasy on Japanese NES (Famicom) systems. PDAMill has promised more than forty hours of gameplay. Those who enjoy battling monsters and exploring fictional worlds will find lots to like in Arvale II.