Arcania: Fall of Setarrif Review (PC)

The most interesting part of this expansion to Arcania: Gothic 4 is the total removal of the Gothic name. We regularly get press releases telling us things we might like about games, but the one accompanying Arcania: Fall of Setarrif concentrated entirely on this fact and forgot to mention anything good about it. Seems Spellbound were rather upset with the fan reaction to Arcania so want to distance themselves from the brand with the expansion. Without the Gothic name there’s nothing to complain about, right? Wrong. Dead wrong.

There’s a brief recap of the main game at the start of Fall of Setarrif (I’m going to spell it wrong eventually, I know it), and I hope you know what’s going on because I certainly didn’t. To be fair, I actually didn’t care. The writing and acting are so utterly awful I couldn’t concentrate on anything that was said. Even in the game’s native German I can’t imagine the storytelling to be any better, as the game doesn’t really give time for any growth, twists, or anything of interest to happen on screen.


No matter where you look in Fall of Setarrif you find something designed as if by someone who’s only heard about RPGs through a friend of a friend describing them. It really takes a complete amount of unfamiliarity with the genre to make an RPG this out of touch. Every single thing about it is wrong or just plain badly thought-out. Specifics? Fine.

Let’s start with the combat. At first glance it seems similar to The Witcher 2, which was itself inspired by Batman: Arkham Asylum, two very fine combat systems. You attack with the left mouse button, block and roll with the right, and change weapons and spells using the number keys. It’s dynamic and would work quite well if someone with actual competence had programmed it. Instead, combat in Arcania consists of left-clicking an enemy as quickly as you can until they’re dead, with maybe a lightning bolt to stun them or a roll now and again. Every enemy you face apart from the final Archdemon can be beaten in this way, easily, boringly, and they probably never even had a chance to fight back.

It’s embarrassing just how easy Arcania: Fall of Setarrif is. People didn’t need to even upgrade their character in the main game to beat it, and things haven’t improved in this expansion. I didn’t change my weapons once for example, despite picking up and selling loads. The whole prospect of looting, getting cash to buy bigger and better weapons, is as totally broken as the rest of the game. Every enemy in the game carries gold (even the dead ones), it’s in chests, vases, and given for accomplishing quests. And what did I spend it on? Healing potions. That’s it. None of the traders I met in the game (all helpfully named “Trader”, making it easy to remember them at parties) had anything better than what I started the game with. And of course that small mountain of potions I was carrying made the game even easier.

I mentioned the writing being awful, but it begs re-iterating. Do you play RPGs for story, dialogue, characters? You don’t want to play this. The dialogue’s atrocious at the best of times, but it goes full-out toe-curling once it tries to be funny. Which it does far too often. Then you’ve got characters saying things like “that is good” and “we have to ban the demon” (don’t you mean “banish”?) in hideously annoying voices and it really feels like the developers shouldn’t have agreed to let their younger cousins write and star in it.

These girls yell “loot” when they see you. Typical women, am I right fellas?

Quests aren’t much better, revolving as they do around getting to the end as soon as possible. One major quest involved collecting special weapons to slay the Archdemon, which turned out to be less effective than my standard flaming sword. Also, the Ancient Crossbow was made useless by the fact that there’s no crossbow ammo in the entire game! There’s also only really one side-mission in the whole thing too, and that’s right at the start back when the game appeared slightly open (it gets swiftly linear). It involved killing some demon wolves, and is only really notable for my favourite moment in the game – where a sheep I saved followed me about for ages.

One of the few good things about Arcania was the slightly impressive environments and the generally pleasing graphical effects. Somehow Spellbound have managed to even cock this bit up too. Yes, the rain-falling-down-a-stone-path effect is nice and the shadows are rather pretty when they’re not “ticking” around the landscape, but that’s just the first hour. Soon the expansion makes way to dark caves, a boringly ruined city (seriously, I’ve never seen wanton destruction of property and lives so dull), and copy-paste tombs. Stick the engine in green fields and you have a reason to nod happily, but put it near any sort of rock (like 80% of Fall of Setarrif) and it looks 10 years old. Seriously, I’m looking at Gothic 2 and it’s not far off.

So what else could possibly be wrong? How about bugs? Didn’t encounter that many game-breaking ones, but subtitles frequently didn’t match the words being said and on my third level-up I was granted 43 skill points (you usually only get three). Not that I needed them. The real final kicker though is that my entire play-time was only three hours long. I explored what I could (which isn’t much), but Fall of Setarrif is so damn linear and easy I can’t imagine squeezing any more time out of it. Oh, and I wouldn’t want to anyway. It’s terrible.

Behold, the best part of the game

So, don’t buy Arcania: Fall of Setarrif. It’s short, it’s easy, it’s ugly, it’s badly written, it’s hard to spell, it’s not worth your time or money. Even if you did like Arcania I advise you to stay away from Setarrif at all costs. It takes the few remaining good things about Arcania: Gothic 4 and dumps them down the toilet, plus has the cheek to dress itself up as a Standalone Expansion Pack rather than a cheap bit of DLC.

One final thought for you: despite all the many, many problems the game has, Spellbound still programmed in the ability to stir soup. Soup your character can’t actually use. They actually took development time out from dialogue, story, characters, quests, content, graphics, combat, and all the other essential RPG elements they screwed up to give your annoying shepherd an utterly pointless animation. That just blows my mind.

Top Game Moment:  When that sheep followed me around for a bit. Good times.



By Kres (SI Elite) on Nov 03, 2011
Lol at the LOOT image caption. I guess if no woman replies we'll know there are absolutely no woman on SI. :p
By V4ndall (SI Veteran Member) on Nov 03, 2011
OH. MY. GOD. Just one question pops to my mind - is it worse than "Forsaken Gods" ?
By SirRoderick (SI Elite) on Nov 03, 2011
Wow...have you even scored anything this low?
By nocutius (SI Elite) on Nov 03, 2011
I didn't care much about this in the first place but now this franchise is officially dead to me. The first game wasn't even bad in itself, it was just an offense to the Gothic name.
By Kres (SI Elite) on Nov 03, 2011
Take a look at this page Roderick:

SI worst game scores for PC. So out of say Top 6 best games from worst scored games list, it is Top 1. That can't be a bad thing. Can it?
By SirRoderick (SI Elite) on Nov 03, 2011
Ah yes, Daggerdale. Remember that one. Redefined my mental image of "slap in the face".
By noobst3R (SI Core) on Nov 03, 2011
Wow. I never played a Gothic game, but from what I read and gathered over time, I stayed away. But now I am for sure. xD
By nocutius (SI Elite) on Nov 04, 2011
noobst3R noooooooooooooo :)

You missed the point entirely, Gothic series is fantastic, on par with Elder Scrolls if not better in my personal opinion. The whole point of bashing the first Arcania game is that it's not anything like Gothic outside of the 'stolen' name.

Risen 2 will be the new Gothic, they deserve all your attention :)
By The_Tingler (SI Core) on Nov 04, 2011
Oooh, now that's a question: which is better, Arcania: Fall of Setarrif or Daggerdale? Having the misfortune of reviewing both, I'd say the PC version of Daggerdale is slightly worse due to being both terrible and riddled with bugs. Setarrif is at least pretty stable, but as it was supposed to come out a year ago that's not exactly a badge of honour!

And at least they had the good will to drop the Gothic name entirely now.
By meomy1941 (I just got here) on Nov 15, 2012
Sorry, but I just finished Gothic 4 and loved that game. The graphics are some of the best I have ever seen for a PC game, and I don't like most of them. So, I am now trying to play Arcania, Fall of Setarrif FLT. But I am stuck inside some cave with fire pits, and cannot find any help anywhere on the Web. So I may not finish it - and it isn't as good as Gothic 4 so far anyway.