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Arcanum: Of Steamworks and Magick Obscura

If you are at least 20 you definitely already heard of this RPG, and maybe you also played it.

Arcanum: Of Steamworks and Magick Obscura is a RPG from August 2001 based in a fantasy world during the industrial revolution.

And it’s finally available on Steam for only 5.99 €!

From its Steam page:

Imagine a place of wonder, where magick and technology coexist in an uneasy balance, and an adventurer might just as easily wield a flintlock pistol as a flaming sword. A place where great industrial cities house castle keeps and factories, home to Dwarves, Humans, Orcs and Elves alike. A place of Ancient runes and steamworks, of magick and machines, of sorcery and science. Welcome to the land of Arcanum.

That is exactly Arcanum. I played this game for so long and completed it so many times. I really loved it, from the first day that I played it, when it was being attached to the monthly newspaper GMC (which sadly does not exist anymore).

What Is Arcanum?

Arcanum, as you already read, is a RPG based in a fantasy world during the industrial revolution. All begins when an airship falls down from the sky, and you are the only survivor.

From there, you start seeking for those evil people who caused this disaster, wandering the world to catch and kill them.

Classes and Builds

Like in any RPG, you can choose many stats for your PG. From the race and the sex, which could be a human, an elf, a dwarf, an orc, or more, to the class, spells and technology skills.

Build your PG and choose the name, class, race, sex and background.

It is very customisable, and the gameplay changes a lot based on what race, class and skills you choose.

I personally always liked to play as an elf sorcerer. Even when I started playing with a different class, I always ended up at some point switching to the sorcerer again.

For a sorcerer class, there are 80 different spells to learn between 16 colleges of Magick. You can be a dark sorcerer, or a healer, or an elemental sorcerer, etc.

Choose between 16 different colleges of Magick.

I used to do a mix of two or three colleges, also because once you advance in the game, one college would just not be enough as you will have enough points to learn the spells of a second and even a third college.

I also tried to be a very technologic dwarf, learning to craft swords, pistols, rifles and explosives, but I didn’t like this class that much, exactly like I didn’t love the pure strength build, where you just go around, wearing your super heavy armor and slaying people with a long sword or with your punches.

But I have to admit that a strength build is almost necessary for some quests in the game and also it’s the easiest to play.

The stronger you are, the more stuff you can carry with you.

One of the central themes in Arcanum is the conflict between magic and technology, so be careful when choosing your character at the beginning of the game.

A magically proficient character won’t be able to use technology effectively, or even kill themselves using a rifle, and vice versa.


From the beginning of the game, you have one mandatory follower, Virgil, that will help you during any mission. He is a healing sorcerer that comes in very handy in many situations during the game.

While exploring the game world, you will find many other followers to hire for your crew, like a strong and dumb orc, or a dark sorcerer, and many others.

Choose between 11 additional followers to play with.

Not all of them can be hired though. It depends on the choices you make in the game. If you are too good with people, you won’t be able to hire a dark sorcerer, and if you don’t have enough charisma, you won’t be able to hire the dumb orc, and so on.

Also, the number of followers that you can hire depends on your charisma. The higher that stat is, the more followers you can have.

Weapons and Spells

As I said earlier, you can choose your own path, and you can obviously choose what kind of weapons you can use.

If you have a strength build, you will probably choose regular weapons, like swords or axes.

If you are a playing with a super technologic dwarf, you will use rifles, pistols and explosives, even those created by yourself.

If you are a sorcerer, you will use spells, choosing between 16 different colleges that changes your game style even if you use the same class.

You can also have a mix of them, you could be a swordsman that can also cast spells. This also leads to you being able to use magic weapons, like enchanted swords.


The world map is very big, not as big as the one of more recent RPGs, but big enough to spend hours moving around and killings mobs, or finding new places hiding special and powerful weapons.

The world map, as seen in the game.

You can move between different places just walking instead of using the fast-travel feature, but I personally never did it because it would take just too much time. Also, while using the fast-travel, you still encounter mobs to kill by time to time. I used it to level up faster, especially at the beginning of the game.

You simply set a very long and weird path to go from point A to point B so that you can have many encounters on your way and level up.

From the beginning, you can’t just go anywhere in the world. You need to advance in the game in order to unlock certain areas, also because it would be totally useless to go in those places before, you would just die in a few seconds.

It also has a day-night cycle.

Is It Worth it?

Why would you ask me that question? Obviously my answer is yes. But, this is a very personal answer. I like it a lot, and it remembers me the first times I played video games when I was a child.

The graphic is not that great, and it’s completely played in isometric view. If you expect a graphic that will kill your expensive GTX Titan X, this is not the game for you, it couldn’t kill even the integrated GPU of the cheapest PC.

But if you only care about the story and you really are into role-playing games, Arcanum could be a very good choice for you, and the price is ridiculous, it’s only 5.99 € on Steam.

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