Arknights

Arknights is the latest game published by Yostar. Developed by Hypergriph, it seems like it’s veteran developers of Girls Frontline who decided to make their own tower defense, in a dystopian modern world.

Considering the title of this blog, it’s not too far fetched for me to write about games, especially mobile one. I have been playing gacha game since 2012, with some pause between. The list of games I have played quite a lot on top of my head is Valkyrie Crusade, Chain Chronicles, Granblue Fantasy and right now, it’s Princess Connect Re:dive. Arknights released in January, and I jumped in a bit after.

Story

Arknights takes place in a modern world in which people use Originium as a power source. However, Originium is responsible for Catastrophe which are akind to natural disaster, and also, infect people with an incurable disease named Oripathy. It grants them higher Art power (magic), at the cost of either mobility, sense, and in the end life. Infected are discriminated against as Oripathy is transmissible, leading to massive conflicts as a group named Reunion resort terrorism to stop the oppression against infected.

Dr Doctor

In this world, the player is the amnesic Doctor of Rhode Island Pharmaceutical, a company which treats infected and promote cohabitation between infected and non infected. However the company is also fighting against Reunion, and thus the patient of Rhode Island are also operators on the field.

The story starts as the Doctor is reanimated, and is immediately thrown onto the battlefield as a commander. Story is delivered through visual novel style dialogues. However the main story tosses the player without much explanations about all the things I just explained.

In order to fully appreciate it, the lore must be pieced together. The title screen is very helpful for the lore, but a little database for terms and location would be welcomed. The world seems so vast as different places and organization are mentionned, yet there is not much informations.

Characters’ background is available in their files little by little as you gain their trust. This complement them well, or otherwise they would be very plain. Their background is delivered either as testimony from other operators, reports, or other formats. Some of them led twisted lives. It’s very interesting.

So far, I finished chapter 5. The story is decent once I got my footing in it. The world is very bleak, dystopian, as it’s constant fighting, and people being sick and mistreated. Rhode Island feels more like a Private Military Company than a pharmaceutical one, so it’s bit odd as well. Lots of thing are unsaid so far; some can be guessed, other are for later twist.

Finally, if that matters to you, there are lots of meme by the community.

Visuals

Coming from the highly polished games from Cygames and seen some other Chinese and Korean mobage, I will be frank to say I was expecting live 2D on my homescreen. Nope, none. Just 2D art from several artist. Still, they are very good artworks and they got some big names like Anmi to illustrate Eyjfalla. Each character has at least 2 illustrations, and more if they have skin, where they pose as if they are feature on the front page of a fashion magazine.

Goat kouhai

Of course, this mean that there is a mix of artstyle, but they are all high quality, whether the operator has low or high rarity. Hell, even a 1* will get a summer skin later.

The interface has some very slick and modern design. It’s effective, and easy to navigate.

Featuing Texas in her Cambrian outfit!

During battle, the field is an isometric map where characters are 2D chibi sprite, with just a front and back version.

Animations are quite bare but detailed and more than enough to convey the actions. Each characters have at least a walking, attacking, and poking animation. A bit of polish is lacking in the dormitory, where there is no transition animation when a character sits, but here I’m nitpicking as not every game can be Priconne in production value. Just poke them.

Lastly, story, aside of portraits also have more illustrations for key moments. They also have multiple backgrounds illustrations which is welcomed as the informations on places are barebone.

Sounds

Once again, my expectations weren’t met. The main story doesn’t have any voice acting! Now that this is out of the way, we can talk about what they got right.

First of all, each operators are voiced by Japanese VA, which is surprising. I think that even the original Chinese version has them meaning that they probably intended to go international from the start. There is some well known VA like Ayako Kawasumi ( Fate’s Saber ) or Asami Imai ( GBF’s Vira), but also more minor VA. Still, the voice work is good, just not as expansive as I wished.

The music is fitting. I lack the words to describe it, so I will just go with cyberpunk or industrial in style. Good thing I like the main menu music as it’s the one I hear the most. It’s soothing, and provide the respite between battle which has grungy, full of bass and agressive sound.

Sounds effect are fine. They do their job. During battle, sounds effect will probably get repetitive as I’m not sure if there is any alternating sounds when attacking.

Gameplay

Arknights has 2 parts in its gameplay. Primary is the tower defense, and the rest is resource management with a base.

TD is an old genre, so innovating isn’t easy. And I’m not sure if there is anything new brought to the genre. But it’s a solid game. You pick the operators, choose their position and direction, activate their skill when needed all while managing their deployment cost.

Volcano eruption in 3, 2, 1

Operators are divided in 8 classes and depending on the map, you will have to change teams. While at first it seems simple, it will quickly ramp up in difficulty, providing puzzle problems to the players. Aiming for perfect clear is greatly encouraged as you get auto deploy for hands free material farming and better reward. It’s really intellectually stimulating. Thanks god there are free practise run. Next, skip tickets please!

Full formation for Annihilation 3, the 400 kills challenge map ( that run failed )

Now, resource management is divided between sanity, lmd, exp record, furniture parts, and lots of upgrade materials.

Sanity is the stamina of the game. Is it a subtle way to say that people playing are insane? Who knows. But it’s the resource you will have to manage carefully especially during limited time events. It burns very fast so you may find yourself just playing 10 minutes per day, just launching auto deploy on farming map. So far though, the game has been giving lots of free refills.

The other resources will be used to upgrade your operators or the base. Operators need exp record, lmd and specific materials for level up,promotions or skill upgrades. Promotions is the most expensive upgrade as it improves stats, passive and grant new skills. Some characters are great only once promoted.

Base building will allow the production of these different resources. You will need to assign operators to the different facilities depending on their skill to get everything running efficiently. And the dormitories are where you can use your furniture parts to show off your interior architectural skills.

I will admit of using the premade template for my dorms

So far I have spent lots of resource to upgrade both characters and base. From time to time, I’m progressing through the stories as they provide the challenge which makes the upgrade worthwhile. If you are only interested in the story, it’s not a smooth sailing. Chapters 4 and 5 will start to push for your tactical skill, and more challenging content is planned.

Monetization

Is it F2P friendly? So far yes. You will find guides on Youtube to clear maps with low rarity operators. It will just be more precise execution and perhaps harder than with high rarity. Actually, it’s encouraged to invest in the low rarity operators at the beginning as they are cheaper and the deployment cost are lower.

Operators moreover are available outside of gacha, through recruitments, store or events.

Gacha currency, orundrum is farmable every week with the Annihilation maps, and really, if you already have everything, you can produce it in your base.

The gacha’s banner guarantee you at least one 5* or superior in the first 10 rolls. This mean you can just do single rolls to get it, unlike other games which would have this every 10 pulls. It’s both good and bad. Some 5* operators are great and better than 6*, so you can get them for less than 10 rolls, but you are limited at one per banner.

Latest banner, I got Meteorite as my guaranteed which is as good as a 6*

Every rolls after are left to the rates. 6* which is the max rarity, only have a probability of 2% of being rolled. However the game has a pity rate which start after 50 rolls. For each rolls past 50, the 6* rate increase by 2%. By 60 rolls, you would have 12% of getting a 6. Of course the pity rate resets once you get a 6 but it does transfer between most banners.

So, getting operators is not too hard, and there are mechanics in place to guarantee a 6* if you are whaling, but RNG is RNG, you may not get what you want. I can’t be held responsible for your spending!!!

Now, the premium currency is Originite Prime. You can get one for the first perfect clear of a stage, meaning that it’s limited for F2P players. You can convert Origine prime to Orundrum or sanity, but keep in mind it’s the only currency which can buy operator skins.

To buy or not to buy?

Now if you want to spend money, there are some interesting stuff in the shop. You can directly buy Originite prime but it’s more interesting to buy packs which has the same value for Originite but also comes with bonus. The monthly card is good value with 200 orundrum and 60 sanity per day. This allows you to play more and gives 10 rolls each month.

Conclusion

Arknights is an enjoyable game to me. Some people might be put off by the limited sanity and would like to play indefinitely. For those people, go play Granblue Fantasy or Another Eden. The former will use your real life stamina and the later one allows you to play at your own pace. On the other hand, I don’t mind such limitations as it allows me to do other things, but expect to spend some days of just auto deploy for upgrading your operators.

If you can get involved in the tactical part of Arknights, then you will probably enjoy it. It has good production value overall despite feeling cheap on some part, but that could be me being used to other game. I have been playing for a bit more than a month and been enjoying. Theorycrafting and managing resources are strong gameplay point that I like. Now I just hope we get more contents, and free sanity!

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