Exclusive Review: City of Steam: Arkadia

City of Steam - Review - EN


Graphics: 7
Gameplay: 6
Sound: 6

Overall: 6.6

The good: Unique steampunk setting | Better graphics than in most browser games

The bad: Generic gameplay | Ridiculous respawn rate for monsters | The energy system could be annoying


When reading the acronym "MMORPG", the first thing you would probably think of is the typical fantasy game with strongholds, monsters, swords and magic. That's due to the fact that actually 90% of the MMORPGs on the market are keeping the safe track of the fantasy theme which is the mainstream and most loved setting ever since. Over time, however, several development studios tried to offer something new in regards to setting and theme of their games, for example sci-fi game like EVE Online, Anarchy Online, Star Wars Galaxies or SWTOR. With City of Steam: Arkadia, Mechanist Games is now paying homage to the strangely underestimated steampunk setting. This 3D browser game aims at offering a new experience that combines Diablo-style Hack&Slash elements with a full featured themepark MMORPG.

City of Steam screenshot 10

City of Steam: Arkadia is playable either by downloading a micro-client or directly through your browser. Anyway, we were unable to make the client work as it kept giving us an unknown error. We were therefore forced to play through our loyal browser; not really a good start, right? Well, the game was designed as a browser game, so let's start our adventure.

The title is extremely accessible; you only have to register or log-in through Facebook, click on "Play" and wait for a very quick loading bar to complete. There are four available classes: Warder (melee tank), Gunner (ranged physical DPS with pistols and rifle), Arcanist (the steampunk version of the classic sorcerer), and Channeler (magic support), as well as 10 (TEN!) races. Well, four of them are, indeed, different kinds of humans, but each one has its very own background and style: In addition to the human races, the game offers classic elves called Riven, a kind of evil-looking pale elves called Draug, Dwarves, and three kind of greenskins (Goblins, Hobbes and Orcs). Each race's starting clothes and the base equipment of each class already give a glimpse at the importance of steampunk in this game and we imagine a lot of steampunk gamers looking for a new virtual home will be really happy about that.

City of Steam screenshot 8

When entering the real game, we were welcomed by a nice, dubbed cut-scene with animated drawings that told the beginning of the game's main storyline. We later on learned that there are more of these cut-scenes, highlighting the important elements and really helping with immersion through their storytelling.

Another aspect that contributes to immersion is the personal storyline of your character which, quest after quest, involves interesting NPCs, different possible choices for the dialogs and a variety of situations. As for example in the beginning, when something happens (no spoiler) and you have to go through a running train from one car to the other, freeing it from monsters.

The steampunk setting is extremely well designed and polished; there are copper and bronze steam machines, smokestacks, locomotives, motorbikes,  jetpacks, and robots everywhere to be found, even typical fantasy elements like swords and staves have a strong steampunk flavour!

Regarding graphics, the game makes use of the powerful Unity engine to sport a fully 3D world right in your browser. Textures and details of a lot of characters, armour and item models are enjoyable but in no way surprising (we've alreday seen much better results with the Unity). While, on the one hand, a lot of the closed spaces such as dungeons are just uninspiring and boring, open spaces such as cities are amazing, rich in details and characters, alloowing the chance to enjoy an impressive depth of field. Sadly, the character animations are a little stiff and could definitely have got more attention.

City of Steam screenshot 6

When it comes to gameplay, this is where things start to deteriorate. The controls are exactly the same ones that themepark MMORPGS got you used to over all those years: WASD or mouse click to move, mouse to interact/attack/move camera and number keys for your skills. That's really it. The responsiveness is not at all the best we've ever seen and combat felt a little clumsy and laggy.

A nice addition, however, is the possibility to equip your character with three different weapon sets, such as dual wield, two-handed, one-hand and shield, which can quickly be switched with just one click when you are out of combat. The fun thing is that each weapon will always be displayed on your character; so with just a rifle and two pistols, our character lookes like a moving armoury. Leveling up, you will be able to develop your character as usual by advancing in different skill trees.

The progression in-game is extremely linear and based on the classic chain of quests. From what we were able to see, in City of Steam quests are, however, all based on the same concept; enter a combat area and fulfill all the quest requirements, which usually involve killing a certain number of monsters, collecting a certain number of money and slaying a boss. When you are done, you will be rewarded and can go to the next area or back to town. While this could be fun for some time, we can easily imagine that after a while a lot of players could find it grindy and monotonous.

There are other activities such as fishing, mining, crafting, and at certain point you will obtain a cool steampunk motorbike you can upgrade to make it faster and fancier. Nevertheless, we're uncertain about for how long this could keep the MMORPGs crowd entertained, as the entire experience feels just... old. It isn't a BAD game, let's clarify this, but there aren't true innovations or truly unique features besides the steampunk setting. And if you are a veteran MMO player, you will continuously have the subtle feeling of having already played the game and already seen everything.

City of Steam screenshot 4

In addition, there are other aspects in the game's design that we didn't like at all. First of all the fact that you have a certain amount of "energy" and entering the quest areas requires to spend some of this energy, which regenerates over time, exactly like in Facebook games. While during the first levels this wasn't a problem at all, it could become frustrating later on for players who play a lot, forcing them to pull out the purse to go on playing.

The second thing is that the monsters' respawn rate is ridiculous. Let's say you are in a dungeon and there are two groups of monsters in front of you. You kill the first, go to fight the second and while finishing it off, the first group pops out again behind you, coming to attack. Luckily, the normal monsters were usually weak and we always managed to kill all of them, but sometimes it was really annoying.


City of Steam: Arkadia is a browser-based, full featured 3D themepark MMORPG. With its pretty unique setting, it is probably able to make steampunk fans waiting for a real steampunk MMORPG happy. Besides that, however, the game hasn't anything truly innovative or original to offer, and the whole experience suffers from a severe case of "more of the same", a widely spread disease among modern MMORPGs. While being technically good for a browser game, there are moreover some strange design choices which could annoy some players.

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