Rise of the Argonauts
has all the earmarks of an epic game full of rich story and massive battles. Unfortunately, while the game more than delivers on the story, the battles themselves leave something to be desired.
When our tale begins, Jason, King of Iolcus is about to marry his life-long love, Alceme, Princess of Mycenae. The wedding ceremony is interrupted when an assassin from a cult thought long-dead appears and kills Jason's love. Now Jason, with the blessings of the gods, takes to the seas to find some way to revive his queen. While the story for this game is only loosely based on the myth (quite frankly, many of the details and motives don't match the myth at all), it is still a grand adventure. Jason (and his friend Hercules) first travel to Delphi, the home of Apollo's Oracle. It is here where he is told to find the Golden Fleece in order to bring back his lady. It is here where he is told the only way to get the Fleece is to find decedents of three gods, Ares, Hermes and Athena, and it is here where his quest truly begins.
The game is divided into several parts. First, there is what happens on Iolcus before Jason even sets sail, then his trip to the three islands where the descendants can be found and finally Jason's battle to actually get his hands on the Golden Fleece and his return to Iolcus. Along the way, Jason will meet many people from the different lands, and several of them will join him on the Argo. These include the huntress Atalanta, the master blacksmith Daedalus, Achilles, Pan, the witch Medea and, of course, the three descendants of the gods.
As I mentioned before, what Rise of the Argonauts really needs more of is fights. That isn't to say there aren't any, there's just not enough. I'm a fan of dialogue-heavy games as much as the next person (heck, my library of adventure games is a testament to the fact), but if there were any few actual fights in this game, it would be an adventure title. Put simply, the game is filled with long story and character development quests peppered with short fights against several waves of enemies. Once the fight is done, you put your weapons away and go on to more dialogue and quests.
As for the fights you do have, they were typically fun and got my heart pumping quite a few times, but most of them weren't really challenging. The combat system itself is interesting in that you have three weapons: a mace, a spear and a sword. Each one has various pros and cons and can be used effectively in conjunction with your shield. During your adventure, you will find newer versions of these weapons, and each has their own benefits. Each weapon is also favored by one of the game's patron gods and the more skillfully you use them, the more favor you gain for that god (but more on that system later).
As you might have guessed, dialogue is an important aspect to Rise of the Argonauts. When talking to the many people of the world, you will be asked to make choices in what you say. Well, that isn't entirely true. No matter your choice, you will always say basically the same thing... you will pretty much always get the same end result, the choice you get is how you say it. There are up to four different ways to respond in a dialogue tree, one for each of the four gods (Ares, Apollo, Athena and Hermes). Answering the different ways will illicit different responses from some NPCs, but for the most part, it will just curry favor with a particular god and give you more points towards them (again, more on this point and god favor system later).