I was instantly drawn into the world of Arto based purely on its visuals alone, with the mesmerising mish-mash of art styles offering plenty of eye candy in the game’s screenshots and trailers. And you know what? It looks beautiful to play too, with some spectacular sights seen across the game. However, whilst it looks fantastic, the gameplay lacks the same sense of pizazz and polish to keep players hooked in.

Check out some screenshots down below:

Arto puts players in the role of Liv, an Apostle who has been tasked with restoring the world following an event known as the Chromaclysm that robbed it of its colour. With the Divinities that ruled the many lands stripped of their powers, it’s up to you to reignite their capabilities by traversing across the lands, bringing back the missing colour of the lifeless world, and overcoming any obstacles in your path. The narrative does have some interesting ideas and the game fleshes it out by introducing different characters and snippets of lore as you play, so there’s certainly something here for players to invest themselves in. I just found it lacked that special *something* to make it memorable, with the world and its characters easily forgotten once you’ve reached the end.

When it comes to the gameplay, everything takes your typical action-RPG approach, with Liv travelling across the many varied biomes and bringing colour back to them along the way. This was one of my favourite aspects of the experience, with players not having to do anything specific to bring the colour back, but simply seeing the world around them fill with vibrancy and life as they run across it. It looks really pretty in-game and makes for some cool little moments, especially since the game has a fantastic blend of visual styles that give it a unique identity. It’s hard to pick a favourite, but the whimsical way in which the world embraces so many art styles constantly kept me in awe.

“There’s no denying that Arto has a whole lot of heart, but it’s just a shame that the execution doesn’t always hit the mark.”

On the other hand, combat was just… ok. It’s not that Arto does anything bad when it comes to its action, but rather that it doesn’t do anything particularly exciting either. Players can strike out at foes with basic combos across a variety of different weapons, parry or dodge attacks, and even upgrade their own abilities with each weapon, so it has all of the basics expected of the action-RPG genre. It just all felt a bit ordinary, with no showdown in the game offering that sense of excitement to leave me eagerly anticipating each enemy encounter – I just felt like I was going through the motions time and time again. It all looks stylish enough and the boss battles do bring something different to combat and force you to utilise a more strategic approach, but even they lacked that sense of grandeur or excitement to make them feel significant. Add to that a camera that can be a little clumsy as well as controls that can be a little finicky, and it’ll quickly become obvious that combat isn’t Arto’s strongest aspect.

Luckily, the other aspects of the game bring a bit more to the experience. The sheer variety of art styles you encounter across each biome in the game is wonderful (just look at the screenshots to see what I mean), whilst there’s plenty to get stuck into across the game’s many set pieces and side quests that add variety to the experience. There are multiple endings too, with the game giving players the opportunity to leave their own mark on the adventure in their own little way. There’s no denying that Arto has a whole lot of heart, but it’s just a shame that the execution doesn’t always hit the mark.

Check out some screenshots down below:

I’d be remiss not to mention that I encountered a few little technical issues when playing, with the occasional crash, random frame stutters that came from nowhere, and even characters getting stuck in the scenery in-game. I even had one instance where the game didn’t recognise I completed a quest, which was a little bit weird (though not game-breaking, fortunately). I had some other minor complaints too (such as a lack of direction or the poor UI), but they weren’t as distinctly problematic… they were just annoying. It’s clear that Arto could have done with a little bit more work before release, especially since there are neat ideas to be found across the adventure that could have been more impressive with a bit more polish.

Arto Review

Arto is a simply mesmerising game to look at, but the combat and narrative lack the excitement to make it an easy game to recommend. It’s not that anything is bad at all, but rather that it’s all a bit… well… boring. Some of the technical issues didn’t help either, with it clear the game could have done with a little bit more work to fix some of its more obvious problems.

I don’t want to slate the game too much because, as I said, it’s clear it has a lot of heart, and I really loved seeing its explosions of colour as I uncovered the world. It’s just a shame that I didn’t enjoy playing it all that much. With a few updates and patches, it could definitely be a better experience, but as it stands? There are too many better games out there that deserve your attention more.

Developer: OrionGames
Publisher: Freedom Games
Platform(s): PC (Reviewed)
Website: https://store.steampowered.com/app/1906510/Arto/