Game Reviews

Arkane Studios Review: Are Arkane Studios Video Games Any Good?

Photograph of the blog post author, Sam Jones

Sam Jones

22.7.2021

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At the centre of the gaming world are game studios. Bringing together a powerhouse of creatives and professionals is what makes a game’s production possible. Graphic designers, developers, programmers, audio engineers, beta testers, no shortage of titles can be found at games studios. Today, we will be reviewing Arkane Studios and some of their most successful games. 

Arkane Studios logo

Games studios are similar to film studios in the sense that we have our favourites. We can rely on them to produce content that will satisfy our gaming needs with each release. This studio is no different. Arkane studios games have gained an almost cult following with their distinguishable style. However, despite their works on a huge franchise, they have also worked on some smaller titles. 

Today we will be taking a look at who Arkhane Studios are and what they work on. After discussing some of their most successful games we will take a look at some alternative studios. 

Who Are Arkane Studios?

arkane studios office

Founded in 1999, Arkane Studios has grown to become one of the most renowned and critically acclaimed development teams in the video game industry. They have produced successful titles such as Dishonoured over the past 20 years. 

Raphaël Colantonio was originally a designer for EA in the 1990s. After disagreeing with a few changes at EA, he decided to leave and form his own company in 1999 to create more immersive games. This was the birth of Arkane Studios. Originally based in Lyon, the studio grew to have a facility in Austin, Texas also. Arx Fatalis, an RPG released in 2002 was the first game they produced.

Commissioned by Bethesda Studio, Arkane developed its first big title. to develop its first big title now also joined by the new creative director, Harvey Smith. This has later gone on to become their most successful franchise

What Does Arkane Studios Do?

arkane 20 years anniversary poster

Arkane is a studio known for developing mostly Windows and PlayStation accessible games with a few exceptions. They are widely known for producing very unique and immersive games with a hand-crafted approach. 

Through the studio’s life, Dishonored has become an award-winning title. With the first release in 2012, the franchise has gained the studio a respectable name with 3 games overall in the series. Despite being one of the more recognisable titles, this is certainly not the limited of what they have produced. 

What Games Have Arkane Studios Made?

Now that we’ve discussed a bit of their background, let’s discuss some Arkane Studios video games. 

Dishonored 

Dishonored

The Dishonored franchise is certainly the most notable to come out of the studio. Instead of talking about all 3 of the titles separately, we decided to keep them all together. 

You play these partly RPG stealth-based games in a steampunk fantasy world. With the boom of the industrial revolution comes the rise of science and technology. However, each game links the protagonist to a more archaic, magic-driven source of power. A godlike being called the Outsider is what grants players otherworldly powers giving them the ability to bend space and time. 

Dishonored 

The first Dishonored was released in 2012 and is available to play on all consoles as well as Windows. After being framed for murdering his lover and Queen, Empress Jessamine Kaldwin, Corvo Attano is the protagonist of this game is given the mark of the Outsider. Your goal is to restore your honour by seeking revenge against the corrupt powers above. Your daughter, Emily Kaldwin, is the rightful Queen and it is your duty to restore her to the throne. 

This game was received well and set the franchise up for what it is today. Metacritic gave the game a score of 91/100 as well as being nominated for several awards. The Game Critics Award for Best Action/Adventure, Best Console Game, Best Original Game, and the overall Best of Show award to name a few. The game’s individual narrative and the ability to complete it how the player sees fit are widely recognised as successful aspects of the game.

Dishonored 2 

This game is based 15 years after the events of the original game. This time, based in a different location, the player can choose to play Carvo or his daughter Emily. This time the two set out to defeat Delilah Copperspoon after she rebuilt her coven and conspirators who have taken over the thrown. 

Its stealth approach and providing a rare opportunity to play as a female protagonist received much credit. Released in 2016 this game was a bit hit.

Dishonored: Death Of The Outsider

This entry is a stand-alone following characters unrelated to the previous games. Instead, we play as Billie Lurk, as she travels to join her old boss on a mission. Their mission is to kill the Outsider. It still won the Ping Award for Best PC Game as well as seeing a favourable critical response despite the storyline not being received as well as the other games. 

Prey 

Prey

This first-person shooter is based in an alternate reality where humans have discovered space-traveling technology much earlier on. You explore the space station Talos 1 playing as Morgan Yu whilst researching a hostile alien force. Upon gaining resources and abilities the station is free to explore as an open world. 

It was published by Bethesda Softworks and received mixed reviews. Praised the most was the atmosphere and setting of the space station. However, the combat play saw some mixed responses. Compared to the release of the Dishonored titles it was a big letdown even though the response was generally favourable.

BioShock 2 

BioShock 2

Arkane Studios along with 2K Marin, 2K Australia, and Digital Extremes developed BioShock 2. Despite not being the head developers, this title deserves a mention purely for its influence on the gaming community. BioShock is an iconic franchise that has entertained many a gamer

The story takes place in the hidden underwater world of Rapture. Free from the rules of society, people here start to gain superhuman powers from a process called “splicing”. You play as Big Daddys, the protector of the Little Sisters whose role is to collect and recycle the substance that gives people powers. The city descends into chaos and becomes a crumbling dystopia. 

Being part of such an iconic franchise set the game up for a successful release. In its first week of sales, it became the best-selling game for Xbox 360 in both the Uk and North America. By March 2010, a month after its release, the game had sold 3 million copies which didn’t quite beat the original titles of 4 million copies. 

Metacritic gave the game a score of 88/100 reflecting its success. delving deeper into the complex history of Rapture was also credited for improving on the original game. Usually, one aspect of a game is well received whilst others, not so much. However, with BioShock 2, the story, gameplay, weapons, and powers are all generally well credited. 

Wolfenstein 

Wolfenstein

Arkane Studios worked on both the Young Blood and Cyberpilot Wolfenstaien games. These are two spinoffs of the original series based around the event of World War 2. Fighting against the occupying Nazis, both games are focused on the French Revolutionist. 

Both games received average reviews but follow the story of the original titles nicely. Praised by many critics was Cyberpilots use of real-life imagery of Nazis. Despite this, Germany decided to only release the game without any of this imagery. Out of the Arkane Studios new games, this is the most recent that has already been released. 

Deathloop 

Deathloop

The next Arkane Studios upcoming game due to be released is Deathloop. The storyline will follow Colt, an assassin stuck in a time loop. Whilst attending a party on an island where strange experiments once occurred, the whole part gets stuck in this loop repeating the party time and time again. However, Colt retains his memories partly learning the behaviours and occurrences of the partygoers. To stop the time loop you must kill 8 targets before the loop resets again. We’ll find out more in September when the game is due to be released.

This game takes inspiration both from Dishonored and Prey giving players a wide variety of abilities and options to complete the game. This narrative of repeating the same gameplay until you complete it perfectly is an unusual concept. We anticipate the release of this game and can’t wait to play it! However, it will only be available to play on Windows, PlayStation 5 but not the Xbox series. 

Alternatives To Arkane Studios

Now that we’ve discussed some of Arkane’s main titles, let’s briefly talk about some alternative studios. 

Bethesda Game Studios 

Bethesda Game Studios

As Bethesda are so involved with Arkane they deserve a mention. It was founded in 2001 retaining all publishing rights with Bethesda Softworks. 

They have released several games with The Elder Scrolls and Fall Out being their focus. This alone makes them a recognisable studio working on such successful titles. This has established them as one of the best games developers in the world.

Once focused on PC, they brought RPGs back into the modern world of gaming. 

Irrational Games 

Irrational Games

Irrational Games have worked on some BioShock titles and the reason we have included them. They worked on Bioshock Infinite as well as Burial At Sea episodes 1 and 2. Originally known as 2K Boston, they were the head developers for Bioshock.

The majority of employees were laid off after a big shuffle around. Only 15 remained after the founder decided he wanted to work on smaller projects. The stress of developing BioShock Infinite was the catalyst for this.

Eidos-Montréal 

Eidos-Montréal

One game has been commonly compared to Dishonored and that is Thief. Also set in a steampunk, dark fantasy world, the similar stealth-based roleplay and setting making it very similar to Dishonored. This is a huge title of Eidos-Montréal.

However, Stealth has not been the main focus of the company. The Deus Ex franchise is the Eidos-Montréal main work. Again this game is quite comparable to Dishonored. Instead, the storyline is based in a realistic futurist world where the players actions don’t affect the gameplay as much as they do in Dishonored. 

Now You Know Everything About Arkane Studios

character from dishonored

That was our review of Arkane Studios! Working on a very specific genre of games has brought Arkane the success it deserves. 

These steam-punk stealth-based games have gained an almost cult following. Dishonored, BioShock, Prey, and Wolfenstein all follow very different narratives but all feel very similar. Retaining this style throughout their different games promises rewarding gameplay if you enjoy their other titles. Deathloop appears to be a huge exception to their usual gameplay and we can’t wait to experience it first hand. 

We hope you enjoyed this review of Arkane Studios and are feeling more knowledgeable about their works. Whilst you’re here, our 343 Industries Review, Blackbird Interactive Review, and Monolith Soft Review are a great look into some other games developers.

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