Aarklash is a combination of contemporary gameplay concepts packaged in a thoroughly enjoyable original game world. The real-time tactical gameplay may be paused for strategy and intelligent action queuing at any time, akin to Bioware's Mass Effect or Dragon Age series. This does a fine job of straddling the line between overwhelmingly reactionary (hardcore RTS) and drudgingly micromanagey (omg stahp, Sid Meier) to land in a comfortable sweet spot.
Core character roles are all familiar and easy to spot, ie DPS, Tank, Support, and perhaps overly so. While you can re-spec skill points any time you aren't in combat and sans penalty, nothing will change the pigeonholed duties of any single character. Different characters do, however, provide equally different approaches to those roles. Your high-armor taunty starting tank feels utterly different from the high-HP drainy tank introduced later. Your AoE stun battlefield mage DPS is wholly unique from the fear kiting AoE burst damage lich DPS. Skill points can dramatically change the implementation of a skill. One skill tree path alters a targeted taunt into an aggro-stacking aura, as an example. Balance is maintained well enough that I never found myself forced into a specific team for pure efficacy, and I appreciated that, too.
Aarklash's (Aardvarks?) visuals and style are also quite original. The graphics avoid eye bleedingly generic, but never so artsy or stylized that anything becomes abstract. The audio always feels appropriate and organic, managing to be pleasant without standing out in most cases. I never had any "just walked into Gestahl's Magitech facility" moments, here.
Most characters deserve genuine emotional investment. Dialog (with decent voice acting) and individual foibles are believable as well as interesting. The giant, ruthless, kangaroo/lizard-booty'd, test-tube grown, magical cyborg miner-slave-become-indentured-bounty-hunter, armored tank girl just happens to also
be everyone's sweet, caring, occasionally naive, gentle voiced, younger "sister" stand-in and I never questioned it once. The people on both sides of the over-arching power struggle had no clear moral high ground. Your heros and their guildmates are emphatically not "good" people but neither are they evil. Their motives are usually easily understood but subjective morality is a significant factor for precisely nobody. Both protagonists and antagonists are driven by a combination of geas'd contracts, pseudofamilial loyalties, and outright selfishness.
The story was quirky, unless the last paragraph didn't make that obvious, but ultimately disposable. The developer did a great deal of world building and complex background development... then slapped a generic "run from the crooked law and find the macguffin" Hollywood plot on top. There was not a great deal of character growth either, which I felt was a real shame.
I had a lot of fun playing the game and would cheerfully play it again were an iota of reason to do so present. The downside from the flexibility of free skill respecs lies in there being no real point to starting over to see how a totally different build would handle the game's events. Equipment is just random stacks of minor stat boosts, rarer items simply having more picks from the general pool of boosts and higher levels providing slightly less minor boosts. There's no real grinding, collecting, or optimization to be had here by the hardcore gamer.
Aarklash: Legacy seems to have suffered from a lot of player butt-hurt stemming from a steep difficulty curve. The game is challenging in the classic sense. That said, nearly every party wipe I experienced was perfectly preventable without any foreknowledge if I'd more closely observed enemy stat boxes and spell countdowns. The gameplay tutorial even stresses that the player must
be attentive to these resources. I felt combat was entirely fair with reasonable demands on my decidedly average skill level. The game is first and foremost a squad-based strategy RPG. If you go into it expecting a pick-up-and-master casual or arcade game you're going to be brutallized, and deserve it. I felt it was slightly more forgiving than Final Fantasy Tictacs (PSX), if simply for the fact that the most devastating boss actions are interruptable or redirectable while mid-cast.
Overall, I'd have to give the game a 7.5 out of 10. The minimal replay value and disappointing story were the only serious downsides. The musical score, while inoffensive, was also inconsequential. Where Aarklash really shines is in the moment; during a dicy moment in combat or affectionate banter between morally ambiguous guildmates, the time just flies by.