Arcanum: Of Steamworks and Magick Obscura (more commonly known as Arcanum) is a role-playing video game developed by Troika Games and published by Sierra Entertainment. It was released in North America and Europe in August 2001 for Microsoft Windows. Debuting at fourth position on NPD Intelect's best-seller list, it was Troika's best-selling title with 234,000 copies sold and with takings of US$8.8 million.
Reviews have been mostly positive, with IGN scoring it 8.7 and conferring the IGN Editors' Choice Award on August 24, 2001. PC Gamer and GameZone awarded Arcanum 90 out of 100, with the latter also conferring its Editors' Choice accolade. The Electric Playground awarded the game 9 out of 10, calling it "the most diverse and open-ended RPG to date." The game currently holds an average review score of 79% on GameRankings and 81% on Metacritic.
The story takes place on the continent of Arcanum, which despite its initial fantasy setting, has just started going through an industrial revolution. The story begins with the crash of the zeppelin IFS Zephyr, of which the protagonist is the only survivor, which leads him throughout the land in search of answers. The game employs an isometric perspective and features an open game world where the protagonist can travel unhindered.
Gameplay in Arcanum consists of traveling through the game world, visiting locations and interacting with the local inhabitants, typically in real-time. Occasionally, inhabitants will require the player's assistance in various tasks, which the player may choose to solve in order to acquire special items, experience points, or new followers. Many quests offer multiple solutions for the player, depending on his playing style, which may consist of combat, persuasion, thievery, or bribery. Ultimately, players will encounter hostile opponents (if such encounters are not avoided using stealth or diplomacy), in which case they and the player will engage in combat, which can be real-time or turn-based.