Jeanne D’Arc

June 4, 2009

The story of Joan of Arc is an intriguing one, one fraught with both the difficulties of reliable historical record, and the manic glee of myth and eulogy. 

The facts of Joan’s life remain, 500 years later, shrouded in uncertainty. But she is an enduring symbol, claims of divine providence and problematic christian overtones notwithstanding. (Her Wikipedia page is excellently balanced)

So when I found that Level-5, the game studio responsible for one of my favourite titles: Professor Layton (We’d really like that sequel now, thank you) had also developed a role playing game called ‘Jeanne D’Arc‘, I was quite pleased. 

The game claimed to be an ‘autre histoire of Joan of Arc, heroine of France.’ Now, Level-5 are an intelligent bunch, and they have a knack for wrapping compelling stories around unique premises. I was expecting a layered interpretation of the Joan of Arc story, perhaps one that cleaved the common ecclesiastical readings of her life, and took a broader look at French society during the Hundred Years War. Joan is fascinatingly divisive as a character: driven, strong, and succeeding against all the odds, but attributing all her drive and ability to a divine hand, claiming to be guided by the ‘voice of God.’

All in all, a fantastic premise for a videogame: and perhaps a chance to prove that the interactive medium can really contribute to a layered, systematic and deeper understanding of complex historical topics. 


Well, okay. I was a bit wrong. 

Jeanne D’Arc offers what I can only call a Cardcaptor Sakura interpretation of the Joan of Arc tale. It replaces political intrigue with demon hordes from the netherworld, and accurate historical representation with a bonkers story about magical armlets. 

This is all, of course, AWESOME: right up there with Pride and Prejudice and Zombies in its importance as historical record. While I still have the faint disappointment of dashed expectations somewhere in the back of my head, most of it disappeared by the time the Lizardmen appeared during the siege of Orleans, and a large anthropomorphic lion claimed to be the leader of the French garrison. 

It’s hard not to be charmed by a game where Jeanne, who looks like this: 


leads the French, who look like this:

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Against the British, who…um….look like this:



My favourite is Henry the VIth, who’s transformed from infant monarch to demonic poster-child:

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P.S: I’m surprised at the lack of concept art and wallpapers for this game on the net, which is a shame because the game is visually excellent. The title screen itself is a stunning piece of art…I couldn’t find it in all it’s glory, but here’s a cross section of what it looks like (without the japanese text, of course):

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