Avadon 2 Review
As someone who enjoys video games, specifically RPGs, to the point of wanting to review them, it makes for an interesting task. Sometimes, games come along that don't really grab you, yet you have to continue playing them in order to finish the review. Sometimes a game comes along that, when you play it, the hours seem to melt away and the review writes itself. Then, there are the rare game that drops into your lap every once in awhile that are so good, they capture your imagination from the beginning and remind you why you loved gaming in the first place. Avadon 2: The Corruption, the newest offering from veteran indie-RPG developers, Spiderweb Software, is a shining example of a game that will completely absorb your entire being for the many hours you spend playing it. Let's take a more in-depth look at what the game has to offer.
When a great RPG comes together, for me, it starts with an engrossing story. The story in Avadon 2: The Corruption is one of political intrigue and war. The Pact, the ruling body of the land, is seemingly crumbling around you, and it's up to the military power of Avadon to try and defend it. It sounds simple enough, but there are many delicate layers underneath the surface. Avadon itself has recently been attacked, and some question how powerful the once-almighty Avadon really is. Some also question Avadon having ultimate power to do what they want, with sometimes questionable means, which leads to many varied opinions on how they operate. Meanwhile, the rebels fighting the Pact are getting bolder, and something stirs behind the scenes that threatens the land even worse than the war. You start as a scout for the Pact, and things slowly start to unravel, bringing in themes of corruption, politics and decision making for what you believe is the good of the world. However, each decision has consequences, and people are affected by what you are trying to do.
The story itself is presented in descriptive text boxes as you progress in the game, and they become an integral part of your journey. Appearing so frequently, in fact, that the game feels as if you are playing an interactive storybook, complete with interesting characters, well-written dialog and some tough decisions to make along the way. It should be emphasized how interesting the script is here, as it is very immersive and detailed, and the level of writing is professional and descriptive. The pacing at which the story unfolds is also done very well, and there is always something interesting waiting for you around the next corner. The game offers you some choices to make in dialog as well, and this is a welcomed addition that adds some great role-playing opportunity to the game. You can anger certain characters/NPCs, make decisions that change the situation at hand quite drastically, and you are never quite sure how a given situation is going to play out.
What would a great story be without great lore providing a foundation for it? The lore in Avadon 2 does not disappoint. The world is a dangerous one, with deadly titans spotted outside of their mountain homeland, packs of small, humanoid wretches running around generally causing chaos, and the deadly Corruption, a hostile magic force which devours all life in its path, seems to be spreading. Your usual RPG villains can be found roaming the lands, such as skeletons, giant rats, spiders and hellhounds, but there are some unique enemies as well, such as shades called zephyrs that can speak like humans, the aforementioned vicious, 12-foot tall titans, and even powerful drakes that can be tamed and serve as a pet for certain NPCs in the game. The game also provides you with a codex of lore that is updated when you find various books in the game. The books are usually only a few paragraphs of descriptive text, which makes it easy to absorb everything and not be completely overwhelmed. The entire dialog system in the game, in fact, gives you just enough information to be nicely detailed, yet not so much that you are slogging through walls of text that are numbing your brain. In this regard, you can definitely tell that the team at Spiderweb Software is very skilled and has a lot of experience that they draw upon from their previous work in order to maintain the delicate balance.
Next to the story and lore, exploration plays a huge part in whether or not an RPG elevates to classic status. In Avadon 2, there is a large amount of exploration offered to you, with many secrets to find and unique encounters to be had. The maps themselves are of substantial size, often with multiple routes leading to different things to see and experience. There are some optional maps that open up for certain quests as well, and plenty of optional side content in the maps that you must explore. One can get lost in the middle of some of these huge expanses, but thankfully, the mini-map provides an excellent way to keep track of where you are. You never actually do get lost thanks to it, and the fog-of-war covering unseen parts of the map assures that you can quickly discern where you've been and where you still need to go. You will find many things in your travels, from hidden loot caches, to interesting NPCs you can interact with, and sometimes, gather quests from, to burned out forts to explore and everything in between. As I said earlier, you are never quite sure what's around the next corner, so it's best to save often. You may encounter some powerful, crazed wizard who wants to end your life, or a band of wretches led by an enraged titan that happened to have claimed the surrounding area as their hunting grounds. It can't be overstated how intriguing the exploration is as a whole, especially when you visit an area for the first time. Half the fun in Avadon 2 is uncovering all areas of the map and seeing what there is to be found, and the game certainly excels in this area.
During your exploration, you are going to encounter a wide range of deadly foes that you must deal with in combat situations. Combat is turn-based and is seamlessly integrated into the game world. Outside of combat, you simply click your mouse on the map to move your characters. When combat starts, the game switches to a tactical grid where your party takes turns with the enemies in battle. You can control 3 party members at one time, and there are a total of 5 classes to experiment with. I find that the classes are nicely balanced and provide unique charact7eristics among them. A Shaman, for example, is much more adept at buffing your allies and debilitating your enemies, whereas a Sorcerer deals in high damage spells that can kill your opponents in a more direct way. Blademasters are the tanks in shining armor of the party, but can also be huge damage dealers, or serve a more utility function. (It should be noted here, that all classes can emphasize one of three available specializations - Battle, Power, or Utility. You are not limited to one path and can mix and match freely, giving the game some nice depth. More about that later.) Shadowwalkers are skilled rogues, and Tinkermages provide a good utility class that specialize in dropping turrets and tinkering with traps and locks. Combat overall manages to stay fresh and exciting throughout, and becomes especially fun when you encounter boss enemies or any number of tough encounters along the way. The combat overall is simple, yet strategic, and you will need to make full use of your available skills, potions and tactics to survive the tougher encounters.
Character development is another aspect of the game where Spiderweb Software offers you a myriad of ways to express yourself. Each character in your party will level up, and you have the option of putting points into one of four stats, such as Strength, or Dexterity. Every 5 levels you get a bonus point to distribute into a specialization, which boosts one of the three available rows of skills in your skill tree (as I mentioned earlier). You also get points to distribute into the various skills in the skill tree upon each level up, and there are plenty of customization options to play around with here. Do you want your Blademaster to be a unyielding tank, with endless amounts of health and an ability to absorb all of the enemies attacks? You can do that. Or, maybe you want your Blademaster to be more offensive-oriented, to dispatch your foes quicker rather than soaking up damage. In that case, you would focus on a higher Strength stat and put points into your Battle specialization so you can deal more damage. In any great RPG, character development and customization is a huge aspect, and Avadon 2 hits the mark quite nicely. The game also has your party members leveling up even if they weren't involved in combat. This means, that if you haven't used a character in awhile, if you finally do decide to give them a try, they will be the same level as your main characters and won't have fallen behind. This also means you will have to distribute level up points for as many levels as they need to catch up. This gives you great freedom in crafting the perfect party, but it also means some initial confusion if you aren't yet up to the task of figuring out how you want to develop your characters before knowing how they will perform in battle. It's a trade-off, and in my eyes, it's a smart one, in favor of giving you more customization. If you later decide you have misappropriated your points, you can talk to a special NPC that will restore your character to a blank slate to try again.
Quests and companions
Like any good RPG, quests play a large role in the game. There is, of course, the main quest to complete, which sends you to many exciting locations and places with interesting lore behind them. There is also a multitude of side missions to complete. These range from clearing out "pests" in various dungeons, to searching for missing Hands of Avadon (the warrior caste of Avadon), to some special non-combat missions that require you to gather information and make a decision at the end. The quests in the game are well done and immersive, with enough intriguing content to make you want to complete them, as well as nice lore tie-ins that keep the world evolving before your eyes. It should be noted that this is not a completely linear game - there are quite a few side quests to take at any given time, and more unlock as you progress through the main story. A nice aspect of the quest system is that one NPC may give you a quest now, and when you finish it, will tell you to come back later and they may have more work for you. Come back after you've progressed the main story a bit further, and those characters will have new tasks lined up for you.
As you know by now, you won't be questing alone. If you've played a Bioware RPG before, such as Dragon Age, you know that interesting companions can add some great elements to your adventure. Avadon 2 takes a similar approach, offering you an assortment of companions to join you on your travels. Each character has a unique personality that develops over the course of the game, and you will spend quite some time getting to know them and earning their trust. There are some unique dialog opportunities to be had, both out in the field and back at headquarters. Depending on who is currently in your party, they may notice different things about the environment you're in and comment appropriately. They all have their little quirks which makes them interesting, such as Alcander's hate of Avadon for drafting him, to Khalida's strange "episodes" where she stares blankly into space and stops talking. You can learn more about these character quirks as you play the game, and sometimes new quests will unlock just by talking to your team members and exploring their stories. The game also features multiple endings, and by getting to know all the members of your crew better, the better endings will be opened up to you.
Inventory and loot
In any good RPG, you can expect loot and inventory management to keep you busy during your adventure. Avadon 2 delivers everything you'd expect from a typical RPG in the inventory and loot systems, with a few nice surprises. Much to my liking, there is a nice array of weapons, armor and accessories that you can equip on all of your characters, as well as a decent selection of potions, scrolls, and unique items to tinker with. Not only can you equip your typical weapons, armor, and accessories, you can equip special scarabs that give you various bonuses, from granting you an ability to heal yourself, to the ability to perform special magic attacks, or even passive bonuses that bolster your character in some way. The world is also fleshed out with mundane items you'd expect to see in an Elder Scrolls game, such as pots, jugs, brooms, and other various fodder that doesn't seem to serve much of a purpose, other than just making the world more believable. All the items appear in the game world in real-time, and you can see that sword lying on the table, that shield on the floor next to the chair, or that mug of ale on the bar. There are also some crafting opportunities to be had in the game. Depending on what rare materials you find, you may be able to find a skilled tradesman who can transform them into something useful for you. It's also nice that there is a theft system in the game, and if you have enough lock picks and no one is watching you, you can grab those coins and that shiny enchanted helmet out of that NPC's wardrobe without them ever knowing you did it.
Graphics and sound
Graphics and sound are two areas where I feel some of the gaming community will have split reactions. Let's be honest here, this isn't Skyrim, it's not photo-realistic, nor is it trying to be. The style reminds me of an old-school game from the 90s, such as Fallout, or Baldur's Gate. However, that doesn't mean the graphics are bad, quite the opposite, really. What's presented graphically here is very detailed, crisp and concise, with a high attention to detail. The isometric style is done very well overall, managing to balance the tricky footing between old-school without being outdated. While the graphics are old-school, the overall graphical presentation is fresh, with detailed animations that add richness to the game. Little things, such as entering an area during a rain storm, or shooting your bow at an enemy from a distance, add a nice touch to the overall atmosphere and presentation.
Sound is another area where some might be divided, as the only music you will hear in the game happens on the starting menu and nowhere else. However, in place of the music is a detailed background of sound effects and atmospheric tracks. You will hear birds chirping, grass rustling, winds howling, strange sounds in caves and much more. It sets the atmosphere quite nicely and I didn't find myself missing the music much. Again, some may disagree here, but I do like the minimalistic approach they took to creating atmosphere. When you are in the Corruption, it feels like you are exploring a desolate wasteland. When you're in a cave, you feel like you're underneath the ground. Sound effects in battle are solid and are everything you'd expect from a sound design aspect. However, if you're looking for memorable music in your RPGs, you're not really going to find that here.
Odds and ends
There are a few things that I want to talk more about that really enrich the game by how well they are executed. The user interface, for example, is a joy to use. Everything seems to be in its right place, it's very easy to use and does not get in the way of your fun, at all. The controls also stay out of your way, and there is a high level of keyboard support offered. Being able to access your abilities by simply pressing the "a" key, and then selecting an ability with a letter on the keyboard is a great feature that makes using your skills a breeze. Also, the game is seemingly bug-free. The only example I found of a bug happened one time, when I clicked my party to move across the map to a new area, and for some reason, one party member stayed behind. When I realized what had happened, I had to click the map again and then he started to move. Other than that, I experienced no bugs of any sort, and the game was rock solid overall.
It wouldn't be a fair review if I didn't point out the "perceived negatives" that I experienced during my play-through. For the most part, they are minor, and I may seem to some like I'm nitpicking here, but a few things need to be mentioned. For example, trying to find an NPC you need to talk to for a quest in a large, maze-like map can be a little difficult. You should make mental notes (or even physical notes) as to where named NPCs are located, in case you need to talk to them again in the future. Another little quirk in Avadon 2, is the fact that the maps are so large, navigating from one side to the other without any encounters in between can be a bit tedious. That said, I really love the fact that the maps are large with lots of area to explore and discover, so this is simply a trade-off of having large maps. Thankfully, your characters walk pretty fast, and you can click on the mini-map to center the area you want to travel to, then simply click the map and they will walk to their destination. Also, some might say that there is a bit too much combat at times. I find myself immensely enjoying the combat system, but others who are just trying to progress the story or see more of the world faster may think that combat occurs a bit too frequently. Other than that, I really can't think of anything negative to say about this game.
Old-school RPGs. Aren't they great? What's even better is a modern take on the old-school RPG, which is what we get with Avadon 2. There is an old formula being applied here, something tried and true, but the game doesn't feel old. In fact, it feels like a fresh, exciting adventure that draws heavily from classic games, but at the same time blazes a trail for future games and creates a world that you will want to explore time and time again. The high level of detail and world immersion give the sense that the team at Spiderweb Software are extremely adept at crafting interesting RPGs. There is a lot of content for your money here, and I feel as though this game is one of the best "bang for your buck" titles you can find in RPG gaming. For an asking price of $10 for many hours of high quality content, picking up Avadon 2: The Corruption is a no-brainer, especially for fans of turn-based, story-driven RPGs. If given the chance, this game will consume your life for awhile, and you will be enchanted by the world Spiderweb Software has created for you. I look forward to more games set in this fascinating universe. This studio has been making RPGs for 20 years, and here's hoping for 20 more, if they continue this trend of high quality production.
Avadon 2: The Corruption gets my highest recommendation - a 5 out of 5 rating. The negatives were minor and the positives were many. Do yourself a favor and pick it up now and support this great effort to bring us a quality RPG.
Information aboutAvadon 2: The Corruption
Developer: Spiderweb Software
Play-time: 20-40 hours
Regions & platforms
· Platform: PC
· Released at 2013-10-30
· Publisher: Spiderweb Software
- Well-written dialog makes the world come alive
- A charming universe to explore
- Tons of exploration and character customization
- NPCs can be hard to find on large maps
- Navigation can be a little tricky
- Some down-time walking between locations