QCF: Avadon 2: The Corruption

f there's anything the last generation taught us, it's that platform specific experiences are quickly becoming a thing of the past. With fewer and fewer exclusive games, it really doesn't make sense anymore to restrict a game to one system. That is of course, unless the game only really works well on one control scheme.

Avadon 2 is a game like this. With its complex RPG system and familiar top-down keyboard controls, it's very hard to imagine this game being on anything but a PC. In essence it's a shout out to a lost era of PC-centric RPG's- with all the advantages (and flaws) that the genre had to offer. And depending on your tastes it may feel like a tribute to the past, or an insult to it.

As mentioned Avadon 2 is a game that takes heavy inspiration from the top-down RPG's of yore. There's a very Diablo-ish feeling to the gameplay, and you can definitely see some inspiration from the original Fallout. The controls are very similar, with your mouse being your main tool, with keyboard controls for shortcuts. This works well, and as a tried and tested scheme for this kind of game, you can't really fault it.

However it's how these controls are implemented into the core gameplay which matters. I have to say that the way controls are utilized really underwhelms, and in some cases frustrates. While only a tiny jiggle, the scrolling doesn't really work properly, and it's hard to engage some of the monsters due to fights you'll be partaking in. Battles involve entering into your own combat mode, where players can take turns in whacking monsters. When thinking of the ways in which traditional RPG's have used the turn-based system before, this is a neat concept. But alas neat concepts does not necessarily mean good execution and it's at this point where I have to say that this way of fighting soon becomes very tedious. Entering these combat stances makes for a lot of useless fiddling around and taking turns to hit something doesn't thrill you as much as a more conventional turn based RPG would. This is mainly because in those games making your move triggers a spectacle- an animation which gives you the feeling of actually engaging in battle. However, here the animations are lackluster, creating a boring atmosphere when confronted with enemies.

In fact, this lackluster feel unfortunately spreads to the main feelings I endured when playing Avadon 2. There's little production value. The graphics are substandard and the visuals of the world look drab and lack any kind of distinctive flavor. The cutscenes at the beginning hammer this in with it's cheap title cards and text boxes. Of course, this is recap of the first game, and it's nice that it's included at all. Nevertheless, it really sets up a boring mood for the experience and lacks any kind of flair that could convince you of being the epic fantasy trilogy this is planned to be.

The writing also reflects this as the text just doesn't engage you or pull you into the quests very well. Everything seems so straight forward, and again: 'Bland'. There's no real personality to the characters you relate to, and considering the scale and time this adventure takes to play, it really makes you question if staying in this universe is worth the effort invested. Throughout my journey there seemed to be nothing that stood out in terms of writing, and being an RPG this is especially unsatisfactory.

The level design remains similar to the inspirations referenced, although the vast maps quickly rival even the largest of top-down RPG's. There's a lot to do in the game, both story wise and side-quest wise, so addicted players will find new things to discover and places to explore. The shaded areas are uncovered as you progress, giving you the mindset of a traveler exploring unknown destinations and new worlds. Nevertheless, in saying this you have to consider the art style. There's a lot to the game but as explained there just doesn't seem to be a reason to explore. If it makes sense, there's a nice feeling of exploration but an awful blandness when discovering how everything looks strikingly similar.

I have to give it up to Spiderware Software for putting effort into the games content. There are four distinct classes to experiment with and a lot of gameplay to be endured. However, the key word here is 'endured'. I never really felt like I was having any real fun playing Avadon 2 due to the serious pacing issues it suffers from. Everything just feels slow, and I know games of this type often try to ease you into the experience, but this game just cries out for something more exciting. Perhaps this pacing wouldn't be too much of an issue but the rare music just adds to the feeling of annoyance. It's as dull as the world it accompanies, and while this ironically makes it fit in with Avadon 2, it also makes the game feel like more of a slog than it should be.

There's a lot I could mention in this review regarding the mass of content, but in real honesty I don't think there's any reason to mess around with it. There's a more complex stat system lying within the game but I doubt the atmosphere and bland production values will make anyone want to explore the admittedly vast mechanics buried within.

It's such a shame that Avadon 2 has to be like this. There's obviously a ton of effort put into the core content, but if anything this game proves that an experience can't rely on time spent alone. Gaming is a mixed medium that involves art, writing, and visuals, something which Avadon 2 unfortunately lacks.

Thankfully there's a silver lining. These issues could be solved in the next installment when the franchise completes, and the fun hopefully begins.

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