Avadon 2: The Corruption ReviewPC
key review info
- Game: Avadon 2: The Corruption
- Platform: PC
- Gamepad support: No
- Reviewed on:
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Avadon 2: The Corruption is an isometric fantasy role-playing game from Spiderweb Software that offers a very, very old-school experience, including turn-based combat. So old-school in fact that it looks and plays identical to its predecessor. And to its predecessor’s predecessors.
Spiderweb Software is a small indie studio, roughly the equivalent of a one-man band, if you will, with around 20 titles under its belt and close to 20 years of experience in the field. Its games are very particular in that they cater to a very specific and loyal audience that Jeff Vogel has cemented a relationship with over the years.
The story pits players in the struggle between oppressive security and uncertain liberty, as a pawn in the service of Avadon that has to decide the fate of the realm. The warriors and spies of Avadon have kept its enemies divided for ages, and its unquestionable authority has squashed every inkling of rebellion.
But after a surprise attack, its ability to maintain the current order is wavering. Conspiracies from within and countless threats from the outside shatter its grip on the realm even more.
And now, torn between your sworn duty and the reality of the land, you have to see if there is a way to avoid an all-out war that will destroy your homeland, and fight to subdue Avadon’s enemies once again or end its era of abusive rule.
There is plenty of text in this game, and a lot of filler NPCs have some sort of opinion over this or that, not just grunting at you and prodding you along on your path. There is a painstaking level of detail and you can clearly see the dedication and amount of work that went into the production of the game world, from the walls of text to the debris and mundane items lying around everywhere, populating the background in order to provide a richer experience.
The text does seem to be rather long-winded on some occasions, without presenting you with much real content, not even in the realm of choice, as no matter which of the several options you choose, you’ll still end up in the same place you were scripted to.
Another annoying aspect is that the dialogue windows are quite narrow on higher resolutions, making the walls of text more difficult to read due to the frequent fragmentation.
Then again, there’s just something about a world that presents you with some broken bones, a blanket, and a goblet, all of them completely useless but for the fact that you’re in someone’s house and have just killed a rat.
And speaking of the game world and the aforementioned particularity of Spiderweb’s games, the game unveils its mysteries in the form of some timeless sprites. Its graphics may look like the closest thing to a time machine, but they are highly detailed and manage to deliver far more than their 1998 semblance might initially seem to be able to.
There are a lot of graphical cues for both your and your enemies’ spells and abilities, flying missiles, character animations, and a lot of unnecessary details whose only function is to offer a more immersive overall experience and to convince players that they are part of a functioning world.
The dated but tidy graphics are just a medium in which the true core of the game unravels. The gameplay of Avadon 2 is reminiscent of old titles from a long lost time, when Wolfenstein was using mathematics in order to lie to you that it was in 3D.
The game provides hours upon hours of game time, a sprawling world to explore, numerous side-quests and optional areas in what looks like a smorgasbord for classic role-playing game enthusiasts.
Avadon 2 offers five character classes, each with its own array of abilities and its own approach to battling the hordes of enemies you’ll encounter. Along the way, you’ll be able to recruit several companions to add to your party, and you’ll be able to mix and match them according to your preferences.
A very nice feature is that unused characters remain in the keep and train, keeping up with you in terms of level, so you won’t end up with any unused and underpowered characters, and you’ll be able to freely explore all the party-making possibilities.
Character progression is realized through increasing base stats and by exploring the skill tree, with some further specialization between every character’s offensive, defensive, and utility branches adding a small bonus to those respective abilities.
The skill trees include both passive and active abilities and the turn-based nature of combat makes it easy to manage your party and figure out your next best move. Unfortunately, the game’s stuck-in-time mantra also seeps in this aspect of design, the choices for evolving your characters being pretty limited.
At first it’s not as bothersome, but as you progress through the game you just find yourself wishing the dev would have spent more time developing the skill trees into something fresher or at least more interesting, with more options.
Combat is pretty neat overall, but as time passes you’ll find yourself stuck in the same patterns and some interactions seem a bit artificial; for instance, you engage an NPC in some furious texting action, resulting in a surprise attack from you, but the NPCs still seem to be the first to move, which pretty much nullifies your speech option that clearly stated you attack first.
This results in you reloading the game, entering combat, buffing your characters, and then getting the drop on the NPCs in question without so much as a hello, which is just plain rude.
And reloading the game is something you’ll get used to doing, as you’re more than likely to get into a lot more trouble than you can handle. Also, the random number generator gods will also have a strong say during combat, and you’ll be experimenting with several modes of engagement before you find the one that doesn’t make all your enemies hit only one character and kill him before he gets a chance to heal, in spite of the nearby warrior’s taunt.
The game also lacks balance between classes, some of them being underpowered in the beginning and others completely overpowered once they get a taste of glory.
Thankfully, being able to change your party’s composition alleviates some of these problems, allowing you to mix things up in the inevitable long hours you’ll spend fighting.
Which is another gripe with the dialogue system: it seems not to have been designed to allow circumventing combat, and there are some occasions when it would have been a nice touch.
Especially considering that combat sounds quickly become monotonous. Sound production in general could do with some improvements, as noises become quite stale after a while, and the quiet parts become disquieting.
The interface is also a bit clunky, some shortcuts are good but others not quite as inspired. When the screen is cluttered, it becomes hard to see whose turn it is, you don’t have an accurate representation of action points on your characters, and hovering over enemies offers you no information whatsoever, which is disappointing in this day and age.
- Very long
- Evocative of classics
- Lots of narrative
- Looks and feels archaic
- Many glitches
- Sound issues
Considering the scope of the game and the size of the studio, it’s not all that bad. The story has its twists and turns, there are many optional dungeons and quests, your companions have their own motivations and beliefs and remember whether you agreed or disagreed with them, there’s a bit of a moral quandary hovering about, and there are many solid hours of exploring packed in this little gem.
It may not be a streamlined experience entirely worthy of our times, but it certainly plays the nostalgia card right. Unfortunately, it takes both the good and the bad, not managing to bring enough new blood into the genre, being content with just being more of the old stuff.
If you liked the Ultima series or remember having a lot of fun with Dark Sun, then you’re certainly going to love Avadon 2: The Corruption. The game is tailor-made for die-hard classic role-playing fans and it doesn’t pretend to be anything it’s not.
If you can stomach the graphics and its archaic pitfalls, it offers countless hours of fun and exploration, a good story, and an overall rewarding and enthralling experience. Above all, what it may lack in visuals and polish, it makes up for in soul. It is truly a game that has a lot to offer beyond its quaint presentation.