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Avadon 2: The Corruption – PC Game Review

Author: Avery Abernethy

Avadon 2: The Corruption is the latest RPG from Spiderweb Software.  You are a “Hand of Avadon” which translates to trouble-shooter, ambassador, and brute squad for Redbeard, the leader of the Pact.  Avadon 2 is a turn-based party of characters role playing game (RPG) with a top-down perspective.  The setting is mostly swords and sorcery.  This review is based on many weeks of play and I have completed 90% of the game.

In Avadon 2 you select a primary character at the beginning of the game who is accompanied by two other characters.  The primary character must be present during all missions.  The main player can add up to two additional characters to the adventuring party.  All three party members are 100% under the control of the player.  The two accompanying characters can be selected based on the mission you are trying to accomplish.  Every character levels up and gains experience points at the exact same rate if the go on a mission or not.  This game feature removes the worry about getting each member of the group enough battle experience to be useful.  The character classes are roughly equal to fighter, ninja, wizard, shaman (mix of priest & wizard), and a tinker.  Only the ninja, wizard, or tinker can disarm traps or unlock doors and chests.

Avadon 2 Review-Picking a character

Picking a character.

Tinkers are quite unique to the fantasy setting.  The tinker is a relatively good fighter with both melee and missile weapons.  But the primary usefulness of the Tinker is their ability to erect “turrents” which can launch missile attacks, area of effect attacks, operate as snares, operate as blessings/curses or which heal friendly party members.  The turrents act as immobile missile units, immobile healing/cursing priests, or immobile area of effect wizards.  They can be damaged, but are quite hardy.   Better yet turrents are 100% resistant to mind attacks which are challenging to defend against for most character classes.  I’ve never encountered a “tinker” type of character in an RPG.  When employed properly they are very powerful and enable the use of tactical strategies during battle that are unique to the game.

Avadon 2 Review-Battle with Turrent

Battle with a turrent.

Like most RPGs, characters become more powerful and gain more offensive and defensive powers as they gain experience.  Some offensive and defensive powers can only be unlocked if earlier powers in the skill tree are chosen.  A higher level skill cannot be advanced beyond the level of the lower level skill in the advancement tree.  All skills are capped.  As more skill points are added to a power, the power improves in effectiveness and sometimes enables even more powerful attacks or defensive moves.  As a further limiting factor, most powers only work for a limited number of turns and cannot be used again until after the cool-off period has expired.  Deciding on which powers to use during battle is a critical tactical decision.

Avadon 2 Review-Leveling Up Optioins

Leveling up options.

Avadon 2 also imposes a level 30 cap on all players which means you cannot maximize all skills.  Difficult choices must be made during advancement.  Different individuals could choose to maximize or learn different skills, take different party members on missions, or employ different abilities during tactical battles.

Avadon 2 Review-One level before Max = can't do it all

One level before max – I can’t do it all.

As common to role playing games, there are a host of magic armor, weapons, potions, and other enhancements to be found.  The usefulness of many of the options is situation specific depending on your opponent.  Although it is very easy to juggle equipment between characters, you can carry or wear a limited amount of stuff.  This enhances the game because the player must thoughtfully equip their party with the right equipment mix to achieve their objectives.

Avadon 2 Review-Character Stuff

Character stuff.

 

The World of Avadon is an Interesting Place

The world is quite complicated and filled with intrigues and struggles.  There are multiple nations in the Pact.  Some of the nations in the Pact Alliance would like to gain more power or leave the Pact entirely.  Some individuals like the Pact but want to overthrow the dictator Redbeard.  Redbeard’s officers fight amongst themselves to gain more power, favor, advancement or to achieve their own selfish goals.  

An example of a storyline.

An example of a storyline.

There are many missions the player can take.  There is a main quest and many side quests.  Some of the choices during the quests determine if some characters will abandon the party forever or if some important non-player characters will continue to support the party.  The choices of which quests to accept and the decisions made within the quests themselves can have a profound impact on future play.  But many other missions are simple “go kill the monster” or “eliminate a rebel base.”

Avadon is suffering from a rebellion led by individuals who were once highly ranked officers of the realm.  There are a lot of plot twists and turns in terms of who the leaders of the rebellion are and if various groups are core allies of the rebellion or just allies of convenience.  There is also large background moral dilemma confronting the player through the course of the game.  Should order and security be the core value of society?  Or should individual freedom, or freedom of various states and groups be allowed to compromise security of the whole society?  The background to the rebellion is the spread of the corruption, a mysterious force that corrupts the land and all that live there leaving desolation and chaos.  The corruption is seemingly not understood by either the Pact or the Rebellion.

The player’s allies all have complicated backgrounds with their own loves, hatreds and desires.  These evolve into side missions.  The player is often forced to choose between the rules of the Pact, the desires of its tyrant Redbeard, the desires of other party members, and the ethos of the main character.  The player cannot “make everyone happy.”  There are core dilemmas which involve difficult player choices.  I cannot go into details without providing massive spoilers, but the background story is very rich.  At multiple points during the game I had to read my options very carefully and think about what I most wanted to achieve as a player.   If you are looking for a complex society with many competing factions you will be very happy with Avadon 2.

An intelligent background.

An intelligent background.

 

Game Esthetics

Avadon 2 uses basic graphics.  The battle sounds are appropriate, but limited.  The background music is simple with limited options.  This game is not high on the “eye candy” scale.  But the game is playable on both Windows and Mac operating systems and has very low computer requirements.  The file size is very small compared to most modern RPGs.  If you purchase the full game there is no DRM to prevent the buyer from installing the game on multiple machines.  This makes Avadon 2 a great game to put on your laptop for play during long trips.  Once installed, an internet connection is not needed to play the game.  Spiderweb Software is also planning a tablet edition for 2014.

There is an extensive demo which will take the player through about 10-15% of the game content.  The full game manual is also downloadable prior to purchase.  Both the demo and the manual can be found at: http://www.spiderwebsoftware.com/avadon2/index.html

I never had a crash or lock-up during my weeks of play.  The download is pretty fast.  The controls are easy to master and do not become an impediment to play.  The game has such low computer requirements that those lacking modern gaming rigs can jump right in and play.  The game can be played in a window or played full-screen.

There is also some wry humor at various points in the game.  The humor executed well to be funny, yet not detracting from the main story.

Avadon 2 Review-Thing in the Basement

Thing in the basement.

Overall Impression

This game rocks!  It could be played as a straight power-game RPG for those who like to amass greater power, wealth, and magic.  One could ignore the complex story line and hack and slash their way to joy.  But if you like a complex background story with profound morale choices in a world that is morally and politically complex, you will also be delighted.  There are multiple difficulty levels which will make those who want a challenge happy.  If you enjoy playing on an easy level where it is not difficult to win battles and experience the game that is also readily available.

One of the hardest things to get right in an RPG is game balance.  To maximize the fun factor the game must be sufficiently difficult to provide a sense of accomplishment.  But you don’t want a game that is so easy it becomes boring or so hard that it becomes frustrating.  Keeping the game balance right as your character gains levels and powers is extremely challenging to game designers.  It can also be irritating if there is only one way to win a “boss battle” and if you have not made all of the right choices prior to the climactic battle you have no chance of winning.  But easy “boss battles” are a real let-down.

Avadon 2 has some of the best game balance that I have experienced in my decades of playing RPGs.  The story is complex and interesting, but can largely be ignored if the player wishes.  This is a very hard thing to pull off and is one of the reasons that the first Avadon game had the highest sales of any previous Spiderweb Software Game.

The game is also very inexpensive.  I purchased the game on sale for $7.50 but the regular price on www.gog.com is only $9.99.  There is a huge demo with a full manual available for free.  If you like the demo you can purchase the full version and continue playing.

The combination of low price, great game balance, an interesting and compelling background story, and sheer RPG fun have motivated me to give the game a 10 out of 10 score.   This is one of the best turn based, party driven, inexpensive RPG that I have ever had the joy to fire up.  If you like this sort of game, buy it (or at least play the demo).

 

About the Author

Avery Abernethy is a Professor of Marketing at Auburn University.  He has been playing board and electronic games for more than 40 years.

 

 

 

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