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Archives  Reviews  Avadon: The Black Fortress  



Genre: Adventure & RPG
Min OS X: 10.4

Avadon: The Black Fortress
April 18, 2011 | Jon Carr

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Beautiful Artwork
As you traverse the land you will battle a huge variety of foes, from pests and wildlife to stone golems and mighty demons. Avadon is not a solo game, but every mission or outing you can take two other Hands of Avadon with you. There are four total, each being one of the four available classes. So whichever class your own character is, there are always the other classes to supplement your party. Each of your companions have their own unique personality and will often pause to comment or question on the mission or story. All are interesting, the spirited Sorceress Nathalie, the quiet but friendly Shaman Jenell, the mysterious assassin Shima and the Blademaster Sevilyn. Since I chose the Blademaster class myself for the review I mostly brought along Nathalie, Jenell or Shima on missions.

You will often stumble across high level dungeons or foes that can kill you in a hit or two at your current level. It's fun to come back to these places later and take them on for lots of experience and loot. You are never forced into these encounters, but can either choose to leave or attack the demon, specter or person. One thing you don't seem to be able to do, but could in other Spiderweb games, is initiate combat upon friendly units. In earlier titles you could just attack and wipe out a whole town randomly if you wanted, or take on a drake or golem for his awesome loot. I didn't seem to be able to do that in Avadon, and that slightly annoyed me, but it's really a minor side-point.

In standard RPG fashion, there are lots of side-quests you can take on for extra experience. Some of these are a little generic, such as being assigned to kill 8 red wolves, but for the most part the side quests are more interesting and varied than that. You might have to steal a book from a dragon for a mage, or recover a lost caravan from an ogre. Other times see you taking out spies and smugglers, but finding them is not always so easy. It's good fun and never feels like grinding because a lot of the side quests have interesting stories and characters behind them, and of course always have ample rewards along the way or at the end.

Jeff Vogel has said Avadon is their best looking game to date, and it's true. The graphics are smooth and pleasing to the eye, and the excellent menus combined with a sharp and functional interface make for a very tidy appearance. There is also a significantly increased number of art assets and objects around in buildings and landscapes which adds great variety and detail when exploring or fighting.

Sound remains minimal with no music (play your own in iTunes) but with enough ambient chatter in towns, and combat attacks and spells packing enough punch to be satisfying. It's sufficient, but not memorable. Enough to draw you in, but I wished for something a little more immersive. On the same hand, I can't complain - this is an Indie game, and audio is a huge and complicated task to implement in games. There's nothing wrong with the sound here, it's good. I just wanted more of it.

In the end Avadon: The Black Fortress have everything a good RPG needs. Strong story and characters, great combat, excellent quests, addictive loot and leveling and high replayability. It's still old-school but throws in a lot of modern RPG elements which makes it even better. Avadon is a real treat for long-time Spiderweb fans, but also accessible and equally enjoyable by anyone new to a Jeff Vogel game. There's a demo available for those who are unsure, but I highly recommend you add Avadon to your collection. It will keep you adventuring and questing in the land of Lynaeus for a long time to come.

• Fantastic story and writing
• Fun combat and character classes
• Deep choices and consequences make for great Role-Playing
• Highly Replayable

• Minimal audio
• Minor interface quibbles

Avadon: The Black Fortress
Developer: Spiderweb Software
Buy Avadon: The Black Fortress now at MacGameStore.com


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