Short Review: Avadon – The Black Fortress

The Review: Is Avadon a True Spiderweb Game?

So, now that I’ve completed Avadon: The Black Fortress once, what do I have to say about it?

I think that the best way to go through the pros and cons is to compare it to Spiderweb’s previous games of the same style – Exile and it’s remake, Avernum.

Story in Avadon

The story of Avadon is decent, nothing more. It will keep you intrigued, it’s unique, compared to mainstream RPGs (I’m looking at you, Bioware) and it will keep you interested in the game. A few minor quests have their own nice little short stories, your companions have a background and it all fits together well enough. Nothing revolutionary, but OK.

Character Development in Avadon

I have to say, the character development in Avadon is different to previous games and also, not as good. The classes just don’t seem unique enough, it’s to unified, to uniform. Each class has their utility tree, their aggressive tree and their passive tree. You are pretty much forced to pick the passive tree and one other, if you wan’t to get the last upgrade for the top skill. Technically, if you make use of skill bonuses on your equipment, you might be able to “max” the last tree to, but that just makes it even less unique.

Avadon - Screen

The writing is where Spiderweb games excel. There’s a lot of it and it’s quite good.

In addition to that, the characters also play basically the same. You blow all your spells/abilities on tougher battles and then proceed to attack with your main weapon and/or use items until they recharge. Vitality is there just for show and to maybe make you go back to the local pylon once in a while. There is no need to conserve your resources. It simply doesn’t feel like there’s enough variety or possibilities. With Avernum, it felt better, and with Exile, even more so.

Also, the fact that level 30 is max and you can reach it before the end of the game if you do any side quests kind of removes the pleasure of making your characters overpowered. Sure, being overpowered makes the game unbalanced, but it’s also one of the charms that make me like this genre.

Still, it’s good enough, and it won’t bother you to much on its own. It just isn’t what I prefer, compared to previous games.

Gameplay in Avadon

I sense a hint of Bioware in the gameplay of Avadon. It feels a bit overly structured and predictable. You pretty much know where your next quest will take you and when your next companion will abandon you. This could be done better, less predictable. Also, the world seems less open than the previous games, with less stuff to do and explore. It kind off reminds me of the first Baldur’s Gate. This isn’t a bad thing, but again, I preferred the way Avernum and Exile did it.

The Verdict

Based on what I wrote, you would probably think I don’t like the game. You’d be wrong. I do like it. I like it a lot. I just don’t like it as much as Avernum or Exile. It’s still better than most of the crap you get today, however. It’s old school RPG goodness with a bit of new design thrown in. If you love this, you will adore this game. A definite buy, even more so, considering the price. At worst, it’s a bit too formulaic.

Meaningless Score: 8/10