Currently playing: Avadon 2 - The Corruption, Wolfenstein - The new order

February 14, 2017

Avadon 2 - The Corruption: A new beginning

In my desperate attempt to find new and old crpgs to play I tried out several ones during the last months that I didn´t like. I stumbled across a newly released game called Mines of Grimvale that I payed for, only to feel cheated by getting a freeware Dungeon Master 2 clone from 2001 with only 2 levels, no story and no manual. The game was obviously not built from scratch but a package built from existing modules.

I also bought Gods: Lands of infinity SE which was a huge disappointment and a blend between a trade simulator and an RPG but with a lifeless world. Too bad.

A few years ago, actually before starting up this blog, I played Avadon the Black Fortress which I liked very much. A stable, solid partybased RPG with turn-based combat and an interesting story. So when the successor was on sale not too long ago I bought it to have in reserve in my game library and now was the time to start it up. One hour into the game I felt once again sucked into this world and game engine.


The gameworld is quite elaborate with the Pact being a confederation of allied countries that try to cooperate to keep an external threat at bay: The Farlands. To oversee that no kingdom in the alliance takes more power than granted or abuse the alliance there is a council called Avadon, a sort of police/military organisation that keep the order and are led by the legendary Redbeard.

You begin the game at one of the Pacts outposts in an area with bitter feuds between the locl tribes which both claim the lands. You are on a patrol together with a scout and you discover some very strange things happening. Something is going on. Advanced mines are found in the vegetation and giant rats have infested the area. Soon you discover tracks of humanoids and rebels which you have to fight. This is clearly not just skirmishes of unorganized raiders.

During this first hour the game plays out like an tutorial. I learn a lot by my scout wingman and togheter we investigate the area until we have to split up and take different roads to shake of followers. Unfortunately things are not getting as well for my scout as for me. He is hunted down by a Titan that smash him down and carry him away. I have no idea if he is dead or not and cannot intervene because of the bitter odds.


I have to return back to the fort and tell the commander of what has happened. When I arrive the fort have just survived an attack itself and bodies lies everywhere but the fort still holds. I examine the whole fort and find out more about what is happening in these parts of the lands. The outpost is clearly in dire need of reinforcements and the commander wish me to send a report of what is happening to Avadon about this.

In the fort I stumble across all basic structures in a small community like a blacksmith and different shops. I also get to know a few other collegues which happen to be hands of Avalon (a fine and honorary title) which are willing to join me to report back to Avadon. You control the other characters just as your own character and develop them when they level up. This is of course one of the major highlights in a roleplaying game.

At each level up you are given one attribute point and two skill points to spend. Each class have different skill trees with abilitites that you can use during combat. Each use drain your vitality which can only be restored back in the Avadon fortress or by using potions. Also, each ability must cooldown a number of turns before you can use it again. The good thing is that you can increase the power of each skill by spending more points in it, gaining even stronger effects. To plan your skilltree advancement is also one of the stimulating but challenging things in this game.

Planning the skilltree

Back to my adventures. To reach Avadon I needed to go to a stone portal far out from the outpost and the road was blocked by rebels and roaming creatures. Eventually I come across a small village and heard terrible tales from the few inhabitants still there. I helped out scaring away a mercenary band camped just outside a farm and I destroyed several nests of spiders and other creatures that had begun to inhabit this area. In the end my progress are stopped by evil forces belonging to the rebels. They knew messengers were on the way to Avadon and one of their semileaders tried to stop me. This resultet in several fights against him and his minions but eventually I got to the teleporter stones and could get back to Avadon for a report.



Avadon is a huge fortress on several levels and it took me some time to explore it and talk to all the NPC:s. It was possible to get some sidequests here before I made my report to one of Redbeards lieutentants. It was decided I should return back to the outpost to help out the commander personally and act as the reinforcement. While at the fort you are alone but as soon as you use the teleporter stones to different areas you are allowed to bring two or more allies. Even if you don´t bring some of them they will still get the same amount of experience as the ones you take so you won´t feel you have to choose early which will be your permanent followers. This is a good thing.




I won´t spoil much more of what has happened except that the story is one of the strong points. The texts and dialogues are well written without feeling like they are too long or boring. That was the case for me in Pillars of Eternity. I am now at level 11 and have done at least a dozen sidequests and progressed in the mainquest. The game still feels fresh after around 6 hours into it but I have no idea how big the game will turn out to be.

I will return in another post about how the combat and magic works in the game.





January 22, 2017

Heroes of the Monkey Tavern - Review


Game reviewed: Heroes of the Monkey Tavern
Version: 1.0.4
Created by: Monkey Stories
Released: 2016
Formats: Pc
Difficulty: 5/10
Price$9.99


The last week I have played the dungeon master clone Heroes of the Monkey Tavern. Of all the clones I have played this autumn the graphics are the most similar to Legend of Grimrock. The game is very simple and quite short but give you value for your money.

To tell you the truth I have already forgot the so called story of the game. You will never - ever - be reminded of it once you start the game so it doesn´t matter. What matters is that this is a real-time dungeon master clone with excellent graphics and good sound effects. It is simple and straigh forward. Too simple in my mind because you automatically level up without having to choose anything. You are granted a few attribute upgrades and a new skill or spell depending on your class. Which by the way is the only choice you make in the beginning of the game. You have four characters to choos but more classes. I choosed a warrior, barbarian, priest and elementalist. I could have choosed a Paladin, Monk or Rogue instead.




When I got into my first fight I suffered tremendous amount of party damage and thought something must be wrong until I understood that this is the games punishment for square dancing. If you disengage from the enemy you receive fleeing damage which is quite heavy. You get that every round your are out of melee distance. The short story is that I never disengaged a single fight after that. This makes fights pretty boring. You only click on your weapons or spells frantically. At least they have kept the cooling times for different weapons so you have some choices to make which weapons should be used but other than that you are very limited in how you use the few items you find. I say few because apart from a few weapons and armours on each levels there is NOTHING more to loot. Needless to say there are no encumbrance or anything to sell or buy either in this kind of game.

Gameworld & Story

The introductions is quite good but once you start there is not a single reference to what you are doing there. And it doesn´t matter at all. This is a pure dungeon crawler. The game world consists of 8 levels each taking about 1 hour to complete. The dungeons are roughly squares but with irregular corridors and rooms.

Rating: 1

Economy

Economy in this game is nonexistent. There is no gold and no shop. Ruzar the lifestone and Dungeon Master 2 is the exception to this.

Rating: 1

NPC & Interactions

There is no NPC (Non-Person-Character) in the game to talk with. Interactions with the environment is only possible when it comes to opening doors, pulling levers or pushing buttons. You cannot throw objects or close doors on the monsters like in Dungeon Master but you can use the dungeons fireball or poison traps against the enemies which is cool.

Rating: 1.5



Monsters, tactics & combat system

Each level often has at least one unique monster type. Since you are more or less forced to fight a static fight against them - I never had any ranged character - I cannot see any tactics these could use in any way. They never flee or retreat. There is no monster with ranged capabilities.

They have somewhat different capabilities in that some try to poison you and some have group attack capabilities. I never really understood how to use the shields.

It would be nice if there where a way to see the health of a monster so you will know wether poison, fire or ice attacks are more or less effective against them. As it is now I have no idea if there even is different kind of resistances. You do see how much damage you are doing though but since you have your eyes on your own party weapons you never have time to analyse the floating damage points inflicted.

Combat system is very static. You only click your characters weapon icons as soon as they are ready to strike again. The only tactics lies in how to use your spells or which character to heal. You have a very limited stock of potions in the game so you have to carefully choose where and when to use it. I saved as much of my potions as possible to use on the level bosses.

You have different kind of weapons like swords, warhammers and 2-handed weapons. Priests are more adept with warhammers and I put my 2-handed weapons with my Barbarian. The elementalist used staffs or ordinary swords to have something to use when the mana was drained.

Armour comes in heavy and light types and my figher could use the heavy stuff and my barbarian only light armour.

Rating: 1.5


Magic System

You have mana which - together with health - are slowly regenerated by time or by sleeping. Sleeping could be done anywhere outside of combat without drawbacks. Mana is based on intelligence and you will find both magical items that will boost your intelligence and your mana directly. This is important because your priest will be totally occupied in healing your other members during combat and your elementalist will have to throw his most offensive spells.

Spells comes automatically when levelling up and you choose which hand will be able to cast which spell. Spells could be used both at range or in melee. Some creatures where only possible to kill by slowly moving backwards and hurl spells while emptying the mana pool before entering melee combat. In the end I found that it was best to lure the enemies to different traps in the game. In a few places it was the only way to defeat them.

I like the spells but it´s too bad you cannot customize anything.

Rating: 1.5

Character generation & development

Unfortunately this aspect is the single biggest drawback with the game because the core definition of an RPG is that you can develop and customize your characters when they level up. Here you will never be able to do that so the game is very static. The only good thing is that there are a few more classes to choose from than the initial four you have so you can vary a replay somewhat. But I haven´t ever replayed a game and don´t see any reason to do it now.

When characters increase in level they get a few attribute increases and a new skill or spell. It is fun to level up because you don´t know what you will get so it is always a surprise.

Rating: 1.5

Map design


The maps are filled with corridors and rooms in a very random pattern as is usual in these kind of games. At certain points they are filled with furniture or more elaborate graphics. Most of the however contains traps, puzzles or monsters. Fortunately an automap is included.

Rating: 3


Manual

The manual are almost non-existent. You have to rely on tooltips. There are however a very short manual containing the shortcuts for the game. Here is a also a list of the abilities gained for each level but no description of them.

Rating: 1.5


Graphics, Sound and Interface


Graphicwise the game is on par with Legend of Grimrock. The graphics is very good and it is fast. Speaking of fast, the game loads extremely fast when you start the game or reload a save. The monsters are very well made and with nice animations. That goes to all environmental things like fires as well. 

Sound effects are good. There are monster growls and other effects which is well made. There are a few different background musics playing during the game which is totally ok. There is not a single strong tune I have been affected to like in The Deep Path: The Labyrinth of Andokost.

The interface is clean and I think it works pretty well. 

Overall this game is definetely above average regarding both for its genre and for the time it was released.

Rating:  4


Gameplay

While the CRPG value above only tell you how strong the different core RPG ingredients are the gameplay value is always the single most important rating since it actually tells you how good the game is. I had great time with this game. It is easy to play and somewhat rewarding when finding loot. But I never managed to clear more than one or two floors at a single playthrough since it became repetitive pretty fast. I mean, there is not much variety at all between the levels. 

The puzzles are mostly easy with a few of normal difficulty. I like the fact that there are secret rooms and treasures and that you don´t need to clear a full level before progressing to next level. For $9.99 I think the game is somewhat pricey but I do believe it is worth it on sale. The game is rather short. Only 8 full levels.

Each level contain one healing fountain which can be used once to ressurrect dead partymembers. This means you can allow one tough fight to kill any of your members. I thought this balance was pretty good and the challenge just about right on normal difficulty.

While I do like the game I would like to see a successor with more content, story and where you have control over levelling. It would also be nice with some outdoor areas. I am also taking into account that I this autumn have played several realtime dungeon crawlers already so I have gotten a little tired of them. If I have to choose I would say Labyrinth of Andokost is a little better and it was more of a challenge than this one. Having said that. This is a solid game without any bugs and you won´t get dissappointed but you won´t be positively surprised about its depth either.

Rating: 3

Section
Rating
Gameworld & Story
1
Economy
1
NPC & Interactions
1
Monsters, tactics & combat system
1.5
Magic system
1.5
Character generation & development
1.5
Map design
3
Manual
2
Graphics, Sound and Interface
4
Summary CRPG value
16.5


Gameplay
3