Written by Craig Will Sunday, 26 December 2010 06:00
Faery Legends of Avalon is categorized as an RPG even though nearly all elements of that have been streamlined or stripped away altogether. Sure, you level up when you gain enough experience points for completing quests and defeating monsters. Sure, after leveling up you get a skill point to distribute in order to learn new abilities or alter stats. And sure, combat consists of you and your recruited companions taking turns hitting and being hit by monsters. But under all these surface components there isn’t much in the way of RPG depth and customization.
Character creation consists of choosing male or female and then rolling with a premade model or using the genre standard sliders to adjust skin color, hair color, hair style, nose width, etc. The only time you’ll even see your decisions reflected in the game is in the inventory menu where you can equip your character with an array of items, ranging from fire to iron material, in a few select categories: Weapons, Headbands, Gloves, Boots, and Clothes.
After you finish creating your character, you jump right into the story which, though interesting, is a bit convoluted and forgettable when it comes right down to it. After awakening from your crystal coated stasis state you meet two smaller fairy/pixie people that run you through a short tutorial on the movement/exploration controls. Soon, they have you flying up a tower to speak to the king who, through possible dialogue options, fills in the story of why you were in stasis (kind of) and why he woke you up as well as the threat to lands of fairies. Dialogue is fairly straight forward and standard by today’s RPGs, a dialogue wheel with different conversation choices you can highlight and pick and even blue or red options for pleasant or rude responses respectively (a la Mass Effect, Dragon Age, or any Bioware game really). The king also gives you your first quest: To find a companion to travel with you and save the worlds.
This game really shines when it comes to exploration. Movement is fast and fluid, flying is a refreshing change of pace from walking the overworld and you can even boost by clicking in the left thumbstick. It’s fun to the point that I often found myself not even heading towards quests because I’d rather fly around and find treasures.
This isn’t to say that the quests are hard or aren’t fun; they are, though they are quite formulaic: talk to NPC X, go to location X, find item X, battle boss X, bring item X back to NPC X, rinse, repeat. What keeps them from getting too stale is the fact that most quests offer branching options to complete them, usually either a straight-forward-brawl-your-way-to-completion or a more subtle benevolent choice that often requires more fetching. At one point I had to get a page from a book from underneath a large seagull. The options were to either fight it or to distract it. Distracting it required a fish to be placed on a nearby rock. Getting a fish required talking to the local fisherman who informs you that he gave his last fish to the goblins in the cave. The goblins inside the cave are circled around another goblin who appears hurt and at this point you can either fight the goblins to procure the fish or offer them a potion to heal the hurt goblin and hope they’ll give you a fish in return. Hint: they do.
What would an RPG be without a level system and skill points? Well, not an RPG I guess. The leveling system is straight forward: gain experience points, level up, distribute skill points. What makes this game unique is the way you distribute your skill points. You can upgrade each part of your character’s body through “metamorphosis” and each upgrade grants you a new ability. Your wings can be upgraded to dragonfly wings giving you the fireball ability, or butterfly wings giving you the lightning discharge ability, or bird wings thus granting the tornado ability. And each ability can be upgraded with future skill points. This depth is deceptive however, as there are only certain metamorphoses available until further levels and each level increase only grants one skill point AND once a metamorphosis is chosen it cannot be combined with another. For example: dragonfly wings cannot be combined with butterfly wings, which in turn means that if you select fireball as your first ability you cannot have tornado as another ability later. The best part of metamorphoses is that they all have a cosmetic effect on your character. Dragonfly wings give your character dragonfly wings, etc.
If this game has a weak spot it is the combat. Fighting is a return to the RPGs of the 90s: a battle consists of participants taking turns attacking and using abilities until all of one side is defeated. Nothing fancy and, with the exception of some boss battles, almost too easy. The only reason to look forward to battles is the fact that they lead to level ups.
Faery Legends of Avalon is a bit of throwback to earlier RPGs but offers a fresh take on travel and leveling up while not being able shake the rote combat system that has plagued RPGs for the past two decades. If you’re looking for a light RPG with a decent though oft slow story and a fun focus on treasures and exploration then this could be for you; $15 isn’t too steep of a price or if you’re curious at all just download the trial game.