Avadon: The Black Fortress Review
Avadon: The Black Fortress is a tactical RPG for the PC created by Spiderweb Software. This TRPG does have an interesting storyline where the questions and your responses may change your view on things. One the things that Avadon boasts is that you can be the loyal hero of Avadon, the indifferent merc or even do something along the lines of bringing Avadon down.
From playing this game, I will go over what I know and how I feel about this RPG. Now I haven’t finished the campaign so I don’t know the end yet, but from what I have played this game grabs a hold of you and pulls you in. Although humorously, about one of the only characters you may like will be your own character, I thought that pretty much everyone was a snake. With all the political intrigue going on around you, you may quickly become suspicious of every single person you talk to, and that even includes the 4 other characters you are teamed up with throughout the game. In one situation a simple statement was made that caused an argument between two of my own teammates (Hands are what they are called). It was quite humorous but I had also thought I would like to stab them both at that moment for being so unprofessional in front of others.
That right there is what leads me to, what is this game really about and how is it played. When you start the game you will pick a character from one of the 4 types, Bladesmaster (Warrior/Paladin), Shadowwalker (Theif/Ninja), Shaman (Druid or Nature Cleric/Summoner), or Sorceress (Mage/Psychic/Thief). The reason I elaborated on the classes is that they are all sort of a blend of some of your typical RPG classes but none are quite the same. What class you pick is entirely up to you, and it’s biggest aspect is that in all missions that is the one class you are guaranteed to have with you. Don’t worry about the other classes they all quickly become available as partners for your missions.
Now the story starts out with a really good plot. 5 countries have formed a pact to stop the warring amongst each other to allow them to face the greater threats from outside. To keep this pact working and to help the countries protect their borders, the black fortress of Avadon was born. Hands, who go out and do missions and do the dirty work. Eyes, who are the people who sneak around for Avadon to find those who are attempting to destroy the pact or just to keep a general eye on the things going on. Finally The Hearts, are the people who take the information given by the eyes, hands and the scores of envoys that come to Avadon and chose what Hand to send out on a mission and how many people they can take. This is where you get your missions and where you decide who will come along with you, but don’t worry if you hate them, on your next mission you can change it up.
While on these missions, you’ll take side quests and do whatever you really want to do. Be nice to the locals, or be cruel. Heck, they probably fear you already. If they don’t you can probably make them if you want to. One of the great things about the games story of politics and backstabbing and loot grabbing is that instead of being lead around by more experienced hands, they are all to busy and although you are the new kid on the block, you have to be better than the 4 screw-ups that no other hand wants to use. So they become your responsibility and you are given missions instead of the screw-ups who have been there longer. It’s up to you to find out why no one else wants them, if you feel inclined to get to know your fellow hands. Through your missions and the people you talk to, you will start to get a better idea of what is going on and what you may have to do in the future.
Now lets get to how is this game played. As you play you will level up, each level you can increase one stat by 1 point: Strength, Dexterity, Intelligence, and Endurance. You will also be given 2 points to place on your ability tree. Depending on your class will depend on what abilities you have available to your main character. It takes 2 points to take a new ability that you meet the requirements for. Once you have taken that ability you can place 1 point on it while placing the other point somewhere else if you chose. It’s really up to you. At level 5, 15, and 25 you can take one of 3 specializations that enhance certain abilities that your character possesses. You will also be leveling up all 4 of the other hands, So you might want to make the hand that has the same class as you focus on different abilities. This is called training the hands. One nice feature about this is that although you may favor certain classes for your quests, all of the hands will gain experience even the ones left behind. So whenever you return to Avadon train them, you never know if you might need them in a hurry.
I only say this because the game leaves you feeling like at any point any where some one might try to kill you. Maybe it’s just me, but the game feeds into the paranoia aspect. You venture around like you would in Diablo, but when a fight starts the map is all squares and turn based. This is nice since it gives you the time to think out strategies or just send your characters rushing in to cut down the enemies the old fashioned way.
The game is all point and click, there are keyboard shortcuts although the space bar really was the only one I learned. The space bar is used to end a characters turn. The game also has a little bit of music, but not really that much. I often found myself wandering around a wilderness just to notice how quiet everything was. I actually liked this in a way I didn’t expect to. It gave it that feeling of being alone. You wandered and it was all quiet, but if a wolf was approaching or near you, you might here it howl or growl. So it sort of feels like they decided to pull out the standard RPG music and instead let the setting bring the feeling out. Since you’re never walking a world map but instead are moving within areas, the objects always match the size of your characters.
I have played this game for hours on end and only enjoy it more and more. I give this game a 4 out of 5. I know there are some simplicities to the game, as well as it’s lack of constant music, that may turn away some fans of RPGs and TRPGs, but as far as engrossing you into the story and making you decide what you will do this game does it and never lets you feel safe around anyone. I just love that.
Final Score: 4/5