Shortly before the release of the title everyone was calling Aveyond 3, developer Amaranth Games announced a change of strategy: Instead of the latest game in the Aveyond series being a sprawling 50-hour role-playing adventure like its two predecessors, it would instead be released as several smaller "episodes" offering about 10 hours of playtime each. The first such episode is Aveyond: Lord of Twilight.
Other than the length (and let’s face it, 10 hours is still pretty darned impressive – especially by casual game standards) and the fact that a couple of quests carry over into the next game, Lord of Twilight is the same kind of game that Aveyond fans have come to know and love.
The story revolves around Mel, a young orphaned thief whose life changes forever when she discovers she’s at the center of an evil prophecy and is being hunted by a ruthless vampire lord. I don’t want to give too much away, but let’s just say it could end very, very badly for humankind.
The 2-D graphical style is typical of other casual RPGs and classics like the early Final Fantasy games. You’ll explore various towns and the surrounding countryside, which includes forests, mountains, bog, and even snowy terrain. Along the way you’ll talk to people to gain clues and side quests, discover treasure and purchase equipment, and have other like-minded adventurers join your party.
Combat is turn-based, meaning you select an action for your characters to perform (such as attack, defend, or use magic or special skills), and after the actions are carried out, the enemies take their turn, and so on until the battle is won or lost. In other words, strategy’s the name of the game, not reflexes. There are no random battles in Lord of Twilight either; all enemies are walking around in plain view, so in most cases you can choose whether you want to engage them or simply try to side-step around them.
If you fall in battle, the game automatically saves your progress so you can resume from where you left off, which is a nice touch.
Lord of Twilight lets you control the game using either the keyboard or the mouse, or a combination of the two – whatever feels most intuitive. Although the game is fairly menu-heavy, it doesn’t feel too intimidating. Furthermore, there are three levels of difficulty that allow you to adjust the strength of your party and the enemies you’ll face – a nice touch that makes the game accessible to a wider variety of gamer and adds some replay value for those wanting to test their skill on a higher setting.
Like all Aveyond games, this one’s graphics are colorful and charming, and its soundtrack is catchy and suitably epic.
My gripes with the game are few. I sometimes felt a bit claustrophobic because the game is organized into a series of connected areas that you must wind your way through to discover new locations, instead of just being able to walk across a zoomed out world map. The handful of times I did emerge into the world map I couldn’t actually go anywhere; presumably that will have to wait until future instalments. I also didn’t find the in-game overhead map particularly helpful in figuring out which direction to walk in. Granted, you’ll eventually unlock teleporters that allow you to travel instantly between towns – for a not insignificant price.
Other than that, there’s not much to complain about. Amaranth Games has hit on something wonderful with Aveyond, and I’m impressed not only at how willing the studio is to keep adding small refinements and tweaks to make gameplay even better (such as adding mouse support and an autosave), but how rich the community is by offering maps, downloadable "goodies" and other fun stuff to players.
Like its predecessors, Aveyond: Lord of Twilight is a casual RPG that offers hours of enjoyment. True, it’s not quite long or deep as the first games, but if you’re worried about whether you’re still getting enough bang for your buck, you can put those worries to rest.