In this day and age, it’s easy to get caught up in modern life and forget about the simple beauty of nature. That’s the idea behind Avalon, a real time simulation game that puts you in charge of a community of fairies that are striving to bring nature and magic back to the modern world. While the core game play mechanics are heavily influenced by the Virtual Villagers series, Avalon features its own unique theme and engaging fantasy environment that’s sure to please real-time simulation and fairy fans alike.
Centuries ago, the fairies of Avalon decided to leave their homeland and travel to the real plane. Then something terrible happened at the elemental alter, and the link between Avalon and the real plane was severed. Without a link to Avalon, disorder and chaos grows in the civilization of men, and nature and magic begin to suffer. As the new reigning Fairy Queen, you decide to find a way back, in the hopes of undoing this modern age mess.
You have 3 different resources to manage, including food (gathered from berry bushes), pollen (gathered from blue flowers), and magic (gathered from puffy white flowers). You can select any fairy and assign it a job by clicking on a highlighted area. Food is eaten, and fairies will refuse to do other work if they run out. Pollen is used to create new fairies, growing your community. Magic is needed to complete all other special interactions with other items on the screen, which ultimately allows you to advance. You can track your resources by looking at the resource icons at the bottom of the screen. If the icon appears in red, it means you are using resources faster than you’re gathering them.
As young fairies complete tasks, they gain experience in one of the three skill areas — collecting, researching, and chanting. Once a fairy has maximized a skill area, she is promoted and transformed into a specialist. Like fairies, different tasks have different attributes. For example, lifting rocks may require the strength of gatherers, studying may need the wisdom of wizards, and healing may need the skill of chanters. The best results are achieved when a fairy casts spells in it’s own specialization. Here’s a hint: the colors will match. Assigning the right fairies to the task means less time spent on work, and also less magic needed.
Some tasks must be completed in order to clear other areas for exploration. For example, you may need to study a mushroom in order to clear a path to a spell book, and study the spellbook to gain access to a secret item.
In a twist similar to Chocolatier, you can increase the speed of production at any center by completing minigames. There are several, and the content varies, but most involve positioning your mouse in the right place at the right time. The most original is the pollination game, which involves using little fans to direct floating pollen into different flowers. The most difficult involves gathering falling balls into a flower cup, with some balls being more valuable than others. There are two games which involve music and rhythm, and have you attempting to predict what will happen next based off of a musical pattern.
The fantasy inspired music is exceedingly pretty, and very fitting for a game about fairies, complete with plenty of twinkling bells and delicate chimes. Even if you play for hours, it doesn’t get stale. There is plenty of fairy dust and beautiful lighting effects which help set up the environment.
The best part about Avalon is that it’s completely addictive. If you’re the sort of person that takes pleasure in completing tasks, and enjoy relaxed gaming, you’ll find plenty to enjoy. Even the minigames are simple yet fun, and really fit with the theme.
Of course, Avalon is not without its faults. Despite plenty to do, it’s fair to say that the game progresses in a linear fashion. You can’t really fail or lose, and your choices are very limited. It’s still fun and interesting to play, but not as interactive as Virtual Villagers, for example. Also, it’s not always easy to tell which task matches which attribute. Sometimes it boils down to trial and error, although again thankfully, there’s no real penalty.
Perhaps most notably, the game runs in real time, so the pace can be slow. However, many players of real time simulation games enjoy this attribute, and would not view it as a penalty.
On the whole, Avalon is a beautiful real time simulation game that moves away from the tropical theme of Virtual Villagers and into the realm of magic and fantasy. If you don’t mind a slightly slower pace, and have the patience to play the game slowly over time, it can prove to be a relaxing and fun diversion.