Avadon: The Black Fortress Review

Hours of old-school RPG goodness at a value price.

Progress. It’s inevitable and generally, it’s a good thing. Video games are no exception. Over the years, production values have continued to climb and along with them, developers have also refined the techniques that wow gamers. But for all the good that progress brings, there is a price to be paid and some of us find ourselves yearning for simpler times. Enter Avadon, an homage to old-school gameplay in an age where graphics reign supreme. It might not appeal to everyone, but those with the urge to go dungeon exploring will find that Avadon is more than enough to quench their thirst for adventure.

Avadon is a dungeon-crawling role-playing game (RPG) made by indie developer Spiderweb Software, who promises that this is the first in a saga of games. You are a young warrior whose endless training has finally paid off by granting you an invitation to serve at the most powerful castle in the land, Avadon. The warriors of Avadon serve as a sort of “police corps” that must keep the peace between the nations. The adventure begins with some local quests in the castle, but eventually you’ll find yourself wandering into other lands, fulfilling your duties as a warrior of Avadon.

 The Black Fortress

The game does a great job of making quests seem relevant straight from the start, rather than the typical “run and fetch…” quests that so many RPGs tend to throw at us. I never felt annoyed at having to embark on a mission because none of them felt like filler. There are plenty of quests in the main story, but the folks at Spiderweb Software didn’t stop there. They also included numerous side-quests that can be unlocked by choosing the correct responses during dialogue sequences. With the main quest and sub-quests combined, the game has at least 20-30 hours of gameplay.

Battles take place in typical turn-based RPG fashion. The player gives orders to each member of the party to move and attack and then watches the enemy do the same. Battles tend to have a quick pace, which really keeps the game progressing nicely. When the battle ends, the player can choose to loot whatever items are dropped and continues exploring. There are loads of items to find and equip and a fair amount of spells to learn as well. There are a vast number of different items in the game, but oddly enough, many of them appear to do absolutely nothing. Some items appear to be completely worthless, offering not only no use to the player, but not allowing the player to sell them. Despite the uselessness, it’s clear that a lot of time was put in to making the world of Avadon feel full.

But for all of the effort that was put in to making the gameplay deep, the production values of the game are bare by contrast. Avadon doesn’t look ugly, but it’s certainly not going to wow anyone from this decade. That might not be such a bad thing for some, especially since the game itself is such a throwback to the old-school, but a little extra polish would have gone a long way to making this game feel like a complete package.

 The Black Fortress
Overall, Avadon is a solid strategy-RPG that caters to a niche audience, so it’s hard to recommend to everyone. Those unfamiliar with the genre may find its text-heavy presentation too boring to keep them engaged, while the Dungeons & Dragons fanatics among us will find a solid adventure that will keep them busy for hours. It doesn’t introduce any revolutionary concepts or features to the genre, but it’s a compelling game nevertheless. I highly recommend that those in the market for a deep RPG give this title a chance. You won’t be disappointed.

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