Sometimes a game is made on such an impressive scale, it dwarfs the games around it by its sheer magnitude and detail. Avadon: The Black Fortress is one such game, and while its graphics and sound effects might initially leave you in the lurch, the excellent story and massive amount of content more than make up for it.
When you first open up Avadon, you're shown the all too familiar options screen. Chances are you'll want to start a new game, and when you do so, you're able to create your character. There's four classes to choose from: blademaster, shadowwalker, shaman, and sorceress.
Each class fits one of the established archetypes we've grown accustomed to seeing (for example, the blademaster is a tanky, devastating warrior, capable of taking damage, while the sorceress is mostly ranged, casting spells, wearing cloth, and equipped with the occasional heal), so all should be familiar on that front.
After you've settled on your name, Avadon tells you the game's story through a series of still images and text. All of the drawings are very well done, and it's clear a lot of effort went into the detailed storyline. (Long story short, you're now a warrior working at the Black Fortress, defending your land, fighting off baddies, and trying not to infuriate the all-powerful and crazy ruler of the place).
Once you're actually in-game, the camera takes a 2½-D, top-down view of your environment. You simply tap where you want to move and your character will walk there, and if you happen to tap on another NPC, you also use touch to advance through all of the dialogue.
There's a multitude of button that run alongside the bottom of the screen, and these help you access your inventory, player stats, and abilities, to name a few. On the right side of your combat status icon (the middle icon that shows a peace sign when you're not fighting) are quick access slots for your preferred spells and items. You can hold four of each, so as you continue to get better gear and more abilities, you can switch these out as necessary.
Combat is fairly fluid, using a turn-based system that should be familiar to anyone who has played a tactics game before. A grid appears underneath all involved parties feet, you're limited to how many squares you can move (as are they), and you tap the enemy you want to attack. When you have skills, this would be the time to use them. (You aim and control them using the same touch method.)
While the battle style isn't clunky, I'd definitely appreciate an auto-attack function so I don't have to keep tapping the enemy I'm on. Sure, you might want to switch to someone else mid-fight, but in the battles I played, it was all pretty straightforward (we steamrolled them), so being able to check out for a few seconds would help keep the monotony down.
Still, Avadon: The Black Fortress is truly a game of epic proportions. It's detailed, very engrossing, and just plain long. The fact that Spiderweb Software promises it to be the first in a trilogy of games excites me (and gives me hope they'll improve the graphics), and if you ever played the older games of a bygone era, this might just tickle that nostalgia bone of yours.
Avadon: The Black Fortress is $9.99 in the Google Play Store. We've got video and download links after the break.
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