Avadon 3: The Warborn Review - A brilliant CRPG
As a child, I always enjoyed the CRPGs of the 90s. Baldur’s Gate, Icewind Dale, Planescape: Torment etc. But, there was always one problem I had with them; I could never finish them. It often felt that dialogue just never ended and most of the game was speaking with characters as opposed to adventuring. Avadon 3, on the other hand, balances plot with gameplay to avoid such a problem.
Avadon 3 is a CRPG in the vein of the legendary titles mentioned above. It is developed and published by Spiderweb Software, and scheduled for release on Steam September 14th, 2016 for PC and Mac users. It will also be available on iPad. The third and final installment in the Avadon series, Avadon 3 is a finale that fans and newcomers alike will love.
The fate of Lynaeus is in your hands. Will you defend it or destroy it?
You take on the role of a Hand of Avadon. A Hand is an individual that is above the law. They are judge, jury, and executioner. They decide who is arrested, who lives and who dies. As a Hand, you answer only to the Keeper of Avadon.
Think of a Hand as being a medieval Judge Dread but on a continental scale.
The continent of Lynaeus is in chaos. The Black Fortress, headquarters of the Hands lays in ruin. Redbeard, the Keeper of Avadon has been overthrown and has gone into hiding. The Farlander tribes are at constant war. To the west, the Corruption -- a disease -- is spreading, killing everything in its path.
A mysterious figure is attempting to rally the factions of Lynaeus against Avadon in an attempt to destroy it. With Redbeard overthrown, the forces of Avadon are scattered and in disarray. You must resolve these problems. How you do it is entirely up to you.
Will you defend it or destroy it? Will you betray Redbeard and ally with the new Keeper of Avadon? Perhaps you will not align yourself with either. The choice you make will determine the fate of Lynaeus.
Playing the previous games is not essential to play this installment.
As you progress through the game the backstory and lore are presented through dialogue and documentation. It allows players who haven’t played the previous games to get up to speed with what is going on (or serves as a recap for those who have).
The plot itself is interesting, deep and at times quite intense. As you progress you will need to make difficult decisions. The choices you make will affect the world and how people will react to you.
While some will be happy with your actions others will not.
An example of such an instance is where you get to decide the fate of a town. Your options are to show mercy, raid it, or burn it to the ground. Show mercy and the townsfolk will respect and welcome you. Burn it to the ground, people will dislike and fear you and the town itself lays in ruin with blood filling the streets and less populated.
You feel like your choices matter. The world is affected and shaped depending on your decisions. It is a game where you feel like you are making a difference, and doing so in a big way. The plot to Avadon 3 is one of the best and most in-depth I have experienced in an RPG for some time. Despite playing it for a second time, it still kept me hooked throughout.
Who will you be?
Before starting the game, you need to choose the type of character you play as. There is a total of five character classes to choose from.
The first is the Blademaster who wears heavy armor, specializes in close combat and charges into the heat of battle. They are extremely tough and have the ability to challenge enemies, causing them to focus attacks away from weaker allies.
The Shadowwalker is an assassin. They are fast, silent and deadly. While they are not able to withstand the punishment of the Blademaster, they are capable of dealing a lot of damage and doing so quickly. They specialize in both melee and ranged combat, making them ideal for adapting to various combat scenarios.
The Sorcerer is capable of wielding the powerful magic of the elements. While they may be weak physically, their magic makes them devastating at a range. They are capable of using spells consisting of fire, ice, lightning, and acid.
The Shaman is a being who respects nature, and it respects them back. They have the ability to call the wild for assistance, along with having various skills and spells that come from the Earth itself. They are powerful allies capable of casting all forms of useful spells such as protection and healing.
The final class is one that you see in few games -- the Tinkermage. They specialize in creating all forms of constructs, such as turrets and traps, to aid them in battle. They are decent at attacking using ranged weapons too.
Each of the classes is well-balanced. No one class has a distinct advantage over the other. They all are useful in their own right and swapping around your allies to tackle different scenarios is vital to success. While a Blademaster might be useful in one instance, they might not be so in another -- and the same applies to all.
This gives the game a further strategic element, making combat more in-depth. Figuring out what character class is best suited for the job can lead to quite a sense of achievement once you finally beat that battle you were stuck on for awhile.
Excellent and Strategic Character Development
As you progress through the game your party gains experience. While you do gain it from defeating enemies, most experience is gained from completing quests. Even those who remain at the camp will continue to gain experience and level up.
Each time you level up you will gain stat points and skill points that you can distribute how you see fit. Each character class requires different stats and possesses its own set of skills. The character development allows you to level up each of the characters in accordance to what suits your play style.
For example, with the Blademaster, you can make them an all-out powerhouse of destruction -- or you can choose to make them more a defensive type. Which of these types you choose will depend on the skills and the stats that you distribute points into.
You don't need to choose either one or the other; you can also have a character that is a little bit of everything if you wish. The system gives you full freedom, allowing you to shape your character and your allies as you want or need them.
If you are unhappy with your choices in leveling up your characters, you can go to an NPC that will allow you to redistribute all the points. This further adds to the strategic element of the game, as you can change your characters stats and skills in accordance with different circumstances.
It is a fun system and one that makes you think about how you want to shape each of the characters at your disposal. Not only that, but it is dead easy to follow -- whereas a lot of CRPG games can be quite complex and difficult to understand.
The easy to follow system allows for all players of all to no experience to play with little difficulty.
When previewing Avadon 3 I did criticize a few of the skills for being overpowered. Since then, however, the combat and skills appear to have had a rebalance. On my second playthrough for this review, I found everything to be much better balanced.
While there are difficulty spikes as you progress, they are not something that will become a hindrance. They offer a challenge but not so difficult they are infuriating. Overall, it is a very balanced, interesting and enjoyable system.
A brilliant CRPG
Little has changed since I previewed Avadon 3 last month. In truth little needed to be. There are a few noticeable tweaks and some polish since my previous experience but it still stands as a brilliant CRPG. Although, it certainly isn’t spectacular in the visuals or audible departments.
What it lacks there, however, it more than makes up for in depth, plot, and content. There are dozens of quests to complete, secrets to find, tons of items and a large array of skills. The plot is deep, interesting, intense and well told. The characters are also equally well-written.
It is a game that players of all skill levels can play. From those new to the genre to the masochistic veterans looking for the ultimate challenge, Avadon 3 caters for all. It is a game that keeps you hooked from the very beginning right through to the end.
I’ve enjoyed every minute of both playthroughs of this game and can’t recommend it highly enough. If you are a fan of CRPGs or looking for a deep story where your choices matter, then Avadon 3 will satisfy your cravings.
Its price tag of $19.95 may appear steep, but what it offers in content and play time more than justifies it. There will also be an optional add-on available to purchase for $9.95. This add-on includes instructions manual, hint book, and wallpapers. Avadon 3 will be available on Steam for PC and Mac users September 14th, 2016. It will also be available on iPad.
Disclaimer: A copy of the game was provided by the publisher for the purpose of this review.