Reviews by txa1265

70

A solid action-RPG you probably never saw or heard about ...

txa1265 | May 16, 2011 | Review of Avencast: Rise of the Mage DNS

The decision of 'how to market' by first-time independent developers is critical: they want to get the word out about the game without creating too much additional work for themselves to manage the communications. In this regard I would say that Eschalon: Book 1 is an example of 'doing it right' and Avencast is an example of 'doing it wrong'. Eschalon announced the game at the right time, opened up forums where the developer was active, kept in close contact with all of the major PC RPG sites, and launched with a ready-made fanbase. Avencast tried to make itself look like a major release, had little web presence, pushed for a 'real' publisher, and launched in near-total obscurity. The reason I mention that is because with a different approach, Avencast could have been a darling of the RPG community like Eschalon had they managed things better, because the core game is solid and loads of fun and is one of the more enjoyable action-RPG's I have played in a while.

The story is simple - you are a talented but lazy student at the Magic Academy who has gotten in trouble, and must complete missions to prove your abilities and worthiness to stay in the program to become a Mage. Of course, the Academy is overrun by demons and you need to wade through hordes of demons and cliches to get to the bottom of how the portal was opened and what needs to be done. While the story isn't all that strong (are they ever strong in action-RPG's?), the game looks fantastic: nice 3D characters and settings reminiscent of the graphics quality of Neverwinter Nights. Also, although the music and sound effects are fairly generic and somewhat lacking, the voice acting is surprisingly good - better than many bigger budget efforts!

But the real story here is the combat system - it IS an action-RPG, after all! Given that you play a Mage, the depth of the magic system is unsurprising - there are several schools with loads of spells for attack and defense. What is surprising is the amount of melee fighting you can do with your Mage Staff - some of the schools of magic have skills that channel magical abilities to combine with staff fighting, with awesome effectiveness. The camera is somewhat problematic, but once you get used to how everything behaves and responds you are in for a couple of dozen hours of fun. I hope Clockstone is keeping an eye on the market this year and learning - this is a very promising first effort and I am hopeful of what else they can deliver!