Avadon: The Black Fortress Review
Although I've only played Avadon: The Black Fortress for about 15 hours which by estimate puts me at about the halfway point (maybe even less), I'm going to review it anyway. This is not because I'm tired of the game (I look forward to finishing it) but because I'd like to post my review for the game while it's still relatively new on Steam in the hopes of drumming up a few extra sales for a game that deserves them. If my opinion of the game changes after I've finished it, I'll be sure to post an update.
Avadon takes an hour to get going but once it does, it's an engaging game. The setting is generic D&D fantasy (albeit with you working for the morally ambiguous fantasy equivalent of the UN) but the world is well crafted, the characters have personality, the individual scenarios are interesting, and the writing is solid. I especially enjoyed how the game gives out different dialogue depending on who is in your party. It strikes a happy medium between linear (the main plot) and non-linear (plenty of optional quests and dungeons to explore). The LV-Up system isn't too complex (each level you get 1 stat point and 2 skill points and occasionally you get a specialization point) but it's fun and lets the player customize their character's stats & abilities nicely. Combat is turn-based on a grid and has depth without sacrificing pacing. Oh and there's ton of loot along with tons of equipment slots to equip said loot on.
I did have a few issues with the game here and there though. I would have preferred more party slots (you can only have 3 characters in your party at a time), more class options (only 4 classes which basically correspond to Warrior, Ninja, Mage, and Druid), and some sort of innate difference between the main character and the characters you can recruit (whatever class you pick for your main character is exactly the same as the character of that class you can recruit as far as I can tell). Difficulty can feel a bit unbalanced at times – playing on Normal mode, I found the boss fights to be well designed and offer a good challenge but I was able to breeze through most non-boss fights just by spamming basic attacks. The interface can be a little clunky at times – for example, "I" opens up the inventory page but pressing "I" again won't close it. And though I eventually got used to it, the presentation was more old-school than I would have liked (90s graphics and no music, just ambient noises).
Still, these are relatively minor complaints. If you're tired of all the FPS/RPG hybrids that we've been getting lately and want a good old-fashioned RPG with a well-crafted story, a host of quests, plenty of stats, and fun turn-based grid combat, Avadon is a great choice. Even though I'm not finished with my first playthrough, I'm already anticipating replaying the game on a higher difficulty level to try out different story choices and new combat strategies.
Avadon: The Black Fortress can be purchased on Steam for $10.