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Game Info:

Avadon 2: The Corruption
Developed by: Spiderweb Software
Released: October 30, 2013
Available on: Mac OS X 10.6 (or better, reviewed), Windows XP (or better), iPad version to be released in 2014
Number of players: 1 offline
Price: $20

Spiderweb Software has developed a reputation as an independent game developer dedicated to quality role-playing games. Their newest release continues this trend, and proves to be one of their finest games to date.

Avadon 2: The Corruption picks up a few years after the events of the first game. The nation is wracked by civil war, and the leader Redbeard attempts to hold on to what remains of the Pact. Many of those who run the outposts of Avadon do so reluctantly, often openly vocalizing their contempt of the leader of the nation. The player's character becomes – or is forced into becoming – an elite soldier of Avadon, and has the option to help Redbeard reunite the squabbling factions or join the rebels and topple the "tyrant king" once and for all. In true Spiderweb fashion, game endings have been designed for either choice, and the player's decisions will shape the quality of the endings.

The player can make a character from one of five different classes: the Blademaster, the Shaman, the Sorcerer and the Shadowwalker return from the first game and are joined by the Tinkermage, an interesting character which is capable of summoning a variety of turrets that act as stationary allies. Each class can further be refined thanks to point allocation and a skill tree. Points are gained each level, and levels are gained through accumulating experience points from combat or quests. Finally, although it's strictly a cosmetic choice, the player can select a gender for their character as well, with different character portraits for each class. 

Highlights:

Strong Points: Excellent graphics, engaging storyline, lots of options for any play style.
Weak Points: Sound minimalist at best, music nonexistent.
Moral Warnings: Magic use, opportunity to rebel against government.

Once the player discovers them, additional allies can be added to the player's party. One interesting twist is that, even though a character from every class can be found, the player may only choose two companions when they venture into the areas where the action takes place. Party selection becomes a key portion of the strategy, as the player has to decide what kind of approach to take in order to solve the various quests. This approach also allows the player to go into scenarios with two of the same class, if they'd like. 

The player does not have to worry about leaving one or two characters behind, and then find those characters hopelessly outleveled by the rest of the party when they are needed. Characters that the player is not using will level up at approximately the same rate as the other characters. The player also can allocate these other characters' attribute points and skills as they see fit. The side characters will not obtain new equipment that fits their levels, unfortunately, but the player will collect lots of items that their main character can't use and these can be passed on to the other characters as needed. In addition, each character has their own personality and quirks, willing to chime in or react to events with their own styles. The player controls each of the characters in the party during combat, but outside of it, the conversations they provide help to make the other characters more fleshed out, rather than a pretty picture with a bunch of numbers.

Gameplay is similar to many other Spiderweb games, especially the previous Avadon game. Events happen in real time until combat begins. Then the game switches to a turn-based system, allowing the player to take their time and think about what they want to do, rather than the twitch-type approach of action RPGs nowadays. Spiderweb is one of very few publishers to adopt this playstyle these days, and they pull it off remarkably well. It's reminiscent of earlier, timeless role-playing games, such as Baldur's Gate or the Ultima series. 

Score Breakdown:
Higher is better
(10/10 is perfect)

Game Score - 84%
Gameplay - 18/20
Graphics - 9/10
Sound - 5/10
Stability - 5/5
Controls - 5/5

Morality Score - 88%
Violence - 6/10
Language - 8/10
Sexual Content - 10/10
Occult/Supernatural - 10/10
Cultural/Moral/Ethical - 10/10

There are plenty of options for replay value. In addition to the different classes – and the different way each class can be played based on the skills chosen – there are multiple endings, various achievements and four difficulty levels to choose from. The game provides several hours of gameplay on a single playthrough, so the options to play the game again with different results is very appealing.

The graphics in the game are top-notch, and certainly some of the finest ones Spiderweb has used to date. The graphics are sharp and clear, adopting an isometric approach that, again, echoes the style of role-playing classics like Planescape: Torment. The splash screens are lovingly painted, the character portraits are amazingly styled, and every graphic oozes with detail. It's as if Spiderweb knew that the games would be played on some of Apple's new Retina screens, and wanted to use every pixel it could to its highest efficiency. It is certainly a retro style in comparison to a lot of 3D, high-resolution games on the market, and the appearance may not be for everyone. but it's easy to see what's happening and to tell the differences between the different units.

The minimalist sound approach has practically become a signature of Spiderweb's games, however. Aside from the wonderful introductory music, there is no soundtrack, and while the sound effects convey the effects well, they don't really stand out as anything remarkable. They do their job, but aren't too memorable. The story is driven primarily through text boxes – no voice acting involved – so those who prefer more action and less narrative may find the game a bit dull in this regard. But players who prefer more immersion and plot-oriented games won't be disappointed.

Quite a bit of attention has been put into pathing and balance issues. The computer opponents - and even the allies - seem to be much more intelligent in their behavior. Most of the quests are challenging without being too difficult or that much of a pushover. The developer at Spiderweb Software has learned a lot over the years about what works, and it shines here in this game.

The graphics do lead to one potential snag with the game, however. While the majority of games that Spiderweb produces tend to be able to run on nearly any system, changes have required that the operating system of Macs to be at least OS X 10.6. While it will run under the recommended specifications, the game does seem to put a strain on older computers. Also, unlike the first Avadon game, the sequel has not been released for Linux, and it is unknown if there are any plans to do so in the future. This is an issue that will affect very few players, though.

The moral issues that tend to appear in the fantasy role-playing game genre also can be found here. Magic use is prominent, especially as the player learns more about the insidious Corruption that is tainting the lands. Crystals and potions are commonplace as well. Some of the symbols bear a vague resemblance to pentagrams, but given that Avadon's symbol also is a five-pointed star, this is likely a coincidence. Religion in the game tends to be polytheistc or naturalist-based, especially for the player class of shaman. Undead creatures make the occasional appearance as well. Language issues, except for references to “hellhounds,” are virtually nonexistent. There is little gore, aside from the occasional blood splatters or stray bones. Enemies die with a little cry and vanish, leaving just a small bloodstain on the ground to mark their passing. In terms of moral issues, Avadon 2 tends to be much milder than a lot of other games of this genre, such as Skyrim.

As mentioned above, the players do have the option of working with the established government or against it. However, justification can be made for either approach. While it would be good for the war to end and everyone to live in peace under the Pact, the leaders of Avadon do show that they are not above using brainwashing, torture, spying on their own citizens and even threats of violence to maintain the peace. There are no clear-cut good guys, which can leave the players – or the personalities they assign to their main character – to determine what the “right” actions are to take.

Avadon 2: The Corruption is an entertaining choice for role-playing game enthusiasts. Combined with old-school gameplay and dazzling visuals, the game would be a fantastic addition to any enthusiast's library. If the game is a sign of things to come, Spiderweb will continue to get better with age.

 

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Christ Centered Gamer looks at video games from two view points. We analyze games on a secular level which will break down a game based on its graphics, sound, stability and overall gaming experience. If you’re concerned about the family friendliness of a game, we have a separate moral score which looks at violence, language, sexual content, occult references and other ethical issues.

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