Game Review:Faery: Legends of Avalon
Release: November 10, 2010
Developer: Focus Home Entertainment
Available Platforms: XBLA (soon to be released on PSN)
MSRP: 1200 MSP
ESRB Rating: Teen
I usually support and applaud all indie or pseudo-indie efforts when it comes to gaming. This is a difficult medium to get into, so anything independent that gets released is a really good thing. That’s why I started Faery: Legends of Avalon with a healthy dose of optimism, knowing that it could have shortcomings but seeing beyond the surface its merits and honest intentions.
Faery: Legends of Avalonis a turn-based RPG, with slight modern components (like abundant choices) that tells the story of either an elf or a faery (fancy ways of saying ‘winged male and female beings with long ears’) who has been in stasis for a long time, only to be awaken with the mission of saving the magic worlds. Apparently there was a time where fairies and other magic beings lived peacefully among men, until the latter started doubting and judging the role of magic. Eventually, the magic worlds got expelled from the lives of men, and began to slowly fade. This is where you come in.
The game can be accurately described as a really ambitious and yet flawed project. The first impression you’ll get is that a lot has been spent on its production values, which are, for the most part, really high. The cell-shaded graphics and charming particle and lighting effects do a good job on setting the fairytale and fantasy mood, as well as the appropriately composed, yet repetitive music. However, after a couple of minutes of actual gameplay (having gotten past the incredibly painful character customization process) everything starts to slowly (slow being a key word) go downhill.
Unfortunately, the novelty of the well implemented fantasy setting wears off pretty quickly. There is not a single line of voiced dialogue, which is disappointing, especially for a modern RPG; and what’s written is absolutely horrible and boring. I tend to pay a lot of attention to what role-playing games are trying to transmit via their stories (a big selling point for me, and most RPG fans), but with this game I just wanted to skip everything as soon as possible to avoid the unbearable amount of ridiculous, childish and misspelled conversations. In addition, such conversations use a wheel mechanism blatantly similar to the one found in Mass Effect; it goes as far as to differentiate the ‘good’ and ‘evil’ responses with a blue and red color respectively, which, despite the quality source from which it’s inspired, suffers from a series of issues. The biggest one is the fact that choices are quite uninteresting; they usually include something like ‘talk’ or ‘help’ (for the good choice) and ‘fight’ (for evil). This means there aren’t actually any difficult choices that question your morality, which goes completely against the purpose of such a gameplay device.
In addition to how slowly the story unfolds, the actual quests are kind of dull. You practically play a messenger to a whole bunch of lifeless people, doing stuff like getting missing papers of a book, finding a certain person in order to send someone else regards, gathering ingredients for a recipe, tickling the back of a bird, etc. Sometimes you’ll have to fight your way through the quests, and that’s admittedly a fun, albeit overly easy part of the game. Combat is hit and miss in Faery: Legends of Avalon; it borrows heavily from early Final Fantasy titles, as well as more recent releases like Lost Odyssey, featuring turn-based combat where you’re able to deploy both physical and magical attacks, as well as a command for supportive items. Unfortunately, despite a fairly robust armor customization system, the actual battles are incredibly easy, eventually ruining the experience. It won’t matter if you spawn magic attacks endlessly, there’s no stamina meter or MP meter of any kind; effectively leaving no real sense of challenge or tactical strategy. Having said that, the level of customization is deep and interesting, and every choice you make in that regard will be reflected on the appearance of your character.
Graphically speaking Faery: Legends of Avalon is quite impressive. It boasts cell-shaded visuals merged with popular themes in the fantasy genre. The locations, even if somehow unoriginal are attractive and detailed. Unfortunately the character designs are for the most part, bland; there’s no real charm to the inhabitants, which helps to the lack of immersion the player will probably have with the world of Avalon. As mentioned before, the music is, at it’s best, appropriate. It’s well executed but considering you’ll spend 3-5 hours on each mirror world, the music grows eventually tired and annoying.
Faery: Legends of Avalon is a game that I really wanted to like. It’s a good looking piece of software with a lot of clear ambitions in its making. The end result, however, is a bland, easy, unoriginal and uninteresting effort that will appeal only to RPG fans who have experienced everything the genre has to offer and want to give a try to a mixture of both western and eastern game-making. It’s not a broken or overly boring experience, though; it’s just nothing special.