Type of app: Role Playing Game (RPG)
Platform/where to buy: iPad (no iPhone version); available in the App Store
Developer: Spiderweb Games
Avernum 6 is an epic, indie fantasy role-playing adventure. It is optimized for the iPad and features an enormous world, a fascinating story, and 30+ hours of gameplay.
Travel into the strange subterranean land of Avernum, full of dungeons, labyrinths, and constant warfare. A set of disasters threatens to destroy your homeland in a spasm of famine and warfare. Only you can help your people to get to safety before everything falls apart.
As you wander the gigantic world of Avernum, you will experience:
* An enormous world. Hundreds of quests, dozens of dungeons and enemy fortresses, and multitudes of characters.
* A fascinating storyline, full of surprises, treachery, and epic battles.
* Many unique encounters. Not just mindless hack and slash. * Many unusual enemies that will require clever tactics to defeat.
* Rich game system with over 50 spells and battle disciplines, many character building options, and powerful secret skills to unlock.
* Unique game world. Unique races and settings make Avernum different from any RPG out there.
* When you purchase Avernum 6 HD, you get the entire game! No need to keep buying more stuff inside the app.
Major features: I have talked quite a bit about Spiderweb Software and their Avernum series here before, so let me be very clear: Avernum VI is my favorite game from Spiderweb, one of my very favorite ‘indie’ games, and one of the better RPGs released in the last decade. Whew. In fact, here is what I said in my review of the PC version:
Avernum VI is a wonderful close to a wonderful game series. Full of interesting characters, great writing, humor, drama, fun sidequests, and more, the game rewards gamers who stick it out through the end – and very much rewards those of us who have been along for the ride since the start.
So for me the real question was – how well did they do bringing the experience to the iPad?
Well … aside from being the best Avernum game, this is the best iPad port of any of Jeff’s games. He has sharpened his skills with each release and continued learning what works and what doesn’t. The touch-based combat works extremely well, and the interface simply feels like it was made for the iPad. Text is readable, information provided is appropriate, and the display works to keep your hands out of the way as much as possible.
Avernum VI features a huge story filled with mystery, intrigue and twists. Along the way you meet wonderfully realized characters and situations, get involved in local disputes, take care of trivial tasks for small rewards, and explore the world looking for a fight. This synergy of possibilities makes the game shine. You are rarely forced to do a task at a certain time, but the pull of the main quest keeps you on track better than many other games.
At the beginning of the game you create your party, selecting four characters amongst a variety of classes and races, each with their own advantages and disadvantages. Each character gets a range of attributes and skills, and there is a great amount of depth to the character development system throughout the game. You will get enough points to be effective but will always be wanting more! There is plenty of depth to the choices and you can start different games with different parties and see a distinct difference.
The visuals in Avernum VI look great on the Retina iPad display, with plenty of detail and loads of finger-space to accurately choose locations and enemies. The world is huge and varied in looks and terrain, with plenty of interior and exterior regions to explore. Unlike many games where entering a building requires a load screen for a small area, everything is continuous in the world of Avernum. There are dungeon areas that are loaded in, but the load is nearly instantaneous and the resulting area is massive.
The large overarching story is with you at all times, given out in chunks of quests by a variety of characters throughout the game. Historically the Avernum games have been very linear in terms of main quest, with the side quests filling in much of the variety. There is still some amount of ‘gating’, wherein you cannot access new areas without completing the existing quest tree – but the majority of the game gives you extensive freedom to not only explore the massive world, but also in how you go about accomplishing quests.
There is still a huge amount and variety in the side-quests available in Avernum 6, and as is true with most RPGs they represent much of the ‘flavor’ and interest of the experience. Most of the side-quests are fairly simple and single-tiered, but there are some that are more complex and require thought and planning. There are also quests with repercussions, where you can for example succeed at killing off bandits but fail to protect the captives you were meant to save!
One thing I have always loved with the Spiderweb games is they are fairly ‘family friendly’. That continues with Avernum VI – it requires loads of reading, and has some dark themes, but nothing beyond what a middle schooler can handle.
The turn-based combat system is efficient at getting you into and out of combat quickly while still requiring you to think and plan. This is critical because Avernum VI is a combat heavy experience, and could otherwise have become boring. Enemies get harder as you also advance, but you can always sense your progression of power.
Ease of use/Overall performance: For anyone who has played Avadon or Avernum: Escape from the Pit on the iPad, jumping right into Avernum VI HD will not present a problem. The game loads and plays flawlessly without slowdowns or crashes, and load-times are quick … and there are dozens of hours of content!
Would use again/recommend?: Absolutely! Avernum VI on the iPad takes the crown of ‘best mobile RPG’ easily and I have already restarted and played with different character types and approaches because it is such a rich and rewarding experience.
Suggested changes/wish list for updates: Nothing.
Here is a video of me playing the early part of the game: