It's a fascinating experience, brought to life in a highly textured world that provides you hours of entertainment.

"The morning broke foggy, but the fog cleared after sunrise. I had just come up from bailing below deck, when the last thick fog bank broke and the walls of Avalon appeared in the distance."

These words in my journal announced my arrival to this place that I had only heard about. This place of heroes and knights, of questing and tales, where an evil race called the Sha'ahoul plots to conquer the lan I have come to search for my brother Corvus, and bring him the sad news of our father's death.

When I first started this game, the music permeated me with feelings of suspense and danger, almost predicting the atmosphere of what was yet to come. I read the five pages of the in-game journal, which told me about the trip, during which the fleet was left with but one ship, and how the Sha'ahoul burned and pillaged every town that stood between them and the walls of Avalon. This was my entry into the world of Avalon.

"For eight months now the siege has continued, with neither side breaking the will of the other. But that balance can not last much longer."

As I finished reading the journal, I started a new game and customized my character. I was able to choose the color of his clothes, hair color and style, and give him a beard (or not). (Too bad you can't choose a female!) I gave him a random name and pondered which class he should be: Scout, Magician or Fighter? I wasn't sure what I wanted, so I read the explanation for each, and decided to make him a Fighter.

A table with the character stats allowed me to distribute some training points among them. I was confused about what would be best for my fighter, but by moving the cursor over each of them, a brief message would describe what the training points affect and represent.

Junon was born, a fighter of great strength and constitution.

Another journal entry describes my character's arrival to Avalon. The music is different now, the guitar and flute are calm and relaxing, almost as if there is hope for Avalon and it all comes down to me now.

I found Corvus in his quarters, and gave him the sad news. After a little chat, he had to leave for battle and I am left to find my way around and start adventuring.

It's dark inside the castle! The few torches aren't enough to light my way and even playing with all the lights off in my room, it was a bit hard to distinguish shapes. Still, I managed to find some chests containing armor and a rusty sword. Every item you equip on your character is visible in the game screen, so you can really make a fashion statement in your appearance!

I decided to explore the castle before finding… whom did my brother say again? Captain Avarus or something? I'll read the quest log later, everything I say and do goes there anyway! I found the ladies in the kitchen needed some help, there are strange noises going on in the basement and the provisions are disappearing. I go to the basement to find a bunch of giant beetles running around. After getting rid of them, I examined the place… there seems to be a hole on the wall here, hmm… beetles couldn't have done this, could they?

I report to the kitchen to tell them the basement was secure and was sent on another quest right away. I explored some more but still can't find General Roth or Captain what's-his-name… instead I found Elarath the Wizard, who offered to teach me some spells. There's a lot to chose from, but they cost training points. Hmm, I got some of these when I finished my first quest! I'll take the Heal and Hold spells.

The interface is easy to use; everything is a click away. The journal, logs, awards and titles can be checked at any time: talking to people and listening to them, completing quests and killing certain foes will update the journal, quest log or adventure log. These entries contain clues about what do to, who to talk to or where to go next if you get lost, which is very useful because you are given quest after quest.

The map is uncovered by walking through the areas and is very useful. Unfortunately, it doesn't always show the terrain fully, only the area you are currently in The inventory is easily accessible, and will show what items you carry, the amount of gold, and all equipped items. Right clicking in any of them will show the item's info.

At the center of the interface, a symbol shows the current spell in use, and clicking on it takes you to the spell menu, where you can change spells whenever you like.

At the top right corner of the interface is the character. Clicking on him will show his details. Moving the cursor over a certain stat will display a brief description of it.

To the right, there is a blue amulet and a red test-tube… these are you magic and health meter! Make sure you pay attention to these – they can go down FAST!

After bumping into someone around every corner who has new info for my journals or a new quest for me to endure, I found my way to the Outer Keep, which is where this Captain fellow is. On the way, I found a blacksmith, who gave me the task of finding some steel in order to forge me a good sword.

Oh, there it is, the training place! The Captain greets me, and shows me to my training partner.

After a minute of what I thought it was practice, Mulduc, my training partner drops dead! I can even loot his corpse, wow! Look at the sword, it's better than mine! And a bow and quiver! Well, that surely paid off!

Now I am back on my way to find things to kill, where's the village again?

But as soon as I made my way out of the arena, the Captain comes running towards me and attacks me! OOPS! A journal entry and gruesome music tell me I'm dead.

Siege of Avalon is a medieval single-player episodic RPG, similar to Diablo and Baldur's Gate that involves a great deal of reading and questing.

The game is composed of six chapters, which you can download. The first chapter is free (we're not talking your usual demo here, it's the full chapter). You don't have to play all six chapters, only the first, second and the last are the key chapters and contain the main plot.

The others are expansions that let you go deeper into the story and develop your character. Consider them as power-leveling chapters, although you don't actually level!

The story is very rich and becomes involving and every quest you accept is only a small piece of the puzzle that is Avalon and its story. The sub-plot that touched me the most was the people that live in the underground temple. The town suffered some sort of curse that made the people gradually lose their intelligence and turn into monsters. Only a few of them can speak and hardly in full sentences. However the creatures still make their sadness and despair evident and I couldn't help but to feel sorry for them. I don't know if there is a way to save these creatures, but maybe there is more about them in the next chapter.

Sometimes you are able to get party members by accepting certain quests. In this case you have to keep an eye out for their health as well. And if necessary, you can control one at a time (they tend to be slow and get stuck in corners or play dumb and not attack).

If reading and questing is the reason you enjoy playing games, then you will get a kick out of this one. The first chapter can be downloaded at http://www.siege-of-avalon.com. The others are paid for, $9.95 per chapter or $40 for all of them. If after playing Chapter 1 you decide you don't like it, nothing is lost, it was free after all.

Siege of Avalon is more than just a game; it's a fascinating experience, brought to life in a highly textured world that provides you hours of challenging entertainment.

And like my journals say, "I may be young and untried, but I will make a place for myself among the Heroes of Avalon."

Review text part of Grrlgamer.com