Faery: Legends of Avalon First Impressions
We come across all kinds of mythical creatures in this downloadable role-playing game.
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For many role-playing game fans with tight schedules, it can be tough to dedicate dozens of hours to a game before the next one catches your eye. Downloadable titles are known to be easy to pick up and shorter in length so that you don't have to commit your evenings and weekends to beat them. That's likely why you won't find too many RPGs on Xbox Live Marketplace or the PlayStation Network, but Jehanne Rousseau, CEO and producer of Faery: Legends of Avalon, hopes that there will be a place for her upcoming RPG, where you play as a customizable male or female fairy who has set out to save the dying kingdom of Avalon.
Legends of Avalon is a turn-based RPG set in several unique worlds that borrow elements from European myths that some of you might be familiar with, such as the World Tree or the Flying Dutchman. As a tiny fairy, you have a pair of delicate wings that let you fly all over the place so you can go anywhere in the area. Initially, you start off with one companion of the opposite gender, a male or female fairy depending on whom you chose as your main character. As you progress through the game, you'll come across other companions that can be a member of your three-person party. There are six characters to meet in all. Two are optional, so you can swap them around at the mirror gateway between worlds for a bit of variety (we hear there is some drama that unfolds as well).
In this world where humans and fairies once coexisted happily, the kingdom of Avalon is now dying, and it's your quest to find out why this is happening and why magic is seeping out of the realm. What's interesting is that your interaction with every non-player character that you come across will influence how the game turns out. We were told that it's not going to be as extensive as a BioWare RPG, but your choices do matter to some degree. Depending on what you say, your relationship with another character could be a positive one or a negative one. The story reflects the choices you've made, and there are three endings. Quests can also be completed in a variety of ways. For example, to get rid of a termite infestation in the World Tree, you can either get rid of the pests yourself or lead an army of ants to do the deed for you. Your progress is documented in a book, which you can then share with other people online so they can see how you've completed different quests and how you've customized your fairy.
Combat is turn based, and you'll gain experience and levels as you fight, as well as when you talk to those around you. You have a standard attack, as well as offensive and defensive magical abilities that you can customize from the menu. We had three action slots (similar to the segmented active time bar in Final Fantasy XIII) and were able to queue up three attacks in each turn. To customize your character in the menu (outside of battle), your fairy has a set number of slots on his or her wings and body, where you can pick what kind of ability you want to pursue. Once you've made your decision, you can't go back and change it, so the spell or skill you chose will evolve as you increase in power. Your character evolves too with the skills, so your fairy will look very different by the end of the game. Depending on what skill you assign to the wings, or the body tattoos, the appearance of your character will change. The companions that come along with you can't be customized, but they come with a unique set of skills as well, such as the ability to summon raccoons or breathe fire, so you can always change the dynamic of your party by swapping members.
The worlds that we visited were unique. One was a Persian-themed city that was situated on the back of a giant beetle. In the Flying Dutchman area, we flew around the ocean and explored the nooks and crannies of the famed ghost pirate ship. It's an interesting perspective to be flying through the windows of the ship, weaving among the lower decks. Beautiful mermaids were lounging in the dark waters, and sinister-looking dead pirates manned the decks, so it was fun to explore the environments as a small fairy because everything we interacted with was always much larger. Legends of Avalon's cel-shaded art style fits the fantasy setting, and it was backed by a very pleasant and fitting soundtrack. We were told that the composer was inspired by classical composers like Tchaikovsky, and the music did a good job of reflecting the tone and mood of the area that we were exploring.
There's roughly 14 to 15 hours of gameplay that can be found here, so if you're looking for something that isn't quite as long as a full-scale RPG but not as short as what you're used to finding online, then keep an eye out for Faery: Legends of Avalon. The game will be coming to Xbox Live Arcade, the PlayStation Network, and the PC sometime in mid-November.