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Faery: Legends of Avalon (Xbox 360) artwork

Faery: Legends of Avalon (Xbox 360) review

"The average enemy in this game seemed to come from generic lists of animals and undead. I found it somewhat annoying that the mythical Norse Yggdrasil's dungeons were loaded with hornets and termites instead of, you know, something suited for the game's theme."

Faery: Legends of Avalon is a game that won't truly be able to be judged until its sequel(s) have been released. Depending on the degree to which Spiders Studio can refine and improve their promising concept, I can see me eventually looking at this turn-based RPG as an intriguing, if clumsily executed, beginning to a fun series. I also can see me simply dismissing it as the uninspiring start to a forgettable collection of games.

Faery's not horrible -- for a Live Arcade game, it looks great and has some good ideas. You play the role of a faery adventurer from Avalon who is released from being frozen in stasis by King Oberon because all his kingdoms are failing. After a few introductory adventures in Avalon that mainly serve to give you a pixie and troll as companions, you'll get sent off to three wildly varying worlds to save them from various issues. The World Tree Yggdrasil, the ghost ship Flying Dutchman and the City of Mirage (which sits on the back of an immense beetle) all will fade into nothingness without intervention.

While neither Avalon nor the other three lands are particularly huge, they do look nice and a lot of material is packed into that limited space. You'll have both a main quest and a number of smaller fetch quests to complete for the local residents. There also will be treasure chests scattered around the place to provide healing items and pieces of equipment. For a short game, there is a lot of equipment. I got an achievement for collecting 60 pieces and still didn't have it all. As you play, you'll realize why there are so many things to equip. You can customize your character's abilities in a number of ways as you gain levels and certain decisions you make early in the game will dictate how it grows. For me, I started out with a lightning spell. As I progressed, I found out that decision influenced what spells I could learn down the road. Since I didn't learn the basic fire spell, I couldn't pick up anything fire-related, but could obtain the enhanced lightning/storm ones. Therefore, I found myself equipping multiple pieces of the Lightning set of equipment as they'd enhance the spells I could cast. On the other hand, there wasn't much of a point to wearing Fire set goods, as I couldn't cast those spells.

Different bits of equipment adjust how your character looks, which is just one of the nice aesthetic touches here. This game legitimately feels like one set in a magical land full of diminutive faery creatures. Your guy flies to get from place to place, which gives the worlds a neat feel. When you're at Yggdrasil, there's only a small area around the base of the tree to explore. The majority of the world is located among the branches, so you'll be flying upwards in order to meet everyone and figure out how to save the tree. Character designs also were nice, as the assorted gnomes, trolls and goblins looked like they could have come out of a children's storybook.

Unfortunately, it's hard to complement Legends of Avalon as more than an attractive game possessing a number of neat ideas, as there were too many annoying flaws that made things into more of an ordeal than it needed to be. Spiders is a French group and the dialogue translation left a LOT to be desired. Typos and awkward phrasings are frequent. I noticed characters occasionally being referred to by the wrong gender and one particular person is called two different names. You'll be reading this dialogue a lot, as you can have conversations with nearly every character about a number of things and there is no spoken dialogue. The art of conversation tends to wind up being scavenger hunts to find which resident knows what you need to do next. In the City of Mirage, I was quested to find a missing weaver. This led to me going from person to person asking about her until, on the fifth try, I was told that a djinn turned her into this animal that I'd seen on top of a building. Fortunately, I knew where the djinn was.

Reading poorly-written dialogue while having to repeatedly talk to everyone in order to advance through any world got annoying, but there were a couple more pressing problems. First, to make up for how short the quest to save each world could be, you get a bunch of side quests. These tend to be little more than "find this item and give to that person" or "talk to this person and then that person" fetch quests. There is a legit reason to do these quests, as you'll often be rewarded with a piece of equipment, but it would have been nice if they weren't of the sort that I usually try to avoid when playing an RPG.

Combat also can get tedious. As the game progresses, each member of your party becomes able to commit up to three actions per turn. To make up for this, enemies can take a lot of damage with it usually seeming to take two turns to defeat any one monster. Boss fights tended to come off as anticlimactic, as fighting them oftentimes seemed no more difficult than the average group of two or three regular foes. In the City of Mirage's only dungeon, the Ifrit and Djinn bosses weren't any tougher than the many fights with ghouls on the way to those creatures. And they were both a good bit easier than the trio of mummies I had to battle to accomplish a particular side-quest. The game does often give peaceful options to various situations where you can avoid a lot of combat (while getting the same amount of experience), which is nice, but it'd have been nicer if the combat was more fun. Or if non-bosses more frequently kept with the "magical, mystical worlds" theme. The average enemy in this game seemed to come from generic lists of animals and undead. I found it somewhat annoying that the mythical Norse Yggdrasil's dungeons were loaded with hornets and termites instead of, you know, something suited for the game's theme.

While there weren't many dungeons in this game, they were probably my least favorite places to go for more reasons than the lack of imagination used in crafting many of their residents. You'd be in these attractive worlds with a character free to move just about anywhere...and then get stuck in these dark, linear, cramped dungeons where the camera becomes really annoying. Spiders probably should have zoomed out a bit for those times when you go indoors, as your party members can obstruct your vision and it's easy to get hung up on walls.

While I consider Legends of Avalon to be mediocre, it has the potential to be a good stepping stone for Spiders. When you consider the immense amount of folklore passed on through cultures, there is a near-infinite amount of subject matter to pick from for however many sequels this game will have. If effort is placed into improving the writing, making combat a more fun experience against more interesting creatures and improving a few other things, I can see me having an overall positive feeling about this game, as it at least was the beginning of something special. But if the next game also is marred with enough flaws to also be little more than a good concept somewhat lacking in execution, I doubt I'll have any fond memories of my first trip to Avalon.


overdrive's avatar
Staff review by Rob Hamilton (January 17, 2012)

Rob Hamilton is the official drunken master of review writing for Honestgamers.

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