User review spotlight: Ultima IV: Quest of the Avatar (DOS)

The Blackwell Legacy (Windows)

76
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3.8
MobyScore
5 point score based on user ratings.
Written by  :  Stevie Parmentier (3)
Written on  :  Oct 22, 2011
Platform  :  Windows
Rating  :  3.17 Stars3.17 Stars3.17 Stars3.17 Stars3.17 Stars

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Summary

A good start but far from perfect

The Good

The game has a very nostalgic vibe about it with a VGA look (320x200 resolution and 256 colours) and colourful backdrops. The setting and story is quite good although a bit primitive in places. The interface is kept very simple and easy to use.

The Bad

Almost every area of the game is flawed:

The backdrops look a bit primitive in places which I generally don't mind but combined with the game being very short and having only 4 locations (and 12 screens in total) they could have done better.

The story is rushed through, really. Adventure games have to have a good strong story so background info to flesh it out is important to me. The letters from Rosa's grandmother were a good start but it went downhill from there, with even the ghost Joey not really giving any info or refusing to. It makes it feel like the game is too shallow and flat.

The game is also terribly linear, with a single step being able to stop you completely. Most puzzles are very logical, but it's less fun when you constantly have to travel around the same areas to unlock the next clue. Since this game relies on your notebook, every clue ends up getting passed around everyone you can talk to (only a few people luckily).

Voice acting is a mixed bag - I thought Rosa's voice was pretty annoying at times. She may fit the character very well in a realistic sense, but it didn't make it very appealing to listen to her talk all the time.

The main annoyance, is the game's length though. You can complete it in three hours - that's how long I took and I didn't rush at all. Half the time is spent running back and forward trying to find the next scrap of info but generally, it's far too short. When the game ended, I thought another story would follow but it doesn't, that was it. In size, this is about the first part of Monkey Island 2 where are on Scabb Island.

The Bottom Line

It's an adventure game that borrows from many others (Gabriel Knight for one) and keeps it simple. Rosa, the girl you play, has a ghost called Joey who hangs out with you and together, you solve mysteries. It's also more an investigative adventure game (think Discworld Noir) and less a game centered around object hunting and combining.