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It is always easy to criticize Spiderweb games based on fairly simple graphics - this remains true, but everything here is done in higher resolution and looks better than any previous entry in the series. This is definitely one of the best role-playing games of the year, and is friendly to those new to the series as well as veterans. Hints that pop up as you play the early sections of the game get you immediately immersed, but there is depth of control and party management that defies mastery. You will find yourself pulled into extended 'one more battle' gaming sessions, yet the journal is clear enough that you can walk away for quite a while and then hop back into it effortlessly. It runs on just about any Mac or PC and is available as a small download from Spiderweb Software, making it easy to try out. As I have said before - what Avernum 5 lacks in visual presentation, it makes up with immersive story-telling and engaging gameplay.
The biggest issue for returning players might be fatigue – have they seen all this before? The answer really depends on what you expect – yes, the graphical and UI improvements are “only” incremental and, yes, most of the mechanics are familiar but I think that devalues the work Spiderweb has put into the story, the encounters and the Battle Disciplines. Remember the grand, classic roleplaying adventures before the current crop of 20-30 hour cinematic action games that dominate the genre? Spiderweb is the only company still regularly producing those and Avernum V is a worthy addition. Check out the generous demo.
While Avernum 5 has its flaws, they don’t do much to sully the experience. The world is huge and immersive. You can spend all your time exploring all the little nooks and crannies and extra dungeons hidden at the edges of the map, or you can determine the outcome of conflicts, join organizations, or piss off entire towns. More games need to do these things. But maybe even more than that, the Avernum series sets itself apart from the legions of other fantasy CRPGs with its phenomenal milieu; an Empire soldier might not want to trudge through miles of winding underground caverns, with their unique ecosystems and civilizations and problems, but I sure do. It’s different. And that difference is a very good thing.
De combinatie van de zeer uitgestrekte wereld compleet met fraaie ingame map, de honderden quests, de vele dungeons en forten die je kan bestormen, de verrassende plotpoints en de turnbased combat maken ook van deze Avernum 5 een aanrader al biedt de game maar bitter weinig nieuws t.o.v. Avernum 4.
Here’s something to think about: if Avernum 5 was created as a big budget game using the latest technology, then it would probably be hailed as an outstanding RPG for the masses; but then again, if it had been, would the story and gameplay have survived the development process intact? Who knows. All we can say is that this certainly ought to please hardcore RPG players and veteran nostalgists alike.
However, there are a couple of other green slimes in the ointment aside from Avernum’s rather crude aesthetics. Primarily we’re talking about the interface, which bristles with irritating facets. Looting monsters and working with the inventory is unnecessarily convoluted, and simple things like not being able to press Escape rather than click a button to leave a menu also aggravate. Finally, Avernum is expensive for an indie game, but traditionalist role-players shouldn’t be put off by the price.
I have to say that the game, while rich in plot and story, lacks in visuals and sound, may be enjoyed by few. I would like to see the folks at Spiderweb software be given a big budget and let loose.