by Marko Susimetsä
reviewed on PC
Puzzling in Avalon
The realm of Avalon is in danger of succumbing under the power of evil Morganna (more commonly known as Morgana or Morgan le Fey) and, as Merlin ends up trapped into an evil spell by the dark mistress, it falls to his young beautiful apprentice, Evelyne, to try to learn the magic of ancient runes and to save both Merlin and Avalon.
Avalon and Merlin are names that are often seen in games and aspiring fantasy novels. Sometimes it feels that they are seen way too often and that the market is over-saturated with Merlin this and Avalon that. But in Runes of Avalon these thoughts never enter your mind – you are too engaged in solving the puzzles to let yourself be bothered by such little things!
Runes of Avalon is a puzzle game from Anawiki Games that takes a lot of inspiration from old classics, such as Tetris and the popular Amiga title Coloris. What you get is blocks in various shapes and sizes that you must try to fit together so that you get three or more runes of the same colour in a row. Once you align the runes up, they are moved away from the playing field and added to your overall score. The problem here is that you seldom get pieces that fit perfectly with what you already have on the board and you have to go with your best judgement – or skill – in order to survive long enough to finish the puzzle. Unlike in Tetris or Coloris, the pieces will not fall from the top of the screen, but you are free to place them on the board where you like. This doesn't make it much easier, though, since the boards are not clean slates, but are usually already inhabited by runes of various sorts and alignments – earning the name puzzle.
Making things exciting
If the game was only about trying to put together similar rune stones in order to remove them from the board, it might get dull and repetitive pretty quickly. However, in Runes of Avalon the main game mode, you will be treated with a lengthy story of Merlin's apprentice on a journey to save Avalon and her mentor that manages to tie the puzzles together rather nicely. Also, you will get an occasional jigsaw puzzle when the apprentice reaches a new location on her journey. These are pretty easy, but offer beautiful images and some relaxation amidst the timed puzzles.
At regular intervals, you'll have to play through a mini game where you can earn new spells to use on the next few puzzles. This mini game involves you clicking on specific runes at the moment they appear on the screen and you can easily earn 5 or more spells this way. These spells can greatly help you in solving some puzzles, but may sometimes hinder your game as well, if you happen to use them at an inopportune moment and lose a nice construct that you had been working on. Basically, when you have earned spells, the next puzzle you start will have some of the rune stones already marked with the symbol of one of seven possible spells. You can activate the spells simply by using the marked rune in one of your rune combinations. The effects of the spells vary from blowing up all the nearby pieces, removing all the pieces of a certain colour from the board, transforming and teleporting pieces etc. In practice, activating one spell can easily lead to the activation of several other spells – if you are lucky.
The two other game modes include a timed game where you can play a time limited game on a board of your choice, and an unlimited game on similarly selectable board where the game will end only when you have no more space to put new pieces in. All the game modes have their own high score lists for the various boards, so you can easily follow your progress. Furthermore, you can have many players playing the same game with their own profiles and the game will always remember where each one of them left their game the last time they played – so you don't have to worry about saving your games.
No Pros and Cons at this time