by Chris Priestman
reviewed on X360
Arcade Title As Tardis?
Computer role-playing games have become renown for creating luscious worlds that are painted with epic landscapes, quirky and noble characters and often a deep and complex story. Mostly that is, not always. In short, they create expanse, colorful and inviting worlds.
It may seem like an oxymoron then, to place an RPG on Xbox Live simply due to the amount of content an RPG is expected to have, and the limitations of an Arcade title. Faery: Legends of Avalon is exactly that though – a downloadable RPG title. Pushing this concept further is the fact that Faery is a fully free-roaming 3D adventure that allows the player to explore every inch of its worlds. Whether it can manage to successfully create an immersive RPG experience on such a small platform is a true challenge.
Upon entering the magical land of Avalon you are asked to pick a gender and name for your fairy and create their portrait. You have a multitude of creative options, as many as most retail RPG’s with only one exception. You cannot change anything from the neck down. When your fairy is awoken from stasis you are free to spread your wings and explore the world and its characters. Your main mission is to save the ever-diminishing fairy world by restoring power to the fairy kings kingdom. According to Oberon, the fairy king, his kingdom and its creatures began to lose power after the humans lost their faith in magic (it is always the same story with these fairy types!). Being the typical lazy king, he appoints you to go to the three worlds outside of Avalon that exist within his kingdom. Your job is to find the root of the power loss, revert it and restore hope to the kingdom.
The only way to travel to these three worlds now that the humans have abandoned the magical creatures is through mirror portals. This is where the first restrictions of the game become visible, as it is designed as an Arcade title. Each world is very small and has an invisible barrier at its edge with a wall of mist beyond it. Oberon tells you that this mist has come about since the human race abandoned their kind. Upon entering it, fairies are instantly killed. Whether this is pollution or something similar is not clear but basically it serves simply as a necessary mechanic to justify the worlds being so tiny.
The worlds are certainly not of your typical RPG size and the whole game feels very restricted and transparent due to this. On the positive side, each world is varied, beautiful and captures your imagination brilliantly. Avalon is a rocky seaside world with the King’s tower placed at its heart. Yggdrasil is a world taken up completely by a vast tree and its inhabitants, the Flying Dutchman finds you aboard the legendary ship crewed by the dead and The City of Mirages is built upon the back of a giant scarab.
The cell-shaded graphics give the game a simplistic kind of feel, but one that suits its style quite accordingly. In no way is Faery intended as a deep RPG experience, partially due to the developers choice of platform, but also because this is a game that is driven by imagination. Despite the size of the worlds, its inhabitants are quite colorful and the huge variety of creatures ranging from goblins and ghouls to mermaids and a sphinx really crams a depth into these small spaces.
Earning Your Pocket Money
Perhaps one way of describing Faery is to compare its similarities to an RPG title that belongs to the last generation of consoles, maybe even older. Not only does it lack magnitude, but it also falls behind in its auditory elements. Firstly though, the game’s soundtrack is beautifully composed and flows with the tunes of a thousand magical lands and really invites that sense of wonder that fantasy realms tend to. However, this is largely the sole audio track. There are a number of sound effects that are at times unimpressive, but the audio track really suffers with the complete absence of voice acting. For a number of players this is not essentially a problem as it harks back to a time when fantasies were only imagined from written words. But as a modern game, it feels as if an important element is missing here. A further problem is that the game should appeal largely to prepubescent children and young adolescents with its style and imagination, but I doubt many will connect with the game due to a lack of voiced dialogue. The game may lose its prime audience because of this. Making things worse is that some of the written dialogue actually has spelling and grammatical errors, which make it feel a little sloppy.
If talking to the characters is not enough to put you off of the game then the quests they give you might. Mostly the quests are fairly dreary due to repetition and they often leave you with the feeling that you have wasted your time. I often finished a quest to find out that it did not affect anything, with the only sense of progression coming from the fact that you now knew that doing what you did was not the source of a problem. And when you have done something a little more significant you are rewarded by simply being told this, as opposed to witnessing a more satisfactory visual display caused by your actions. You are just left feeling empty.
Impressive character customisation, rich and imaginative worlds, companions add depth to combat, easy to grasp.
No voice acting, very linear, repetitive quests, easy combat, sometimes lacks guidance, pointless moral choice system.