Avadon 3: The Warborn developed by Spiderweb Software, is a turn-based isometric role-playing game, the third in a trilogy to be released on Steam. The game places the player in control of a “Hand of Avadon”, an enforcer of peace. The game’s story is dense, but not unwieldy, presented to the player in chunks as needed to understand the story without having played the prequels. The sound design is passable, helping to enhance the fantasy feel, and the visuals hearken back to the likes of Baldur’s Gate.
Where the game falls short, however, is in execution. From the very start, the sound ideas of the game are crippled by a vulgar user interface. The most prominent example of this are the options the game provides for volume control. Rather than making use of sliders which adjust the volume in real-time, the game offers “sound volume” in three modes: Normal, Quiet, and Off. In order to gauge the change in volume, the player must change the setting, confirm the change, and then listen to the menu screen audio. The difference between “normal” and “quiet” is noticeable, but the lack of range means that fine-tuning the volume level requires outside manipulation.
Continuing the trend of options being insufficient, Avadon 3 does poorly on the graphical front. Despite over a dozen options for resolution, the game feels small during actual play, leading to eyestrain. This is particularly noticeable in the first zone of the game, where the bland environment makes it difficult to track the characters, particularly while idle. The game’s menus suffer a similar problem, with only a singular toggle to influence the size of the font, either “default” or “larger” though, in this case, the latter option was sufficient.
The UI also suffers in-game. Rather than items laying on the ground individually, able to be moused over and examined, identified, and obtained, the player must open their inventory, which displays an “on ground” bag, from which the player must select the items they wish to take. The game does an excellent job of making it apparent when items are on the ground, but the extra step is tedious.
Avadon 3 has the Role Playing Game (RPG) elements common to the genre, though it avoids the traditional “Strength, Dexterity, Constitution, Intelligence, Wisdom, Charisma” format of many of its predecessors. Instead, it opts for four of the six, which works well given the limited number of classes. There appear to be no dialogue-based conflicts which involve mechanics, only branching paths of conversation with differing results. The player’s party consists of up to three characters out of a total of five. Each of the player’s companions has their own side quest, short, but of substance to the endgame.
The party moves about the world in real time by clicking on the screen. As enemies near, the game switches into “Combat Mode” where actions are turn-based. However, in this turn-based mode, the player characters take actions based on the order they are placed in on the character roster, rather than freely, as combat progresses. This limits the player’s ability to make tactical decisions on the fly. The character order can be altered outside of combat, but the limitation adds an unneeded layer of complexity to encounters and encourages losing a fight, loading the last save before the encounter, and reorganising the party to tailor it to the fight, a tedious process.
Avadon 3 is a solid attempt to bring the turn-based RPG to the modern age. With franchises like Final Fantasy opting for a pseudo-turn-based format, seekers of classic tabletop-esque video games have had to turn elsewhere, and, in concept, Avadon 3 is an excellent place to turn to. The story is original, but fantastical, befitting both the target audience and the genre. However, it is marred by an obtuse interface and the odd design choice. The combat is not particularly deep, but it is fresh, bringing new features and blending elements from the likes of Diablo in with tried and true features which will appeal to fans of the classics.