Review: Faery: Legends of Avalon (XBLA)

Review: Faery: Legends of Avalon (XBLA)
2.0/5 Review Score:

When thinking of a turn-based RPG, most gamers have the games of Japanese developers come to mind, with androgynous male leads, convoluted storylines, and hours of grinding levels to defeat the three-tiered mega-boss at the end of the game. Faery: Legends of Avalon bucks this trend and presents a turn-based RPG set in a fantasy world rooted in real-world mythologies, though from a much smaller perspective. There are trolls, ghosts, elemental monsters, and lots of chatting.

Faery: Legends of Avalon screenshot 1

As the story begins, you find yourself as a faery (or “fairy”) just awakening from a long slumber inside a crystal. Two small faeries inform you that you’ve been awoken by the King of Faeries, Oberon, to save the faery realm. Since humans have begun to stop believing in faeries’ existence, the magic is seeping out of their world. To help, you have to travel to other realms with your team of magical creatures, with areas based on existing mythologies, such as Yggdrasil the world tree from Norse mythology or The Flying Dutchman from naval folklore. Oberon himself is from Renaissance literature, even featuring in Shakespeare’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream. You travel to these places, solve the issues of its inhabitants, and defeat the dangers lurking within. All while leveling up, exploring for treasure chests, and learning of the happenings in each world.

Faery: Legends of Avalon screenshot 2

The gameplay consists of flying around in a third-person perspective, interacting with NPCs and treasure chests, and fighting enemies. The flying bit is a point-and-go affair, and it works great when you’re in the game’s open worlds, which are nice to look at and very spacious in all three dimensions. You can fly from the roots of Yggdrasil to the top and through the branches, or weave in and out of the various areas and cabins of The Flying Dutchman. The problems arise when you’re indoors. First off, the game’s brightness is low, so when you head into, say, a cave, it’s REALLY hard to see where you’re going. Along with the flighty controls, which are a boon in the great outdoors but your worst enemy otherwise, you will quickly get turned around and even lost (of special note is the first dungeon in the second area). This is truly poor design, but if you can look past it, it’s not a complete dealbreaker, though it comes close at times. With the somewhat boring story backing it, the gameplay does wear a bit thin.

Faery: Legends of Avalon screenshot 3

I’m sure you’ve noticed I haven’t mentioned the meat of any RPG, the battle system. And that’s because there’s not much to talk about. This is absolute bare-bones turn-based gameplay. After running into a monster (no random encounters here) you choose from attacking (Attack or Offensive Magic), provide support (Defensive Magic or Objects), or change party formation (Position). Your secondary characters are each skilled in a particular element, with the player character able to change the element they attack with and their stats using equipment found throughout the game, and most enemies have resistances and weaknesses to particular elements. But, you find yourself not needing to change strategies too often. You may need to when faced with a beetle or ghost that can resist a particular element and everyone in your party currently uses that element, but otherwise you can just attack with your full strength and carve a swath through the game’s enemies. This is especially true if you set the game’s difficulty to the lowest setting, though turning it to the max may give you a run for your money.

Faery: Legends of Avalon screenshot 4

The largest issue with this game is its length. If you see and do everything in the game, it’ll take you less than 10 hours. You could go back and replay the game with a different character build, but you’d probably be hard-pressed to find the drive to do so. It is kind of neat how, when you level, you can choose a body part to transform. For instance, you can choose to change your wings into those of a butterfly, granting you lightning abilities and then grow a scorpion tail to poison your targets. And, at least the view is nice, with the game’s graphics making for a varied trip and the four areas you visit along with the game’s dungeons all have distinct visual styles, from Avalon’s rocky coast to Mirage’s Baghdad-themed city streets. It has impressive graphics for an Arcade title.

Faery: Legends of Avalon screenshot 5

Faery: Legends of Avalon is a full-fledged RPG, but never seems to do much with it. Going in as a veteran gamer, I couldn’t get past the fact that the game almost felt like a “trainer” game, to teach you how to play such games before moving on to a “real” RPG, like Final Fantasy XIII or Star Ocean: The Last Hope. But, if you can look past its shortcomings, Faery can offer a short but fun distraction. It does some cool things with its leveling mechanic and its neat being so small, but it’s slow, plodding story hinders the flow of the game. But, in the end, it feels like it should be in the digital equivalent of the bargain bin.

Faery: Legends of Avalon gets a not-so-magical 2 / 5

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