Avadon: The Black Fortress HD in Review – Definitely not about King Arthur

Considering the main audience of Apple’s iOS devices, it’s no wonder there is a noticeable lack of hardcore old-school RPGs. Some of the few titles coming to mind are, of course, the now Free Undercroft (TMA Review) and the never-ending The Quest with over a dozen expansions out already. But for some reason the iPad has stayed devoid of an optimized hardcore RPG experience ever since its release in Spring 2010. Until recently that is, when Spiderweb Software finally released Avadon: The Black Fortress HD on the iPad, which was previously available only for the Mac..

Avadon: The Black Fortress HD is a true classic old-school turn-based RPG. The land of Lynaeus has had a truly trying history suffering for centuries from barbarian raids and internal conflicts. Eventually five of the nations banded together in a shaky alliance to form a Pact to protect themselves from the invaders. And to protect this pact, the Black Fortress was created and awarded with limitless authority to counter the threats from both abroad and within. Having the honour of joining the legendary forces of Avadon, you’re thrust smack in the middle of a conspiracy to break apart the lands of the Pact. The rest, as they say, is up to you!

The core of Avadon gameplay is sure to bathe the heart of any fan of old school RPGs in a warm fuzzy glow. Taking charge of your small party (your protagonist and 2 henchmen) you’ll have to explore the huge world of Avadon and carry out quests for the glory of the Black Fortress, along with quite a few sidequests. Take care of how you show yourself as many actions will have long-lasting effects, shaping things to come later in the game and allowing for great replayability. The game is completely turn-based with a virtual real-time mode used for out of combat interactions.

True to the hardcore nature of Avadon, the developers have provided quite extensive customization possibilities for your characters. You may choose one of four classes for your hero out of the general Warrior/Assassin/Summoner/Wizard archetypes. Don’t fret if you don’t know what to choose from as the henchmen are an example of each of the professions and with full control over their progression, you’ll be able to get a feel for all of them. In addition to the advanced skill tree you get quite an extensive inventory system with enchantable items and even unique artifacts called scarabs, which provide powerful bonuses to your heroes.

Having been first released on the Mac App Store, Avadon offers detailed graphics and looks nice on the iPad. At the same time though, the visual style feels a bit bleak for my taste and a richer colour palette would do wonders for the experience. The controls work reasonably well, considering the game has been adapted from a desktop version. Unfortunately some simple actions, like skipping a turn in combat by double tapping on the square beneath your unit, are a bit unintuitive and difficult to manage. And I was occasionally frustrated by the tendency of the game to crash after an extended period of being left in the background. Finally the autosave is triggered only when transitioning via the global map and unless you’re careful, it’s easy to get set back by a few hours of gameplay.

Having spent a few dozen hours with Avadon I can definitely say that it’s one of the best Role Playing experiences on the platform. The extensive character customization opportunities and the intriguing plot rich with both main and sidequests are sure to bring more than 40 hours of pure joy to any RPG fan. The layman though might find Avadon a bit too complicated, especially with the flaws in the interface and rather high level of difficulty. But if you’re prepared to live with them you’ll be damned to find a more comprehensive RPG on the iPad.

With this I declare Avadon: The Black Fortress HD officially touched!

Grab Rating - 4/5

App Summary
Title: Avadon: The Black Fortress HDDeveloper: Spiderweb Software
Reviewed Ver:v1.0.1Min OS Req:4.2
Price:$9.99App Size:106.47MB
  • 4 classes with unique skill trees
  • Extensive inventory
  • Over 40 hours of gameplay
  • Detailed intriguing storyline
  • Stability issues while multitasking
  • Rare auto-save
  • Not always intuitive interface

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