Impressions: Faery: Legends of Avalon

When first introduced to the world of downloadable titles, I was happy simply for Pac-Man and ports of classic shooters. Digitally-delivered endeavors are quickly becoming more and more impressive. Not only can you download and begin playing some of the latest and greatest releases in the space of an hour, but their has increased astronomically. Take Faery: Legends of Avalon. It’s a large, imaginative role-playing game chock full of heart, color, and quests to complete for both the XBLA and PSN services. Unfortunately, it also suffers from quite a few issues, marring what could have been a gorgeous, engaging adventure with much in common by way of the genre’s heavy hitters.

As you might assume, you step into the shoes of a faery. Rather than explore the world on foot as you normally might, this traditional RPG sees you flitting around on gossamer wings through an inventive, colorful world. For a relatively different mechanic as far as RPGs go, this mode of transportation works quite well, despite the occasional camera hiccups that can make it difficult to access certain areas. As you make your way through the immense, beautiful world (quite impressive for a downloadable title) you’ll meet various characters with quests for you and problems that need solving as well as tales to tell. As such a small faery, zipping around through the seemingly mammoth surroundings lends a real sense of majesty that should tickle any exploring-hungry gamer’s fancy. There are no random battles to slow you down as you make your way through the landscape, but you will encounter enemies that need to be thwarted.

Just like Faery’s traditional RPG roots, exploring, chatting with NPCs, completing quests, battles do follow suit as well. Once you happen upon a baddie, a different battle screen will greet you, where turn-based fights take center stage. Much like in similar role-playing offerings, you’re given a set amount of points that equate to the number of moves you can make per turn. If you’re an RPG fan, you’ve likely seen this system before. With three points you can choose to attack three times or at once with a larger move – it’s up to you. The Monster Rancher card game video game iterations featured a similar system. It’s simple and easy to understand, even for gamers who might not be familiar with mainstay RPG tactics.

Unfortunately, if it occurs that your enemies are too mighty, you cannot flee from battle. You’ll suffer from some untimely and unfair deaths, when they could have been avoided by simply running. It’s a small quirk, sure, but one that bothered me enough that it hindered my progress.

At the very least, leveling up and bettering your character is a simple process. Unfortunately, you only really have control of cultivating the main protagonist’s skills and abilities. NPCs advance at a pre-programmed level and thus you cannot choose which abilities they’ll gain. You may still control them, but having such little influence over their growth is a little disappointing, especially for a role-playing game.

Battle issues aside, I found that even though I enjoyed taking on NPC quests and doing their pithy favors, Legends of Avalon began to drag on severely, much like the entire Frieza saga of Dragon Ball Z. Speaking to the same people over and over began to wear on my nerves, and I realized that with so few story-influential quests going on, the plot-driven game became more of a chore to play than it should have. Even the expansive, gorgeous world began to falter – it’s much more linear than the game wants you to notice. But when you do, that’s when you realize Faery is lacking the essential “oomph” that similar frontrunners of the genre possess.

Still, there is some truly majestic music and pleasant characters to interact with, even if you find the action as lacking as I did. Sure, it’s pretty enough to appeal to the senses, and there are some genuinely entertaining moments, but in the end Faery: Legends of Avalon does little to keep players interested for long enough to see the quest through ‘til the end. It’s just one more textbook example of the necessity of certain elements when making games – an engaging story, delightful characters, fun to play, and personality. Unfortunately, Faery simply does not possess all of these things. Perhaps a sequel in the future, if possible, could address these concerns, and truly help make the fairy tale it should have been to begin with.

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