And while the RPG games have undoubtedly changed a lot in the last decade, very often for the better (at least in the terms of graphic, music and sound and often mechanics), there is still demand for those good old games we recall from the beginnings of our gaming careers. Avernum: Escape from the Pit HD aims both at the old guard as well as new players that are willing to explore interesting RPG game style on a completely new platform like iPad. And the game is very well worth the effort and investment. Whether you are a fan of the Avernum series or a latecomer to the show, it doesn’t matter, as long as you are able to appreciate a good RPG, you will like this title.
Going down, down underground
Alas, the story begins with you having said/done something wrong to offend the cruel Empire, and you are promptly seized and cast into a bottomless pit. However, this is no ordinary pit, you see, it is the entrance to the Underworld of Avernum, cavernous realm without daylight where the Empire shows off everyone it dislikes. Among the many criminals and cutthroats, there is a fair deal of people that simply said the wrong thing at the wrong time, or rejected to be subjects to mistreatment and abuse from the powerful tyrants. You find yourself a leader of a small band of four travelers with different abilities, so that next to your melee fighters you will also have a healer and a combat mage, all of them fitted with different offensive and defensive abilities, buffs and curses as well as area-of-effect spells. From the get go, it is a battle for survival, since the initial caves you enter are filled with thugs and beasts that want to cut you in pieces and take what little posessions you have. After you fought your way through them, you enter the first settlement of Avernum and are able to breathe easier and assess your situation. And that one is rather grim.
Basically, your chances to return to to upside world are next to none, as every dweller of the cavern world will regretfully confirm, but still you can choose to pursue that goal if you want. However, primary concern is survival, which is equal with finding work, protection, better gear, food and shelter. From there on, the sky is the limit… Or in this case, the cavern ceiling, which is some hundreds of meters above you. The beauty of Avernum is its open world where you can go off exploring to your liking, without a care in the world. Be a lone wanderer (plus the crew, of course) in search for adventures or engage in epic encounters to change the features of Avernum and topside world forever, it is your choice. In this underworld, humans are beset and besieged from all side from different races, goblins, cat and lizard-people and countless magic and bestial foes. This ain’t no picnic, to be precise.
Have it your own way
Your avatar and other three members of the merry band are highly customizable, with different types of weapon, armor, spells and traits you can pick out for them. The game has experienced some streamlining since the original, but it is for the better, and the gameplay has only benefited from it. But the principles of the game are the same – why fix something that isn’t broke? – and you will enjoy the old fashioned isometric view with turn-based combat. Honestly, it reminded me of the old Fallout games, possibly the best RPG titles ever made, and the immersion factor in the days of old was absolute! Avernum is a game that will touch the sentimental gamers at the very soft, mushy spot and prove its worth and quality quite easily.
As previously stated, Avernum is an open-end world RPG, and that is something that “modern” generations of RPG players might have an issue with, but the “old skool” ones will probably love it. You will find yourself saving and reloading as you enter areas and foes that are too much for you, and picking other venues and routes in this dark, magic world. While traversing Avernum, be prepared for the graphic that is, well, cca Age of Empires era, but that will actually increase the nostalgia sensation that this game aims for. The music in the game is minimal, and will be ignored for the sake of atmospheric sound effects, but in the end that approach, coupled with text based notifications and dialogues, the general atmosphere is more than satisfying.
In the end, Avernum is a title that we would recommend anyone who wouldn’t mind its retro look, open-ended nature and the old feel of isometric, turn-based RPG’s. Avernum is good old-fashioned RPG fun that calls us back to basics, and for that we love it! Only issue that remains which version to recommend, PC or iPad. While both look and work flawlessly, in this case we will shift towards the iPad, since this platform needs more inspiring and entertaining games like this one. Also, in the coming summer, there should be something worth playing on your iPad for those moments of peaceful relaxation on the beach. Avernum is one of those games.