I am a big fantasy fan. If I’m going to read a book, chances are it’s going to be fantasy. I honestly can’t say what it is about fantasy that makes me enjoy it more than any other genre. I guess because it’s just such a different world than our own, yet unlike sci-fi it doesn’t have all this strange technology. Right along with fantasy, I enjoyed studying mythology in school. Of course it was mostly Greek mythology, but every culture has myths. Because of these two interest, I was looking forward to playing Faery: Legends of Avalon, an arcade game on XBL.
Faery tells the story of, obviously, a faery who has been awakened from their crystal sleep by Oberon, the Faery King. You’re informed that men have been forgetting about magic & that’s causing the faery world to slowly die out. He tasks the player with traveling through three mirrors to find out what evil is threatening the different magical lands & restore them. This journey will take you to the Yggdrasil tree, the Flying Dutchman, & the City of Mirage. Along the way you battle various enemies, ranging from everyday to mystical, complete quests for the inhabitants & gather a small band of fellows to help you along the way.
As you would expect, a game about faeries involves a lot of flying around. There is absolutely no walking. Aside from the defined border around each world, you can flying to every point in the level. Combat in the game is turn-based. You & your companions (you can have two follow you) have both physical & magical attacks. At first you can only make one move per turn, but as you increase in level you gain more moves. Also as you level up, you gain points to morph your faery character. Wings, horn, tattoos & other physical characteristics not only change the way you look, but also grant your faery different powers.
Narrative: Average. At times it seems the plot is just a convenient way to string together different worlds. There were moments when I felt I was just randomly flying around completing quests that just happened to solve the current world’s problem. The only really interesting twist comes at the very end, when you learn why you were in crystal stasis in the first place & confront Oberon. But then the game ends right when things start getting interesting. The sidequests are also pretty basic. They really just amount to hunt & fetch quests. You companions are pretty forgettable as well. They all seem to have one defining characteristic & that’s it. You’re interactions with them are very limited. There’s certainly no development. There’s also a sort of approval system with some characters where your responses cause them to love you more or less (with one exception, all nice responses make people love you more). This doesn’t affect the game much, other than if a character really likes you they’ll give you things or learn new spells. There’s also a “romance” option depending on whether your faery is male or female, but aside from some light flirting & an awkward confession near the very end, it’s barely noticeable (but you can still see it from a mile away). Overall, at the end of the day you feel a bit let down. Score: 2
Mechanics: Certain aspects work better than others, but nothing’s stellar. The exploration part of the game is fairly impressive. Zipping around the skies is enjoyable. When I got bored, I often found myself flying to the highest point in the level & dive-bombing to the ground just for the fun of it. Sadly, the other aspects don’t hold up as well. Combat is slow & uninspired, even by turn-based standards. There isn’t much in the way of strategy aside from figuring out which type of attack works best on the enemy. You just attack with your strongest spells & heal when necessary. Combat is very easy. I only had to heal a handful of times. Even the boss fights are dull. But the biggest complaint I have is with the quests themselves. Let me give an example of a quest & see if you can figure out my issue:
In the final level, City of Mirage, part of the main quest involves finding out why the giant scarab the city rests on can’t see where it’s going. So I flew around, asking the various inhabitants if they knew what the problem was. Eventually one told me it must be because of a spell by a powerful Ifrit. He also told me it lives in a cave on the scarab’s side, but the cave is full of ghouls. So I have two options: face the ghouls head-on or find a way to drive them out. Playing the peaceful path, I talked to all the inhabitants again until the Peri Priestess gave me the recipe for a potion to drive them off. So I went around asking the inhabitants if they knew where the items were. Two people gave me the bowl & incense I needed, & I collected poppy seeds from the ground, which were only there because I specifically asked about them.
Do you see my issue? The quests become very tedious. You have no option but to talk to everyone repeatedly to reveal the next step of a quest. If you don’t the object, location or enemy needed won’t appear. Aside from an occasional choice between peaceful & aggressive action, it’s very straightforward. I don’t mind linearity in games, but at least vary up what my next action is other than “Talk to villager.” This game is linear to the point of suffocating. Why do I have to ask about poppy seeds before they appear? Why can’t they be there from the beginning & I just hold onto them until I need them? Even my enjoyment of the flight mechanics can’t save the gameplay from monotony. Score: 2
Aesthetics: The presentation of the game is really the best part. The visuals are very well done. Everything has a sort of cell-shaded quality to it. The creators did a good job of designing the creatures & enemies. They range from mundane bees & crabs, to ghosts, to dryads & mermaids. Of course, there were a few creatures that I wasn’t sure what they were supposed to be. But the broad range of mythical creatures is nice. The environments are also well designed. They did an excellent job of making the player feel like they’re in a faery world. Particularly in the Yggdrasil & Flying Dutchman levels, you feel so small compared to your surroundings. The audio is nice as well. There’s no voiceacting, other than battle cries & grunts. However, the music is suitably fantasy-eque without being obtrusive. The only complaint I have for sound is that the same music plays during every battle. Score: 4
Replay Value: Very limited. One playthrough should be enough. Unless you’re obsessive-compulsive & absolutely have to play every character, power & story path option, you probably won’t play this more than once. Score: 2
Overall Score: 2
Final Words: The repetitive nature of the quests really drag the game down. Even if you’re a fantasy fanatic, there are much better games out there to spend your time & money on. Unless a sequel is released that continues the plot twist at the end & improves the gameplay, this game isn’t really worth it.
Title: Faery: Legends of Avalon Console: XBL, PSN, PC Rating: E10+ Cost: 1200 MP, unsure for other consoles Developer: Spiders Studio Publisher: Focus Home Interactive Release Date: November 10, 2010 (XBL), January 11, 2011 (PSN)