Avernum Escape from the Pit Review - www.impulsegamer.com -
Avernum Escape from the Pit
Reviewed by
Josh Waters
on
Avernum Escape from the Pit PC Preview. Overall, Avernum: Escape From the Pit is a solid RPG experience that combines classic style, a compelling story, and generous content to create an indie game that is very much worth your time.
Rating:
4.0

Gameplay 9.0
Graphics 6.5
Sound 7.5
Value 9.0
Review Date: March 2012
Developer:
Spiderweb Software
Reviewer:
Josh Waters

8.0


Avernum: Escape from the Pit

Ah, 90's PC gaming. A golden age of video game development where the only limits were technical in nature, and new shareware releases by budding developers were the advertising lifeblood of the industry.  If you feel nostalgic when you read the term "boss key", then you may just be familiar with Spiderweb Software, creator of the "Exile" series. This now classic indie franchise took the PC RPG template of the time and ran with it, allowing players to control multiple party members and customize their growth, exploring a vast underground world with a surprisingly intricate story. Avernum: Escape From the Pit is essentially a remake of the original Exile game of the same name. Escape From the Pit has been given a graphical overhaul, utilizing the isometric view used in the Avernum games released most recently by Spiderweb Software. The remake changes more than just the graphics, however, and the result is a game that is both the same and quite different from the original.

Something that should be mentioned first and foremost is that if you're looking for up-to-date, modern graphics, you might as well stop reading now. Avernum utilizes 2D graphics in an isometric view, reminiscent of the original Diablo. Obviously this makes the whole thing look quite dated. If you aren't immediately turned off by that, then let me assure you that you will probably love this game. Noticeably improved even over those of the most recent Avernum titles are the character portraits, which are in fact quite beautiful. Otherwise, the graphics are essentially identical to those of recent Avernum titles, reflecting Spiderweb's low priority on steady advancement in that area. This is something important to know because Escape From the Pit is a game that will polarize RPG players depending on how important visuals are to them.

Escape From the Pit offers several difficulty levels, as well as the ability to adjust the difficulty at any time during your game. This might come in handy depending on how quickly you want to beat Escape From the Pit, because often you will find that enemies are just too difficult and you need to go grind somewhere else before advancing to where you want to go. Yes, Escape From the Pit does involve a lot of grinding in dungeons, but Spiderweb Software has done a great job making this experience far less tedious, with diverse and well-designed environments that often use interesting tricks to create light puzzle elements. The world of Avernum is by no means boring and progressing through the game is both fun and challenging.

Audio effects are standard. They are reasonably well done, but of course can get a little repetitive after a while. The music is also quite good, but not always around. More often than not, you're just listening to ambient noise. For most players that should be fine, though. There's no voice-acting, keeping up with the no-frills style of the game.

One of the better aspects of this game is the opportunity to customize your adventuring party. Whether you want to have a balanced group featuring every type of character or whether you instead choose to enter battle with an entire team of tanky sword-wielding knights; the game accommodates your decision. You are also allowed to select an image avatar for each of your heroes (whether it fits their class or not is up to you). That having been said, classes make relatively little difference in your characters' long-term potential, as every character can learn every spell and ability regardless of their class. The way this works is that requirements to wield spells are determined by the stats and skills that you develop for a character - meaning that you can choose to make your units as specialized or balanced as you please. Fan of sword-wielding battle mages who can heal their team in a pinch? Not a problem. Want to throw in a super-defensive tank that will soak up damage and demand enemies' attention? Easy. Escape From the Pit allows for such customization without over complication. A downside to this is the risk that characters will become a little generic, but the multitude of customizable aspects (stats, skills, spells, and "traits", which function as passive boosts to a character's stats or abilities) help to ensure each of your units is a unique personality.

The only real fault that I can find with Escape From the Pit is the lack of multiplayer adventuring. There is no multiplayer feature available, whether local or online. If some form of co-operative play were incorporated into the game in conjunction with an easy-to-use campaign editor (also missing from Escape From the Pit) I could see Avernum becoming a popular world for fans of desktop RPG gaming. Escape From the Pit offers a world of strictly-governed role play and well-balanced formulas, and it's a pity not to appeal fully to such a dedicated demographic.

Overall, Avernum: Escape From the Pit is a solid RPG experience that combines classic style, a compelling story, and generous content to create an indie game that is very much worth your time. If you're looking for a complex single player RPG and value content at the expense of visuals, don't miss this title.

-Josh Waters 






 
 



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