Avadon 2: The Corruption is a lot like Avadon 1. Much in the same way most Spiderweb Software titles are very similar to other Spiderweb titles. You’ll be fighting the exact same enemies (in appearance and action) you’ve fought before, exploring areas that you’ve seen and explored before, and opening chests you’ve seen before filled with items you’ve seen before. Spiderweb software doesn’t update its vault of art and sound assets very often. Even though it puts out new RPGs with relative frequency, the content inside those games remains largely the same. There’s a new story here in Avadon 2 (presented in the Spiderweb’s massive wall of text style) but the classes, monsters, items, and objects are all as stale as a medieval biscuit. Apart from new loading screens, a singular new class, and a slightly different story there’s nothing to differentiate Avadon 1 from 2. That may be good enough for some but it certainly won’t be converting any one already sick of the stodgy Spiderweb formula.
It’s a shame there’s so much staleness here, because Spiderweb clearly knows how to make a decent party based isometric RPG. Which isn’t a surprise because that’s their thing, RPGs are all they make. Avadon 2 is a much better RPG than the flashier, trendier Shadowrun Returns. Shadowrun suffered from extremely linear map and character development design coupled with a microscopic length that made the whole game feel half baked. Avadon 2 on the other hand has massive maps (both dungeons and outdoors), interesting character development trees, and a daunting amount of content to journey through. The only problem is I’ve already spent 30 hours journeying through this content in the first Avadon game. The skills and abilities your characters will be using are the same (or look so similar that I can’t tell the difference) and to make things worse these are the same skills and abilities used in other Spiderweb games. You will be fighting the same monsters which are all lifted from other Spiderweb games, in the same boring repetitive fights. Arguably the original Avadon was padded with far too many mindless, trivial fights. To ask players to do it all again a second time around and enjoy it is just unreasonable.
Another annoying thing the game does (that’s rather prevalent in all Spiderweb Games) is constantly trying to paint the illusion that dialogue choices are of consequence. I’m sure, some where along the line, some of the dialogue choices affect something in the story. Unfortunately there is an unrelenting torrent of dialogue choices that result in people attacking you regardless of your response; it gets very old, very quick. The amount of times something approaches you and you’re given the choice of a) evil response, b) neutral response or c) Good response and each ends with the thing attacking you is ridiculous. If something is going to attack me, just let it happen. Don’t waste my time with more artificial padding in a game already exploding with it. Do I really need to have the satisfaction of role playing the appropriate responses my character would give, but have it bear absolutely no consequence to the game world? Either make dialogue choices ACTUAL choices with consequence, or get rid of them. I could be wrong and every single sassy thing I say to an enemy is being recorded in some moral compass bank but if this is the case then there needs to be a clear feedback to the player, because as it operates currently it’s nothing more than an easily dispelled illusion of choice.
Speaking of dialogue and padding, the signature Spiderweb verbosity is out on parade in Avadon 2. You will be bombarded with big walls of text early and often. I’ve decided this a bad thing. Before, when I played Spiderweb games I was convinced this was a sign of a deep story and of a well thought out game world. Now, that opinion has changed. The text is unnecessary and ungainly. Rather than helping paint the story and the game world, it gets in the way. When a monster appears, rather than letting the player see, hear and interact with the it, the player is given a yawn inducing essay on the thing. Blocks of text pop up when you enter a new area. I don’t need an 400 word description of a cave, I know what a cave looks like. Either write a text adventure, or let the graphics do their job. Sparse details would make the world more mysterious and compelling, rather than the glut of words dumped on you at every opportunity. 16-bit Final Fantasy games crammed a lot of emotion in to a simple ” . . . ” and I feel Spiderweb would benefit from some lessons in 16-bit badly translated brevity.
Now it’s not all bad. If you’re after a big dumb RPG, Avadon 2 will keep you entertained for some time (particularly if you enjoy reading). I was impressed with the vastness of the maps, inside and out. After the claustrophobic Shadowrun Returns, the amount of open exploration in Avadon 2 is impressive. There’s plenty of side quests to do so you’ll never feel overly railroaded. There is a singular new class, the Tinkermage, which I did have fun with. It’s a trap laying class who throws ninja stars. Though even this new class was an amalgamation of other skills I had seen before. The fundamental things that make RPG’s fun and rewarding (leveling up, finding loot, killing things) are all here and done competently. But that’s all there is to it. There’s nothing compelling about the game, and it’s largely and problematically repetitive and bland. Avadon 2 is like a gigantic serving of macaroni and cheese, it does exactly what it’s meant to but is bereft of pizzazz and excitement. Next time Spiderweb, give me some variety, and go easy on the text. Avadon 2: The Corruption is getting 2 out of 5 doom forts.