Friday, December 03, 2010

Faery - Legends of Avalon (2010) Focus Home Interactive

So it's that time of year when I've played through most of the games I wanted to play and start digging through the catalog of XBOX Live games and DLCs.  Last night I was wading through demos, some good, some not so good but I stumbled across Faery - Legends of Avalon from Parisian indie designer Focus Home Interactive.  I downloaded the demo and I have to admit that I am kind of charmed and impressed at this little release.  It's a well done classic turn based RPG with a 3 member party system, elemental magic, minimal inventory management, and a "get to the root of the problem" story arc filled with step'n'fetch and puzzle quests along the way.  It's not ground-breaking and it's probably not going to wow a lot of fans of shit that blows up or fans of jabbing plastic instruments with their pudge paws but for fans of classic non-JRPG styled games it certainly fits the bill.

The basic premise is Avalon, ruled by Oberon, is fading as modern man forgets and disrespects the magic of the Old Ways.  The player character is awoken from stasis within a crystal to find out if there is anyway to salvage the realm.  The adventure begins.

Four things really work for me while I've been playing Faery:

  1. The art design is brilliant from NPC to level to monsters.  There's a very clever and understated Brian Froud-esque quality to the characters - vaguely menacing and ugly though, in some cases amusingly adorable.  My favorite character so far is Grim who looks like a cross between the Artful Dodger and Jacob Marley.  
  2. This is one of the rare games that I would let children play but I would enjoy playing with them.  Hell I think the text based speech would be fun to read out loud to a kid, especially since each character has their own style of dialogue.
  3. Though the levels initially seem small the ability to fly from the beginning of the game creates an excellent illusion of scale.  The second level (based around Ygdrassil) was a lot of fun simply because of  zooming through the leaves and branches of the tree exploring.  I am currently on the Flying Dutchman but have yet to explore it.
  4. Just because this might be a game I approve for children doesn't mean it's for slack jawed troglodytes.  In fact many of the jokes are only funny if you know anything about mythology and folk tales (no Greco-Roman bullshit either) or 16th-Century French literature (okay I had to wiki one joke in the game to understand it, I think it's a funny joke - now that I get it - but you won't).  It's nice to play something that intellectually amuses as well.
I expect the game to top out at maybe 12-14 hours of gameplay but for the low price point I'm over-joyed at the experience.  Faery is like a meal at a fancy French restaurant.  You may be disappointed by the tiny portions at first but the meal is so delicious and filling and satisfying.

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