The word 'average' has never fitted so perfectly as it does in this case. Faery: Legends of Avalon, available to download from both Xbox Live Arcade and PlayStation Network, is perhaps the most average RPG - nay, video game - we've ever played. Everything it does is neither bad nor good. It lays down the basics for a great role-playing romp, and then counteracts every potential plus point with dull undertones.
You've got combat that is thoughtful yet tedious, environments that are expansive yet empty, characters that are varied yet lifeless... the list goes on. Faery tries to break the mould on various occasions, only to fit right back into the plaster cast again. What we're left with is a bog-standard exploration experience that you won't hate, but you sure as hell won't recommend to your friends either.
Good guy? Bad guy? Does it really matter?
Faery: Legends of Avalon follows the story of a mythical world in peril. The human race has stopped believing in faeries, and the power of magic has begun to fail, leaving the future of the faeries in jeopardy. The faery king needs helping with restoring the faith, and brings the hero out of stasis to aid his efforts. You are tasked with gathering together a couple of team-mates, then setting out to save the world from destruction.
The game brings exciting prospects, with large worlds to buzz around. Thanks to your faery wings, you can zip through the sky, moving between points quickly with a great sense of speed and freedom. The controls can feel a little awkward at times, but holding down the left-stick to enable fast movement feels great.
Gameplay switches between exploration progression and turn-based combat. Most of the time you'll be darting around, questioning the locals and finding clues to your next recommended location. Then it's off into caves and dungeons to hammer the enemy home, with a clever attack system. Each character can perform a specific number of moves each turn, depending on how many action points they have and how many points each move uses.
It means that, rather than performing a single move each turn, you can mix it up, perhaps healing yourself a little before going for the lunge. Different attacks are better or worse against specific enemy types too, so experimenting with the combinations can be great fun. Worth noting, however, is that the combinations sometimes make no sense whatsoever - apparently using a lighting attack on a water enemy isn't very effective!
The Flying Dutchman makes an appearance, as do plenty of dragons
Customization options are pretty slick too. As characters level up, they experience 'metamorphosis' on different parts of their body. These adjustments not only alter the special moves and stats of a character, but also what they look like too. Along with the various armour and clothing that the heroes can wear, the options available for changing how your party looks are pretty well covered.
Faery has some lovingly crafted foundations down for sure, but the structure built on top isn't so stable. The production values throughout are quite hideous, from bland interfaces and textures to the frequently spelling mistakes in the dialogue. There is nothing technically impressive on show at any point, leading to extremely dull progression.
The action attempts to fool you into believing you have options, choices, and different pathways to go down, but in reality it all amounts to the same linear path. You're frequently given good and bad dialogue options that will make other characters either love or hate you, but the difference between the two goes as far as whether or not they'll give you special items as a thank you.
At one point, we stole a horn from a fisherman rather than helping him out. After summoning a mermaid, she asked us how we'd got the horn, and we confessed that it was stolen. She replied that, while she did not condone our thievery, she'd help us anyway. Hence, no matter which way we'd got to this point, she would have helped us out - so what is the point of the branching karma plots?
A wide-stretching cast of characters that you will quickly forget about after the game is over
What it all boils down to is that Faery: Legends of Avalon is not very exciting at all. We still found ourselves slightly compelled to play through to the end, as the different worlds are enjoyable to explore, but for the most part the action is unimaginative and bland. We don't feel that it was worth experiencing, yet at the same time we don't feel like it was a waste of time.
FAERY: LEGENDS OF AVALON VERDICT
How utterly average-sounding can you get, huh? With a little sprucing up, perhaps some voice-acting and some real, game-changing decisions to make, Faery: Legends of Avalon could have been a hidden gem. Instead, it’s the kind of RPG that developers try their best not to create.