Monday, November 9, 2015

Avernum: Escape from the Pit Review

It is no secret that the video gaming industry has a love affair with technology. Back when the first 3D games came out, video games were just all about movement. Flight sims—particularly those with six degrees of freedom games like the Descent series—flourished. Sure, there were games that broke the mold (one of which is the forebear to the Avernum series) but most of these only got a cult following and largely took the backseat. In 1998, Valve’s seminal game, Half-Life, happened. Suddenly, flight sims vanished and the industry jumped into the first-person shooter bandwagon. Fast forward to the second half of the first decade of the 2000s and on-rails shooter focusing on powerful action sequences elevated the FPS industry to new heights. And QTEs. Lots of QTEs.

It was this predictable sine wave of trends that killed my fascination for triple A productions. Companies started getting into projects that were considered to be financially safe—you cannot imagine the number of Call of Duty clones that popped into existence like drab-hued mushrooms after a stormy night. There was no experimentation and aside from the drive to ramp up visual fidelity, no pushing of the envelope. Things started feeling to be run-of-the-mill affairs, cookie cutter products that rolled out the digital assembly lines like virtual minions of doom that conquered the world.

It was a breath of fresh air then that back in 2009 or so, a friend of mine told me about Spiderweb Software and their Avernum series. Intrigued, I pored over their site. Sure enough, the isometric view and the hand drawn sprites intrigued me to no end. For some reason though, I didn’t buy a single one. Which was just as well as recently, the first game in the series floated on my radar as a remake. I figured that with the new engine and revamped graphics it was a good time to jump into what Spiderweb Software was offering.


I never regretted the decision.

Avernum: Escape from the Pit is a turn-based, isometric, role-playing game that may not have impressive visuals but stands up on its own—and then some—on its other aspects.

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