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Avatar Legends VVG Indie Verse #XBLIG Review

VVG Indie Verse Review

“Avatar Legends”

By: Mr. Deeke

On this iteration of VVG’s Indie Verse Reviews we’ll be taking a look at a fantastic Xbox Indie RPG that VVGtv had taken notice of when it was still in development called Avatar Legends. This impressive Xbox Live Indie Game was created by the XNA dev team Barkers Crest, and the game itself is an epic RPG adventure set in an open-world environment with quite enhanced graphics.

Gameplay features include familiar elements from RPG’s such as full-action combat (as opposed to turn-based), a myriad of weapons and items, and a robust questline with a main story arc and many sidequests.

Avatar Legends 240 MSP

This Xbox Indie RPG is one of the best-looking XBLIG’s that have been published on the marketplace, especially in the RPG Genre. The graphics are amazing and very enhanced for an Xbox Indie release, offering a robust open world environment for gamers to explore and enjoy. The online multiplayer feature allows gamers to play together in an integrated online experience that’s only found in one other XBLIG title–Avatar Adventurers Online.

Avatar Legends

  • Developer – Barkers Crest
  • Genre – Role Playing
  • XBL Marketplace URLAvatar Legends
  • Release Date – 5/26/2011
  • Try or Buy? –  Buy
  • Price – 240 MSP ($3)
  • Rating – 5/5

“Slay monsters and cast spells with your Avatar! Create and share worlds over Xbox LIVE with the RPG Builder. Features: 10+ hour adventure, 6 player LIVE multiplayer, unlockable titles, global highscores, multiplayer map builder and sharing, and much more! Save the world with your Avatar today! Avatar Legends is for gamers of all ages and skill levels. Limited Time only 240msp.

–Xbox Live Marketplace Description

I. Story Line

Avatar Legends’ story arc is progressive and unfolds as players complete quests and move on to other locations across the world. With a quite expansive environment gamers take part in an epic medieval adventure set in the archetypal Hero’s Journey, and are led on a story arc that branches into many paths that flourish as players progress through the quest-line.

Every character and NPC has been transported to this medieval world, trapped and forced to live out an existence within the borders of the realm. The inhabitants can sense the terrifying dark presence from afar, and it is this evil entity that is believed to be responsible for trapping the denizens against their will. Players must dispatch the baleful evil from the land and restore them to their rightful worlds.

Players start off in a well-defined woodland area and after opening a mysterious chest in an animation that’s so akin to Zelda 64 that it’s uncanny. Within the chest is a wooden sword, and a nearby NPC proclaims the player as “The One”, a classic story mechanic used to define the Hero in the story.

Our Hero moves on to Hub Town, then onto greater quests and foes to be slain in battle. Friends can join in on co-operative online play, completing an expansive questline with a dynamic and unique dialogue system allowing gamers to choose their own responses to NPC’s while in conversation. Players will move on to other areas with quests, NPC avatars, weathered regions like forests and sandy beaches, and of course bigger and stronger enemies like the fiendish Orcs and bosses like the infamous fish-eating Aqua Yeti.

Image from Avatar Legends

II. Game Mechanics

The RPG Elements in Avatar Legends are multitudinous and many: there are attributes, Level-Ups , magical spells, HP Mana & Stamina as well as a 10 hour + quest line. These elements won’t be anything new to veterans of RPG titles. The traditional aspects of health (HP) and mana are found in this game, and Stamina is used every time a player attacks in combat. An XP threshold is maintained and players level-up once they gain an adequate amount of XP from slaying monsters in combat. Evey level-up gives 10 stat points to distribute in the many attributes:

  • Strength – Increases Melee Attack Damage.
  • Stamina – Increases Stamina Regeneration Rate.
  • Endurance – Reduces Damage Received From Enemy Attacks.
  • Intelligence – Increases Magic Attack Damage.
  • Wisdom – Increases Magic Regeneration Rate
  • Speech – Increases Dialogue Options

These attributes all affect gameplay dynamically in their own way, and most affect combat scenarios except Speech, which presents rare and unique Dialogue choices. This mechanic is quite interesting and favorable, as players can often convince NPC’s for greater rewards and sometimes even pick up special sidequests. Each attribute, or statistic (stat) should be modeled around a player’s specific class or role in combat. Since this game has multiplayer, players can customize their characters to fit a certain role–such as a Tank or Mage.

The controls in this game aren’t complicated and are fluid, yet the camera angles may take a bit to get acclimated with as the game uses a third-person view–yet this can be fixed by going to the Main Menu by hitting Start and going to Settings, changing the X and Y Axes to “Normal” instead of “Inverted”. Another useful aspect of the game is that players can Save or Load their progress at any time throughout the game.

The left analog stick controls movement whereas the right stick controls camera angles, pressing B brings up the Sub-Menu where players can see their Inventory, Fast Travel to other areas, and  check Stats. For Combat controls X is melee attack whereas Y is the magical spell attack. Players must have a spell and a weapon equipped to do either.

It’s also possible to do a Charge Attack by holding down LT and X (for a melee attack) or Y (for a spell attack). These Charge Attacks significantly drain either Stamina for melee attacks or Mana for spell attacks, however they are useful because they do more damage in combat. Also, players can press up on the D-Pad to use healing items like food and potions. There are also multiple difficulties in the game, and when players start a new game they get to choose from Easy, Normal, Hard, and Insane.

Image from Avatar Legends

Quests are arranged in a specific tab on the Sub-Menu (which is accessible by pressing B), and this pane shows both the currently Active and Completed Quests with all of the parameters for completing the quest. The quests themselves aren’t very hard most of the time and often require players to retrieve items or attack enemies, and there are many sidequests that don’t involve the story line. The main story arc is slowish, yet it involves players traveling the lands, helping townsfolk and NPC’s found at random throughout the world.

Navigating throughout this medieval adventure can be quite confusing at times, yet the map featured in the Sub Menu makes for easy navigation and allows players to plan their next move. Another convenient feature that this game offers is Fast Travel, making it akin to retail RPG titles.

Players can Fast Travel only to previously visited locations, and this makes it much easier for weaker spellcasting characters to navigate the lands. Also players can mark their “Favorite Maps” under the Travel tab, allowing them to sort important towns or areas in a seperate easy-to-find list–this level of convenience is unexpected in an Xbox Indie RPG.

The live-action combat also deserves a mention as it makes up for the bulk of the game. While at first it can be frustrating, players must make good use of both evasive and offensive measures while in combat, since most of the time the player is overwhelmed with multiple enemies. It’s important to also use magic spells in tandem with melee strikes–using Fire on an enemy will usually stun them, making it an opportune moment for melee strikes.

The Charge Strikes are particularly useful when an enemy is stunned by magic, and it is done by holding down LT and X, releasing when the bar is full. Sometimes players will have to flee, and Fast Travel can’t be used when enemies are around. Players can run far enough away, however, to make the enemies disappear and un-spawn.

Multiplayer combat with other players over Xbox Live is much more convenient and easy, making it an quite enjoyable social gaming experience for all players. Even with one other player the game becomes much easier and is more dynamic. Players can interact with one another in party chat while playing multiplayer.

Image from Avatar Legends

III. Weapons/Items

A medieval action-RPG wouldn’t be an adventure without an array of weapons and items to use whilst in combat. Throughout the game players will find multiple items, yet there are only three different classes of item to be purchased from the Weapons Dealer: Weapons, Shields, and Healing items. There are varying degrees of weapons such as swords and axes, each with their own strengths whose prices affect their combat usefulness.

Throughout the game players will also find quest items–these are also called World Items and can’t be dropped. It’s important to have a healthy supply of healing items–different grades of breads–but if all else fails simply visit a Doctor at a nearby town to be healed. Players can only carry a maximum of five healing items at any given time, so it’s good to have at least one higher level food item like Homemade Bread and a few lesser food items.

IV. Unique Features

Avatar Legends’ Online Co-Op function brings a whole new level of online gaming to Xbox Indie RPG’s. This addition was only ever seen in Avatar Adventurers Online, which allows gamers to play with other players across their region. Party up with players across the country and communicate instantly through party chat–take down hordes of enemy monsters and complete dozens of quests in this open-world multiplayer RPG adventure.

The incredible graphics that Avatar Legends possesses is also a unique feature–it’s arguably better or just as good as some Xbox Live Arcade and retail Xbox titles. Whether you’re marveling at the dynamic environments or watching the sun fall down and the moon rise in all it’s lunar splendor, the game’s graphics are quite impressive and are an outstanding feature that has caught the eye of many gamers on Xbox Live.

Multiple dialogue choices bring a sense of a “choose your own path” type adventure, and mostly the dialogue options are trivial unless affected by a high Speech skill, which can change quests and offer higher rewards. This dynamic is similar to retail RPG’s and veterans of these games will find this an enjoyable and amusing feature to the game that adds substance as well as humor.

The customizable Adventure Editor is a massive tool added to allow gamers basically to build their own game utilizing the parameters within the editor itself. The editor is quite robust and has many features–from modifying terrain like hills, crests and valleys to creating rivers and ponds, all the way to building quests, the editor is a unique feature that adds a potentially never-ending gaming experience. Players can also share their created customized adventures with other players.

Image from Avatar Legends

Day and night visuals create the sense of passing time and are dynamic in that the sun will always fall and the moon will always rise. Depending on the location players can expect small variations in the day and night skies. These impressive visuals only go to accentuate the amazing graphics, and this game surely is one of the best Xbox Indie titles in terms of it’s graphic visual content.

This Xbox Indie also contains Awardments, or achievement-like unlockables that don’t really add anything to the game other than a small sense of prestige. Awardments are usually unlocked when completing quests, and they are scattered and randomized–all the way from sidequests to the main questline these awardments pop from achieving different objectives.

V. Critique

The Good

Amazing Graphics for an Xbox Indie Game. This Xbox Indie RPG is most known for it’s incredible graphics, mirroring a new level of quality from XBLIG releases. The game is so impressive that it reflects the Xbox 360’s true capabilities, and for an XNA created game, it’s easily one of the best in terms of graphics. Take the Sandy Beach region at sunset, for example: this view is sure to enrapture any gamer out there, and time also brings duskfall and sunrise, and there are many different regions such as forests, beaches, and cold winterlands.

Expansive RPG Elements and Quest-Lines. As an interactive online Xbox Indie RPG, this game retains many of the classic and traditional elements gamers would expect to find in any role-playing game. The title makes use of action-based combat with spells and melee attacks, an interactive menu system sorting quests, items, and a fully dynamic map. The questline itself unfolds the main story arc and is supplemented with many side-quests that offer meager rewards like Gold and XP.

Six-Player Online Co-op on Xbox Live. Playing this expansive RPG with five other players pretty much ensures victory, especially if each player’s character is different and has a specific role in battle. As long as the characters themselves are solidly built with decent gear and defined attributes, questing and boss-battles shouldn’t be difficult. This social online gaming experience isn’t usually found in an XBLIG title, and many gamers have played (and still are playing) Avatar Legends online with their friends.

10+ Hours of Gameplay. This feature really speaks for itself: this game can last quite a while, and with the online multiplayer and Adventure Editor players have a virtual un-ending role-playing experience in their hands. It’s easy to lose yourself in the incredible graphics and to watch the sun fall into the earth to reveal the celestial skies above, or to explore the world as it unfolds under the player’s feet. The quests and story allow for an immersive and flexibly-paced gaming experience as players can take their time with sidequests or rush through the main story.

Convenience of Fast-Travel. Avatar Legends has a few convenient features that afford gamers with a sense of expedience and efficiency, the main one being Fast Travel. This feature is used in a few retail Xbox 360 releases, and is seldom found in Xbox Indie RPG’s. Fast Travel allows gamers to retrace their steps without having to physically do so–a teleportation system that has it’s limits: players can only travel to previously visited locations and can’t travel when enemies are nearby or in combat.

The Bad

Difficult Singleplayer Battles. Starting out from the beginning with the Wooden Shield and Sword can be a bit harsh on players, especially if they mis-appropriate their stat points earned from level-ups. At the beginning its easy to get overwhelmed by multiple enemies and have difficulty in combat, causing the player to get frustrated. It’s important to set your attribute points correctly and to know at the start what kind of character you’d like to have. When playing with others through multiplayer, the severity is lessened and player’s strife is eased through online co-op gameplay.

Long Loading Times. In an XBLIG that’s so big it’s inevitable that there are somewhat long loading times. The loading screen lasts for a bit, and players must sit through a loading screen whenever they cross over to a new boundary or load their game. This isn’t a huge negativity, but some players may be turned off by the epicness of the entire game, including the loading times.

VI. Wrap-Up

Overall Avatar Legends is an outstanding Xbox Indie RPG release containing unique features, traditional role-playing game elements, and incredible graphics and environments that compliment gameplay quite nicely. With a robust quest-line and story arc that unfolds as players progress, gamers can experience a solid and quite immersing adventure alone in singleplayer or online with friends on Xbox Live. This gem of an Xbox Live Indie Game is surely to be one of the best titles on the market today, especially in the RPG genre.

For more information on Avatar Legends and the independent XNA game studio that developed it, Barkers Crest, please visit their website or Follow them on Twitter for instant updates.

Sketpical? Want to try out Avatar Legends out for yourself? Click below to download the Free Demo:

Avatar Legends


One response

  1. Matt

    Nice to see a proper review of this game. The Adventure Builder could be talked about more, as it’s a truly brilliant feature, but apart from that, I pretty much agree with you.

    June 6, 2011 at 5:32 am

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