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Hands-onWeekly Special

Mobile Monday: Avernum 6 HD

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Avernum 6 HD is a role-playing game for iPad whose scope goes well beyond your average commuting game. With an engaging story, robust turn based role-playing game mechanics and extensive inventory and loot features, Avernum 6 provides the hours of gameplay gamers would expect from a fantasy role-playing game on a device that you may not.

Written by Patricia

Gameplay

If you’ve played live Dungeons & Dragons with friends back in the day, Avernum 6 provides all the controls and gameplay mechanics necessary to distill the experience down into a computer’s user-interface.

You create a party of four by selecting from among available three races, both genders, a multitude of classes and a few outfits. Then you spend points to individualize your character’s strengths to begin your quest. There’s even an option provided for cheat codes where you can begin with as many skill points you want. It may ruin the challenge but if you find yourself needing to “grind” for experience, it provides a shortcut that makes this a more forgiving mobile experience.

Extensive dialogue trees are available to explore the great depth of the game’s story, but are also easy to finish quickly if you’re more interested in exploring the next dungeon.

The tasks of inventory management and allocating your experience points/skills are simple yet powerful enough to provide great freedom in how items are distributed for use in battle and how your characters develop. You move your characters by pointing to their destination or by utilizing the minimap to point to areas off the current screen. This makes movement of the party or the individual characters during combat fairly efficient with Avernum’s touch interface.

Combat mechanics are also analogous to classic D&D mechanics. When enemies are encountered a grid is drawn and and each member of the party can move a defined number of spaces determined by their stats and take an action. The player has the freedom to make quick decisions and attempt a more real-time battle or plan the party’s action far in advance as though playing a game of chess.

Myriad techniques and spells are available as you spend points on your characters.  The graphical implementation can be underwhelming, but you’ll find spells ranging from healing, revival, elemental attacks and summoning spells and physical attacks including berserker rage, mighty blow and shield breaker. Such skills offer some flexibility to the individual battles and replayability to the game when starting new characters or spending points differently.

Lastly, In a mobile game where it’s important to be able to put your game down at any point, the fact that Avernum 6 HD provides six save slots, the game can be resumed at any point (except during combat) and the game resumes seamlessly when switching between apps on the iPad are all excellent features.

Strengths & Weaknesses

Avernum’s main strengths are the nostalgic role playing format and the great depth and detail given to the story, the dialogue throughout the game, the character statistics and the leveling system that allows for very unique characters. The main weaknesses include the old graphics, the touch interface and the gaming experience requiring larger, dedicated blocks of time than most tablet games.

The strengths and weaknesses are somewhat symmetric such that for those gamers who enjoy the nostalgic feel of the game, the graphics will likely enhance the enjoyment or at least not detract from the experience. But for other gamers, who want a tablet game that breaks down more easily into very brief sessions suitable for gaming on the go or don’t have prior experience with role playing mechanics such as these, the detail and depth will make Avernum 6 a difficult game to get attached to and enjoy.

Independent upon your gaming style, however, the touch interface can be imprecise and takes time to get used to. Avernum 6 was originally designed for use with a mouse and the touch interface reminds the user of this because it is very easy to “click” in the wrong place. Generally, this is easily ignored, but can cause frustration in a combat where every character step is counted and can result in missed opportunities.

Bottom Line

Avernum 6 HD is a large experience on a tablet platform. It can be played at the user’s speed but requires a larger commitment in time than is commonly found on a tablet. Players who want a deep experience, enjoy the fantasy genre and classic mechanics, can overlook a little user interface hiccups and minimal graphics and want some extended time gaming on their tablet, will find much to like in Avernum 6. However, if you’re a player who plays in fifteen minute increments throughout a day, Avernum 6 is going to be a bit intimidating.

Avernum 6 HD is available on the App Store for iPad at 5.99 Euro /4.99 GBP / 6.99 US Dollar.

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