Avernum: Escape From the Pit
(Read on for the full review!)
Spiderweb Software, creator of the "Exile" series took the PC RPG template of the time and ran with it, allowing players to control multiple party members and customize their growth, exploring a vast underground world with a surprisingly intricate story. Avernum: Escape From the Pit is essentially a remake of the original Exile game of the same name. Escape From the Pit has been given a graphical overhaul, utilizing the isometric view used in the Avernum games released most recently by Spiderweb Software. The remake changes more than just the graphics, however, and the result is a game that is both the same and quite different from the original.
+ Old School style CRPG with plenty of replay value.
+ Game-play: Explore the open world as you please and do it at your own pace.
+ Really good lore for the game world
+ A ton of sights to see!
+ Engaging story
- The UI is clunky and the character sheet & Inventory is annoying at times!
+/- Doesn't hold your hand at all. (This is a good thing to me)
The Avernum series is based in Avernum, a subterranean nation far under the surface of the world. The surface is ruled by the Empire, a single, monolithic power under the command of the cruel Emperor Hawthorne.
Everyone on the surface who speaks out, rebels, or doesn’t fit in is sentenced to life imprisonment in Avernum. Prisoners are expected to die, the victim of starvation, horrible monsters, or simple despair.
The Avernum series tells the tale of the Avernites' struggle to survive, avenge themselves upon the Empire, and win both freedom and a return to the surface world.
Avernum: Escape from the Pit is a single-player role-playing video game. The player controls a group of up to four adventurers, who can use melee weapons, missile weapons, magic, or a mix of these skills to defeat opponents.
One of the better aspects of this game is the opportunity to customize your adventuring party. Whether you want to have a balanced group featuring every type of character or whether you instead choose to enter battle with an entire team of tanky sword-wielding knights; the game accommodates your decision. You are also allowed to select an image avatar for each of your heroes (whether it fits their class or not is up to you). That having been said, classes make relatively little difference in your characters' long-term potential, as every character can learn every spell and ability regardless of their class. The way this works is that requirements to wield spells are determined by the stats and skills that you develop for a character - meaning that you can choose to make your units as specialized or balanced as you please. Fan of sword-wielding battle mages who can heal their team in a pinch? Not a problem. Want to throw in a super-defensive tank that will soak up damage and demand enemies' attention? Easy. Escape From the Pit allows for such customization without over complication. A downside to this is the risk that characters will become a little generic, but the multitude of customizable aspects (stats, skills, spells, and "traits", which function as passive boosts to a character's stats or abilities) help to ensure each of your units is a unique personality.
Escape From the Pit offers several difficulty levels, as well as the ability to adjust the difficulty at any time during your game. This might come in handy depending on how quickly you want to beat Escape From the Pit, because often you will find that enemies are just too difficult and you need to go grind somewhere else before advancing to where you want to go. Yes, Escape From the Pit does involve a lot of grinding in dungeons, but Spiderweb Software has done a great job making this experience far less tedious, with diverse and well-designed environments that often use interesting tricks to create light puzzle elements. The world of Avernum is by no means boring and progressing through the game is both fun and challenging.
All things said, it seems there's a lot beneath the surface here, with plenty of things to see and do that will keep you adventuring for many hours.
If you're looking for up-to-date, modern graphics, you might as well stop reading now. Avernum utilizes 2D graphics in an isometric view, reminiscent of the original Diablo. Obviously this makes the whole thing look quite dated. If you aren't immediately turned off by that, then let me assure you that you will probably love this game. Noticeably improved even over those of the most recent Avernum titles are the character portraits, which are in fact quite beautiful. Otherwise, the graphics are essentially identical to those of recent Avernum titles, reflecting Spiderweb's low priority on steady advancement in that area. This is something important to know because Escape From the Pit is a game that will polarize RPG players depending on how important visuals are to them.
Overall, Avernum: Escape From the Pit is a solid RPG experience that combines classic style, a compelling story, and generous content to create an indie game that is very much worth your time. If you're looking for a complex single player RPG and value content at the expense of visuals, don't miss this title.