I have nearly 500 games in my Steam account, and the vast majority of them are still unplayed. So now I'm dedicating an hour to each of these games and writing a series of One Hour Reviews. An hour isn't very long to judge a game on, so think of this as more of a first impression, and take this review in the spirit in which it's given. Be sure to read other reviews from players who have spent more time in the game.
One Hour Reviews - Game 15
Purchase Date: 3/14/2015
I got this game for free thanks to a promotion from Bundle Stars. I'm grateful I didn't have to pay anything for this, because this means the only thing I wasted was an hour of my life.
I'll start with the few things that I didn't hate about this game. The graphics were a little dated, but not bad. Avencast provides some level of customization options which cover the basic configuration options, along with a handful of more advanced options.
The opening of the game begins with a nifty cutscene explaning the story. I liked the art style used in the opening sequence. The game explains how you are a young boy with an aptitude for magic, who is raised by an old mage before being sent to the Academy of Avencast to continue his studies.
After the cutscene ends, the game begins inside of a classroom, and it turns out the boy is kind of a dumbass who is sleeping in class and gets scolded at by his teacher before being kicked out of class. So now I get to explore the academy after the game tells me to pick up a staff and head out.
As I explore I meet a few of the other instructors, whose personalities seem to either be 'bumbling' or '♥♥♥♥♥♥♥'. I'm quickly piled up with various little quests, mostly involving killing little critters.
The voice acting wasn't terrible, but it wasn't very good either. But something was really odd in the way the voices were recorded. It's like the developers were trying to add some kind of echo effect, which I'm guessing was supposed to emulate what a voice would sound like in the halls of a castle. It just sounded off to me.
I soon was introduced to my first bit of combat. It's become clear to me very quickly that this game wants to focus on the combat, and not so much the story. Maybe that comes later. But for now I am busy fighting imps. The combat is really basic to start with, and involves 2 things. The right mouse button shoots purple orbs, until you run out of mana. The left mouse button swings the staff. So basically combat strategy involves dodging attacks by double-tapping movement keys, while using either of these 2 types of attacks to take out enemies.
Once you level up, you do get the oppportunity to spend skill points to get new spells. One annoyance about the level up process is there is no 'commit' after spending your points. I ended up spending all of my points on attributes before realizing I had to spend these same points to get spells as well. Unfortunately the points are instantly spent so there's no take-backsies, unless you want to reload the game.
I would have probably found these annoyances a little easier to deal with, except for one problem. I absolutely hated the control scheme in this game. If your game has multiple control schemes, and one of them is named "Expert Controls", it most likely means you're doing it wrong. There was absolutely no need for the controls to be this cumbersome.
You have 3 choices of control schemes, Easy Control, Expert Control, and Follow camera. I found easy control and follow camera to be fairly similar. In these modes, the camera stays pinned to your back. Moving the mouse will then move the camera as your character turns. But the problem with this control mode is that the mouse pointer stays pinned to the center of the screen. So if you need to hit the icons on the left of the screen to bring up your inventory, you have to hold down the middle mouse button.
Expert control is even worse. In this mode, the mouse moves the mouse pointer without the character turning. To move the camera, the middle mouse button has to be used. This doesn't sound bad, but in combat, it's very trying to coordinate pointing the camera while trying to independently move your character. In the end I wished they had just made this a first person game, or looked to some other game for some better ideas on controls.
The best way to sum up Avencast is to imagine taking the world of Harry Potter, then stripping out any trace of it's charm and warmth. Then add a bunch of uninspired characters giving out boring quests, along with a bunch of combat, a few puzzles, and top that all off with a control scheme that serves as a far bigger villian than the actual bad guys.
Even for free I couldn't recommend this.