Now that I’m settling into my new home, I want to start taking this site’s remit a lot more seriously. I renamed it “2 Dimensions” a couple of months ago with the intent of properly canonizing two-dimensional games and graphics (and those which uphold that spirit), but then everything went all topsy-turvy. But let’s begin here and now by celebrating the best 2D game of October 2013: Spiderweb’s Avadon 2: The Corruption.
Avadon kind of gets the nod this month by default, because I can’t really think of any other 2D games of note. The closest anything has really come has been Batman: Arkham Origins: Blackgate, which tries to make the Arkham games into a 2D exploratory/adventure/brawler kind of thing. It’s sort of weird, and it almost works… but not quite. Avadon, on the other hand, sticks with known quantities and excels on its own modest terms.
It’s also running at too high a resolution for me to be able to show an entire screenshot in this blog format without compressing everything all to hell. So please enjoy a little screen chunklet.
Avadon runs on the same fundamental tech that Spiderweb’s games have been using for ages, and it looks like it tumbled out of about 1998. If someone said, “Hey, check out my cool Baldur’s Gate mod,” I’d believe ’em! But Avadon has a much different feel than Baldur’s Gate or other D&D-based title, eschewing the stylings of that franchise in favor of an approach that — like its visual style — is far more modest. Players can pick from five different character classes with a fairly limited array of skills, and a party sort of assembles over the course of the quest like iron filings drawn to the player’s magnet.
The appeal of the game doesn’t come from its visuals or the depth of skill trees, but rather from the writing and free-form style. Avadon isn’t quite as open a game as its sibling Avernum, but you accumulate tons of quests and options as you advance through the story, and there are apparently some pretty big choices down the line. Spiderweb ringleader Jeff Vogel blogs pretty frequently about narrative in big-budget games — the good and the bad — and it’s pretty clear that he puts his observations into action with his work.
Avadon is role-playing of a classic vintage, heavy on text but not too slow on action — even if it doesn’t look terribly modern, Avadon adopts a very contemporary form of no-nonsense efficiency with its play. Anyway, it’s out in two days, and it’s cheap, so you should download it.