Avencast puts you in the shoes of a student at the University of Avencast, the greatest of the Mage training centers in the world. You were raised by an old mage and have great natural talent, but seem to get bored easily, which does not help you in the eyes of your professors. After getting thrown out of a class, your mentor gives you a series of tasks around the school. In addition to these there are a number of side-quests you can complete. All of these culminate with the player character descending into crystal caves to retrieve his soul-stone; a crystal that will grant him even greater power. But when he returns from the bowels of the caves with his prize, he finds that the school is under an attack from a great evil, and he must find out why? or perish in the attempt.
Not only does Avencast have an interesting story-line; it keeps itself surprisingly clean. Language is very rare to the point of being non-existent, and none of the in-game instances are gratuitous. Violence is surprisingly tame, blood and gore entirely absent. Enemies simply fall down when defeated (or in the case of certain foes, crumble to dust). We encountered no elements of sexuality, and a controversial message is likewise absent as the game does not venture beyond its own world. Then there is magic. With a subtitle like ?Rise of the Mage? one would certainly expect a great deal of magic to be present. This expectation is assuredly met. It is literally impossible to play through the game without tapping into magic endlessly. From attacks, to items acquired, to the very environments, the game is steeped in magic. If magic is a problem, do not play this game. If magic in fantasy settings does not offend you, then this would be a great title to add to any collection.
Avencast: Rise of the Mage does so many things RIGHT that it feels almost low to point out the flaws. The greatest flaw from an RPG standpoint is the great lack of character customization. Another mark is that graphics are a bit low-grade by today?s market standards, but not so much that the game looks bad. The combat system is wonderfully executed, and although it can be rather difficult to time combos properly, this is not that great of a problem. The myriad of spells and items the player is able to acquire is a welcome addition, each spell school containing literally dozens of spells. The camera control can be slightly confusing, as the game offers three different modes to use, but just select chase mode and everything works fine. One great thing that Avencast has going for it is how long the campaign is, which, in an RPG, is a necessity that is too often neglected. All in all, if games focused on magic are welcome to you, Avencast would certainly be a title to play.
» By Matthew Turpin, Plain Games. Published 2/27/2008 9:45:13 PM.