Aveyond: The Darkthrop Prophecy (Bigfishgames.com)

When Mel discovered her magic powers, she hid in the village of Harakauna. Unfortunately, the darklings discover her whereabouts and try to bring her to Underfall. At the same time, a representative of Veldarah Academy wants to recruit her in order to help her train her magic. Will Mel choose the path of light or the path of darkness?

For those of you who haven’t played the game, be warned that there are a few spoilers in this review. I will hand one thing to the Aveyond staff. Instead of giving Mel powers and forgetting about it, like they did with Fox on Gargoyles, they actually make it the plot point. Unfortunately, when they get to the schooling part, they do the same thing they’ve always done. They rush right through it in order to get to the plot rather than combining both story elements. There’s also a scene where trouble happens at Shadwood Academy.

Unfortunately, no one believes Mel when she says that it’s because of her. Mel thinks that Edward would believe her, which is an odd conclusion to come to considering that Edward’s never believed her about anything. Considering how often the crazy stuff she says comes true, you think he’d learn by now. Instead, Edward dismisses her entirely and Mel holds the idiot ball. For those of you who don’t know, the idiot ball is when a character performs an uncharacteristic act of sheer stupidity in order to drive the plot. In this one, Mel gets a note from a stranger telling her to come alone to a cabin and, instead of informing her professors about it, she goes alone to meet the person. Someone who grew up on the streets ought to know better. Though I do appreciate that, when Mel’s in trouble, she tries to find a way out of there instead of waiting for the others to rescue her. For the rest of the game, you take on the role of Stella and I’ve noticed that when she gets an item and has to put it in a slot, she says, “I wonder,” while Mel has to have someone explain to her what to do. Te’ijal and Galahad have returned for the final game and, later on, we get an argument from them that looks like something that came out of Twilight. Oh, and you notice that when Te’ijal’s in control, she only makes decisions that make her happy while when Galahad’s in control, he tries to compromise for both of them? I’m going to give the staff the benefit of the doubt and assume that this is more about the characters than it is an issue of gender. Oh, and remember when Lydia stole the throne from Edward? The Aveyond staff wrapped up that problem as an afterthought rather than making it important to the plot. In the ending, you get to pick a bride for Edward. The canon option makes sense and doesn’t at the same time. When Mel tells Edward there’s trouble, he instantly dismisses her. When Stella tells Edward there’s trouble, he runs off to stop it. On the other hand, Edward has spent the whole game being irritated with Stella and worried nonstop about Mel. Add to that the fact that Edward marrying Mel in The Lost Orb is the canon beginning, it becomes even more baffling that Stella is the canon choice. Considering how many pairings have gone against the fan preference, I wonder if, at this point, the Aveyond staff loves to screw with their fan base.

The game play is, once again, your typical RPG. You travel the world battling monsters to raise your levels.

You can purchase items in towns and talk to NPCs to receive side quests. If you’re having trouble, visit the goodie caves to give yourself an advantage. The only difference this game has is that, not only can Stella learn spells by equipping weapons and leveling up, Edward can power up his sword by using sword stations.

This game is addictive but the plot could use some work. I give it 6 out of 10; a bad conclusion to Aveyond 3.

Aveyond: The Lost Orb (Bigfishgames.com)

Just when Mel thought she’d seen the last of the orbs, a mysterious woman named Nox tells her about the Orb of Death. Now she and her friends must destroy the lost orb before anyone of evil intent can get their hands on it.

The beginning of the game depends entirely on whom you had Edward propose to in the last one. Either way, Lydia tricks Edward into marrying her by locking the intended bride in the dungeon and disguising herself as said bride. While it’s not hard to believe that Lydia would desire the throne, some of her actions don’t match with her personality in the previous game. For instance, in Gates of Night, she tries to save Stella and sees the mission to the end. You can argue that all of this was a ruse to make Edward like her, but Lydia is also an accomplished mage. If she was only after the throne, couldn’t she have just cast a love spell? She can easily buy a love potion and spike Edward’s drink with it. Not to mention that amulet Lydia found in Gates of Night that she uses to make Edward buy her dresses, she could use that to make Edward marry her and become her slave. Speaking of love potions, the game once again romanticizes them. There’s this one scene where you create a love potion and Spook (a recently introduced character) and Edward fight over who gets to use it on Mel. Since I always thought of love potion as a date rape drug, this didn’t sit well with me. Later on, you find out Spook’s intentions, so the game could have easily just had Spook try to use the love potion while Edward tries to stop him. Edward and Spook also act incredibly obnoxious and neither one of them thinks to ask Mel what she wants. Did I mention that Edward will be fighting Spook for Mel’s affections even if you had him marry someone else? Oh, and for future reference, if you ever ask someone about their past and they say that their story will bore you, that’s usually code for “don’t trust me; I’m up to no good.” I’m also wondering why a village that shuts itself off from the rest of the world would have an MME system (mirror transportation) and signs pointing how to get there. Another problem I had was interests and prejudices that seem to come out of nowhere. For those of you who haven’t played the game, there will be spoilers in what I say next. Ulf (the orc traveling with you) wants to stay in Harakauna to become an alchemist. Now I can believe that he’d want to stay in a village full of talking animals and shape shifters that makes him feel welcome, but he has shown as much interest in alchemy beforehand as Lana Lang from Smallville did in art before applying to an art school in Paris, which is absolutely none. At the end of the game, Mel unlocks her magical abilities. Now I can believe that Mel’s abilities remained dormant because she’s had good luck relying on her mind all her life like Fox from Gargoyles. The only difference is that Fox actually demonstrated her intelligence while Mel has to have her hand held every step of the way. Oh, and did you know that Mel hates magic? Neither did I. She’s been around magic users and held them no ill regards and now that she has magic herself, she develops a prejudice for it for no reason whatsoever other than the writer needed to add unnecessary conflict to the story. Other than all that, the plot is actually quite interesting. The new characters are entertaining and I found the insane Empress of Eldrion to be hilarious.

The game play is very addictive. You travel a 2-d map collecting treasure, potion ingredients and fighting monsters.  The last one will help you gain levels to make the characters stronger. You can visit towns to purchase supplies, check your mail and teach Mel a new skill at the town’s agency. In this game, the training actually has something to do with the skill you’re learning. You can also complete side quests in addition with the main quest for 100% completion. During the game, you will have opportunities to either increase Mel’s attraction to Spook or decrease it. If you’re tired of having to move around so much, use the Magical Mirror Express, or MME, to travel between towns faster. You can also stop by hidden goodie caves to make the game easier.

This game is addictive and entertaining. I give it 7 out of 10; the game play makes up for the many problems with the story.

Aveyond: Gates of Night (Amaranthgames.com)

After the wicked witch, Heptitus, stole the first quarter key, Mel and the others regroup at Thais.  Now they need to get what they lost and find a ship to complete their mission.

This game is a continuation of Lord of Twilight.  In my review of that game, I neglected to discuss the plot.  One thing Aveyond fans will appreciate is that Te’ijal and Galahad, two optional fans from the first game, are now a couple of the main characters.  It’s Te’ijal’s brother, Gyendal, who is the main villain and they are the ones that save Mel.  The first game did have a few problems, such as rushing through Mel’s schooling to get to the main plot.  Gyendal also had no true motivation and is only evil for the sake of being evil.  It also has some good points.  Remember in my review of Aveyond 1 when I said that I found Galahad’s noble prejudice annoying?  Well, in this game, he’s miserable as a vampire and feels great anger for his wife, Te’ijal, yet he will still help her in her quest to stop Gyendal’s plan to take over the world.  Speaking of Gyendal, his plan doesn’t make sense to me.  Gyendal is a vampire, like his sister, and wants to rule the Overworld.  The problem is humans are their dinner and it seems like vampires would want them in abundance to quench their thirsts.  If they ruled the overworld, that food source would quickly diminish.  Te’ijal must see this and, like Spike from Buffy the Vampire Slayer, has no desire to lose her endless supply of happy meals.  Galahad, unlike Te’ijal, has no desire to drink from a human and still maintains his appearance from the first game.

As I said earlier, this game is a continuation of Lord of Twilight.  New characters join the group, such as Lydia who hopes to become Prince Edward’s bride.  Speaking of Edward, he has to get married by the end of Gates of Night and can choose between three women, Mel, Stella and Lydia.  If he doesn’t pick any of them, his parents choose for him and let me say that their selection is hilarious but wouldn’t have been the slightest bit funny if the genders were reversed.  In the next game, there will be girls that have no love interest whatsoever but it seems like, in this series, only the guys have options about who to marry while the girls only have one fixed option and this isn’t the first time this has shown up.  In Ahriman’s Prophecy, Devin could choose between Talia and Alicia.  Another problem I have is Lydia’s character.  We see her true motivation for marrying Edward in the next game but Lydia’s actions don’t match up.  For one thing, when she locates an amulet that can hypnotize Edward, she only uses it to buy more dresses for herself.  If the throne was Lydia’s goal, why didn’t she just use the amulet to make Edward propose to her?  In another scene, she saves Stella’s life for no reason that I can comprehend.  There’s also the issue of Mel’s informed ability.  We’re told that she is a clever thief yet, in the first game, Edward has to tell her that he’s the Prince of Thais after many months of her living there and hanging out with him.  The only time we see her being clever is in the Orc Kingdom and the citizens are so incredibly stupid that they could fall for the look behind you trick.  In Venwood, when trying to access the water tower, it’s Lydia who figures out that the controls to activate it are rusted.  Mel’s informed ability is truly highlighted in the fourth game but I’ll talk about that when I get to it.

The game play in this one is exactly the same as the last.  You travel the world to complete the main quest while completing various side quests along the way.  You encounter various monsters that you can fight to make your characters stronger.  In this game, you can finally get a ship and a compass to teleport you straight to your ship’s location.  You can’t join a guild but you can visit each one.  You can also locate various agencies in order to teach Mel new skills, though what she does and the skill she learns doesn’t really match up.  For example, in Venwood she has to catch five butterflies in order to learn the Orc language.  How butterflies and Orcs go together, I have no idea.  You can also collect attraction points between Edward and the girl you want him to marry.  When you have the minimum number of points, you can have Edward propose to the desired girl.  Lydia requires zero, Stella requires four and Mel requires all seven.  As I said earlier, you can purchase gowns for Lydia but only one in each shop.  If you want to buy them all, you’ll have to use the golden amulet.  You can also buy weapons and armor for your characters and purchase spellbooks for Lydia.

This game is addictive but not without problems.  I give it 7 out of 10; a brilliant continuation of Lord of Twilight.

Aveyond 3: Lord of Twilight (Amaranthgames.com)

When Mel is hired to steal an orb, she thinks it’s just going to be an easy job for pay.  If only she knew what she was getting into.

The plot of this one is more like a prologue than an actual chapter.  You get to know the characters, find out the evil plan of the villain and begin collecting items to try to stop him.  There are a few side quests, but you don’t get to complete some of them until the next game.

The game play is the same as the last two with a couple of exceptions.  You can activate a system that allows you to travel through various locations.  You can also level up your characters without having to add them to the active party.  Oh, and when you search the corpse of an enemy after you kill it, it disappears.

This game is short but exciting.  I give it 7 out of 10; a good start to the third game in the series.

Aveyond 2 (Amaranthgames.com)

When a young elf named Iya is captured by the Snow Queen, it’s up to her friend Ean to come to the rescue.  Can they stop the Snow Queen from turning the world into ice?

Despite what it sounds like, rescuing Iya is only the beginning of the game.  Plus, it’s Iya discovering her magic that allows them to escape in the first place.  The rest of the story is about restoring Iya to normal and defeating the Snow Queen.  Another thing is that the two elves live in a place cut off from the rest of the world called the Vale.  Unlike in other stories, where the main character dreams of leaving their small town to explore the rest of the world, Ean and Iya are perfectly happy in the Vale.  If it weren’t for the Snow Queen, they would have stayed there.  Emma and Rye are the ones that want to leave their home and dream of something greater.  Yes, there are other characters besides Ean and Iya and, like the last game, you can marry various characters.  Ean has to buy things for Iya or have spells cast on the both of them.  Emma has to win or lose a tournament while making a bet with Rye.  Ava can either marry Gavin or teach Nicholas humility depending on which one you’d rather have in your party.  If you want both, go to Amaranth Games and check out the goodies they have for this one.  Oh, and you can also choose between three endings, even though one of them doesn’t actually have an ending.

Unlike the last game where they had a tendency to force pairings, this one actually manages to give them chemistry with the exception of one.  Ean and Iya have been friends for years and there are hints throughout the story that they care for each other a great deal.  Emma and Rye are both commoners who want more from life than what they have.  They also have a competitive streak that causes them to insult each other and place a bet when Emma signs up for a tournament regarding servitude.  To me, this pairing is the most believable because of their natures.  My only problem is that Rye says that Emma’s not like other girls who are boring and sappy.  I get that there probably weren’t many deep women in Rye’s farming village, but he also travels with Iya and Ava.  Ava is a no nonsense pirate who shouldn’t be messed with and while Iya is more girly than the other two, she knows where her priorities lie.  One example is that when Iya and Ean are fleeing from the Snow Queen, though Iya loves her Snow Princess gown, she knows that it’s hard to travel in and that there’s no room for it in her pack so she throws it away.  This is a breath of fresh air from Cassandra Claire’s Draco Trilogy where even when the women were in a life-threatening situation, the minute they got a new dress that was their number one priority.  As I said earlier, Ava has two paths she can take.  Truth is, I didn’t find her relationship with Gavin believable.  During the game, he makes advances that she is constantly rejecting and then he makes an offer out of nowhere that makes her like him.  She refuses, but I wonder if he knew she was going to turn him down.  I also love Nicholas’s storyline where he is rude and conceited yet he sees the consequences of his actions with the help of Ava.  Like Lars, he sees the error of his ways and learns humility.  Unlike Lars, we are not meant to take the writer’s word for it and actually witness his transformation.  His relationship with Ava is far more believable than her marriage to Gavin but I don’t think Nicholas is a better match for her.  Ava and Nicholas’s relationship seems more like an older sibling teaching her younger brother how to behave than that of boyfriend and girlfriend.

The game play is like the last one where you travel the world fighting monsters and leveling up your characters.  You can also partake in events that give certain characters attraction points and buy a farm that can be your party’s headquarters.  If you want an easy play through, you can find several goodie caves throughout the game.  You can also sign Iya up for one of four guilds and get a new outfit based on which one of them you choose.

This game is addictive and has more of a storyline.  I give it 8 out of 10; a superior sequel to the last game.

Aveyond (Amaranthgames.com)

A young girl named Rhen is captured from her home and sent into slavery in a far away land.  Fortunately for her, she has the power to draw magic from swords and is sent to the academy to learn how to use it.  Now she has to stop an evil sorcerer from destroying the world.

I know, this sounds like the plot of Ahriman’s Prophecy with the words changed.  That game is actually a prequel to this one.  While this game does more than the previous one does with the side characters, they all remain the same until the end of the game.  The only exception is Lars who somehow stops acting like a royal brat and gains humility with no explanation of how this drastic change occurred in the first place.  I guess you could say that Dameon also changes but even that literally has to be forced by magic. 

The pairings are another issue I have due to the fact that every one of them seems forced, some of them quite literally.  Rhen’s relationship with Dameon seem to have come from nowhere.  They immediately take a liking to each other and he changes his mind about some of his beliefs just from a few words from her, something his own mother couldn’t accomplish.  You might expect me to talk about how I prefer Lars and Rhen as a pairing, like many other fans do but I’m sort of on the fence about that one.  Rhen was a slave to Lars’ mother and spent years under his abuse.  In the beginning, he didn’t seem to care if he accidentally killed her.  I don’t know about you, but I don’t think I could ever hook up with a guy that I associate the worst years of my life with.  On the other hand, if done correctly, it would have been an interesting story arc to see them struggle with feelings for each other while remembering their history together.  Elini and Pirate John is another pairing I have an issue with because the former pours love potion all over the latter.  I always felt that love potion was a form of rape because you’re forcing someone else to have feelings for you instead of respecting their decisions.  What I liked about Harry Potter and Buffy the Vampire Slayer is that such magic was not portrayed in a favorable light.  Te’ijal and Galahad are also forced but how they end up married is believable and in character, so I will applaud the writers for that.

Speaking of Galahad, he was the character that I found most irritating.  He didn’t believe in magic despite all the evidence around him that it exists in this universe.  He also tags along with Rhen in the belief that a young woman needs a man to protect her despite all evidence that Rhen can protect herself just fine.  Though I did like that when Galahad makes the offer, Rhen is understandably insulted by this but agrees to take him along because his skills would benefit the group as a whole.

Rhen herself is not a believable protagonist.  She has no clue what country she’s in and has to be told where to go.  At the end, you can choose what path she takes and every single one of them seems forced.  If the intention was to give her very little personality so the audience can pretend to be her during the game, it would have been better to use her as a silent protagonist like Link from Legend of Zelda.

The game play is different from the last one in that when you touch a monster, you enter a battle screen. 

You can also change party members as you see fit.  Unfortunately, there’s no escape option so you need to save often.  Sometimes you come across save crystals which I don’t really see the point of having seeing as how you can save the game by going to the main menu.  You can go wherever you want on the world map and enter various cities and wilderness areas.  If you do a thorough search, you can find two goodies, one that can warp you to different locations and another that can give you huge amounts of gold.  You can also find various treasure chests and loot the corpses for more items and gold.  During the game, you’ll also have a choice between four guilds for Lars to join.

This game is simplistic yet addictive.  I give it 7 out of 10; it makes up for its lack of characterization by its fun game play.

Ahriman’s Prophecy (Amaranthgames.com)

Talia was once an ordinary girl who only wanted to be a herbalist.  Unfortunately, during her naming ritual she uncovers an evil plot.  Now she must study to become a magic wielder and save the world from destruction.

The plot’s quite simple, save the world from an evil sorcerer. 

The two main characters are Talia and Devin and sometimes it feels like they’re the only two characters in the whole game.  During the journey, all Devin and Talia do is talk to each other.  While you can invite other characters, they contribute little in the way of storyline.  Alicia’s just another marriage option for Devin, after Frederick’s side quest, you don’t do anything with him except when you need to teach him a new shape shifting form, and Jack only has one side quest option and then he disappears.  It’s like the rest of the members just stand there in silence while Devin and Talia talk.  There’s also a dwarf you can hire but I never really use him.  The story line is quite cliché with a villain dumber than dirt.  One example would be a scene where he possesses a very important person and acts very impatient.  If he had acted nonchalant, Talia and Devin would have just given him the relics they collected and he would have won.

The game play is different than I’m used to but enjoyable.  Instead of entering random battles, you see a health bar whenever you exit town, go around destroying random enemies you see in the field and loot their corpses. 

As I said earlier, you can choose whether you want Devin to marry Talia or Alicia.  Another aspect of the game is that there are five guilds for Talia to join.  There is one aspect of the game play I hate and it’s that you can only have four people with you.  You can’t keep other members in a reserved party and when you switch members out you have to go all the way back to the city you found them in to get them back.  Then you have to switch out another party member to do so.  It’s a very frustrating aspect.

This game is simplistic yet addictive.  I give it 6 out of 10, and the best part is it’s free.