Recently I bought the Xbox Live indie game Avatar Legends, from Barker’s Crest Studio, who also made the hit games Avatar Golf, Home Run Challenge, and Easy Golf Course Architect.
Avatar Legends is an action-rpg, in which your main character is your Xbox Live avatar. The game starts simple enough, with your avatar being mysteriously dropped into a world with other avatars, which make up the NPCs (non-playable characters) in the game. These avatar NPCs will give you quests and sell you healing items, weapons, and shields.
Most quests are pretty basic, and consist of eliminating x number of monsters in x area, then reporting back to the NPC for your reward. Usually it’s gold or a healing item such as bread or an herb, but sometimes if it’s a big quest you will get a weapon or shield.
You use the X button to attack with your weapon (usually a sword, but sometimes an axe), and the Y button to use your magic attack (the type of magic you use can be changed in the game’s menu). As you advance in the game you will also gain the ability to charge up either a physical or magic attack by holding down the left trigger and pressing the corresponding button. This comes in especially handy against hordes of monsters.
And you will fight hordes of them. Depending on where you are at in any given area, and the time of day, goblins, skeletons and more will randomly spawn near you. Showing up as red blips on your mini-map radar, they’ll swarm towards you.
Leveling up in the game is pretty simple: once you reach 100 experience points you gain a level. Unfortunately it can take some time to get there. You often may find yourself killing a horde of monsters and only receiving 3 xp.
I played through it on the normal difficulty, but there are also easy, hard, and insane difficulty levels to choose from as well. On the normal mode you may find yourself dying occasionally, but you simply respawn at your last saved game’s location (which unless you save manually will be when you entered a new map area). Other than your time there’s not much to lose.
Graphically the game looks as good as any indie Xbox avatar game. That is to say it’s a far cry from the newest multi-million dollar shooter, but you can at least see everything clearly and recognize what everything is supposed to be. In addition, map areas are pretty large and varied, consisting of houses, windmills, farms, rivers, forests and more.
Sound consists of the usually light pop/rock music that Barkers Crest is known for. Nothing too outstanding, but it does change from one location to the next.
According to the developer it boasts 10 hours of gameplay-but that’s just in the single player adventure mode.
Also included is an online mode where up to 6 people can play co-cooperatively and fight off hordes of monsters. Think something similar to Gauntlet. These rounds can be a few minutes long or mere seconds, depending on how long everyone survives and the difficulty level you selected. In this mode your character profile is completely separate from the Adventure mode, so you will start at level 1 even if you have been playing the single player for hours. This of course means you will start out with weak weapons, weak shields and no magic. These are actually bought from a lobby menu with gold that is earned after each round, based on the number of monsters killed. It’s a simple but long online mode, and the addition of a powerful map creator to create your own custom maps for you and others is a terrific bonus.
While the gameplay can get repetitive if you’re playing for hours, Avatar Legends is still a very well made indie game. The story has some clean humor in it, and even parodies games such as Call of Duty and Halo. Given it’s length, excellent use of avatars, and the fact that good indie games are hard to come by (let alone good indie games that use avatars and are RPGs) it’s impossible to not recommend Avatar Legends.
Avatar Legends was released May 26, 2011 on the Xbox Live Indie Marketplace. Currently it is available for only 240 MSP, or $3 U.S.