After porting Sherlock Holmes Versus Jack the Ripper to the Xbox 360, Spiders made their first original title; Faery: Legends of Avalon. I have actually never seen this RPG in action before, but it was recommended to me due to that there was “something unique to it”. I cannot say that the game’s visuals intrigued me much, but I have always found Spiders’s projects to be clearly made with passion, even if they are far from perfect. This smaller title is no exception to this rule.
A long time ago, magic pervaded our world, to the point where humans and faeries lived together peacefully. However, the race of man began to lose faith in the Faery Kingdom, treating it eventually as childish belief or even demonic worshipping. The king of the elves, Oberon, decided to cut ties completely with the humans and hide anything magical from them, but even worse events are now occurring. Magic is disappearing from their world as well, and the mythical creatures are suffering because of this. Oberon asks you, the recently awakened faery, to help him restore the magic and save their world.
This is the basic plot, and while it might not be interesting in itself, the different worlds are due to how you have to restore the magic in each area and help out the creatures who are suffering through different means. You will help ghosts find their peace on the Flying Dutch, save Yggdrasil from its illness, and even meet charming characters that wish to help you throughout your journey. Be it the poetic and knowledgeable troll Bert or the sassy pirate Amareta, all characters have a cute trait to them that makes each of them memorable and endearing. It is definitely enough to not let the cliche hero you are controlling be a bother, despite him having amnesia at disposal.
Unfortunately, Faery tries to become more magical by providing tons of dialogues and multiple NPCs, and they are severely hit and miss. The writing can be very poor and it even lacks good grammar from time to time, which is not helped by the game containing lore that generally adds nothing to this world. However, there are some adorable parts to the inclusions too, with my favourite being a small faery living by an anthill because the ants are such hard workers. These moments help to give the game a strong charm, even if the quests can be easily forgettable for how mundane they are.
What is quite interesting about this title, are the choices you can make. They are not entirely about whether you are a good or bad person, but rather if the characters you talk to will approve or disapprove of your decisions. Those they dislike will often result in quicker solutions such as fighting, but the approved ones can lead to longer quests with more steps to them, both providing different events. The choices will never change the overall story, but still provide intriguing results and are still a solid concept for making the adventure more personal
The game’s overall tone is somewhat lighthearted, with a theme revolving around preserving magic being presented. This will also include environmental messages, and it can be to the point where you just shrug at the story and want to look at the varied areas from a small faery’s perspective. Despite that I did not care much for many of the events or lore included, there are many moments I did enjoy. Still, these are only moments in a story that is lacklustre due to sloppy writing, pace, and a forgettable plot. It is also disheartening that it all ends on a shallow cliffhanger. Feary‘s world was one that I was happy to indulge in, but it was definitely poorly structured.
Story Score: 4/10
Cute and fun like a pixie
After a limited character creation, you play as your created faery who is able to fly around and explore the different worlds until your heart’s content. This is surely an RPG with turn-based combat being the main focus, but I would like to start out this segment by looking at the designs of the areas and the quests provided. Faery contains four worlds to explore, with the first one functioning as a hub of sorts. Each location is structured differently with plenty of secrets and tasks to find, be it on an island in the middle of the ocean, inside an Arabic city located on top of a giant scarab or on a pirate ship with plenty of nooks and crannies to look through. You even gain XP for your discoveries, which is a nice reward in itself.
This setup makes each world fully free to explore, with plenty of hidden chests, enemies, and quests to find. There is no limit to how far you can fly, with only the caves being somewhat linear mazes. This is quite the unique take on traversing, but because of how the quests demand you to look around for the right solutions or ingredients, the game fully encourages you to search everywhere. Each location is also confined and have memorable areas, making it actually fun to take on these fetch quests. They will always require a keen eye and good memory, and you can fly incredibly fast to boot. Although, better maps could have been provided than the isometric images that barely help.
Furthermore, some quests and even responses will have different outcomes depending on how you act as mentioned. You can decide to be kind towards characters to help everyone out or take a harsher tone which usually leads to direct confrontations. For example, when the tree Yggdrasil was suffering and a bee nest seemed to have something to do with it, I could either go inside and fight them and their queen or smoke them out. Both are valid choices and yield XP, so it is up to you on how you wish to take on the quests. However, it can be difficult to choose, since the combat is just as engaging as the exploration.
Being a turn-based RPG, you will take control of a party of three with one of them always being your own avatar. The bottom right showcases who takes a turn when, and all players can perform different actions through the amount of action points they gain by each round. These include casting spells, executing physical attacks, using items, and changing between offensive and defensive positions. What is great about this setup, is that physical attacks are just as valid as magical ones, since it all depends on the enemies’ weaknesses. This is why Faery does not even have a traditional mana bar and lets you see every enemy type on the overworld, making it easy to choose and plan your battles.
All creatures have clear strengths and weaknesses to them, which is the case for your companions too. Everyone has special attacks and your characters can even learn new moves, like casting meteor. The elements ranging between air, fire, electric, earth, water, and physics, adds to give a strong dose of variety to consider, and are balanced by making the stronger abilities require more action points and might even have a cooldown to them. While you do heal after every battle, there are no shops around, making your healing potions and the equipment for your main character important to search out for.
Yes, the only one you have any solid input on with upgrades and equipment, is your avatar. At best, your companions will let you choose between two moves they can learn, and that is it. Your main character will gain skill points upon levelling up, which you can use on different parts of their body. Through this, they will learn new attacks or acquire certain boosts in stats, making this aspect engaging to experiment with. You can make the avatar cast fire magic, focus on healing and buffs, into a tank or become a jack of all trades, giving you a good amount of freedom to make the character you want to play as. The rest of your characters’ stats are automatically increased upon each level up, but always complimenting their fighting styles and are easy to understand.
There is also an interesting design with the weapons and armours, as the game only includes a small selection of them based on each element, such as greaves of water or headband of iron. None of the equipment are stronger than the other, except for the single superb version of each. Instead, each one will provide better stats based on their elemental, making the player focused on considering what might be more important for their avatar’s build. I love this concept, as a set for strengthening your focused attributes further can work, but mixing it up is just as valid for creating a diverse fighter or to help out the stats that are poor.
Although, I do find it a shame that your companions do not get nearly enough customisation. They are still enjoyable to have along in fights, such as the cute dragon or Grim who summons animals for aid, but they are not nearly as fleshed out as the main character. I believe this comes from Faery being a rushed RPG. It is only 5-6 hours long with side quests included, you will not reach a high level, there are few companions to find, and the game is overall simple in design. Sure, the combat and exploration are both engaging, but every world is small, enemies are more aggressive than tactical, and the bosses can feel similar with big area attacks or the ability to summon creatures.
Luckily, Faery is also well structured. By working within its smaller setup, this journey turns into a solid adventure that provides good mechanics in combat and exploration. Neither becomes deep, but still engaging due to creative designs implemented. With varied enemy weaknesses, different worlds to explore, fun quests, and never halting the player with grinding or poor backtracking, this RPG provides a nice and short session that makes me hope for more to come.
Gameplay Score: 7.5/10
Lacking diversity and pencil strokes
At first glance, it is hard to not notice the game’s glaring issues in its visuals. The character creation is terribly limited, every texture is bland and lack good design, and the use of colours are poor in all of the locations. Even the characters can feel rushed, with few details and bad mouth animations. However, I also see what the developers were trying to do with the more washed off colours and the realistic take on its fantasy setting.
Through the loading screens and the intro cutscene, we are presented with gorgeous drawings of fairy tale creatures from traditional folktales. This style they have is very uncommon to use these days, due to their very strange and almost uncomfortable design, despite also being somehow adorable. This adaptation is brought over well, with characters having big eyes, off proportions, and even some strange graphics being implemented that makes the overall game look cel-shaded. I also believe the use of colours were done to make each location more memorable, like the Flying Dutch containing blue colours everywhere, the Yggdrasil using green as a sign of good health, and so on.
However, everything feels unfinished. The developers should have had a stronger focus on the textures by including clear pencil marks or made the style more cartoony through its strange lighting. This middle ground does not do either setups any justice sadly, and instead makes everything unintentionally uncomfortable. It is also hard to not notice the plenty of reused character models for the NPCs, damaging the overall atmosphere. Although, I will say that I love how you see everything from a small creature’s perspective, making even boxes seem like ginormous contraptions. The faery creatures are varied in types as well, which I can appreciate.
If I can say anything genuinely good about the combat visually, it has to do with the enemies. Battling mermaids and sphinx are neat, but it is also refreshing to be attacking bees, birthing termites, and giant birds, adding to the concept of how small you are. The magic could look better as each spell is basically a stronger version of your own, but those with combined elements are more creative and sights to behold, like the ice rocks. You are even always fighting where you meet the opponents, which is a neat detail for immersion. I do question how all of my companions can fly, but that is a nitpick of mine.
However, the star for me is your own avatar. While not given much to work with in the beginning, upgrading skills will affect certain parts of their body, furthering the customisation. For example, giving them horns will provide them an area attack, and as you level that up, so grows their horns. This is incredibly neat, and is extended further to other parts of the avatar’s body, such as giving them tattoos or different wings. This makes it exciting to see what your character will look like, besides just playing dress up with their equipment which are also shown on them.
Unfortunately, the technical aspects hold everything back due to how ugly it can all look and contain reused models. Even more tragic, the audio is not much better. Some attacks lack sounds, and the magical effects are dull and barely reminiscing of what element they are trying to represent. The environmental sounds are stronger, such as the ocean hitting the shores or the wind in the Arabic location, but that is about it. The lack of voice acting can also make scenes of dialogue drag further on and make the stiff animations more noticeable.
That being said, I love the music. It has a ballet tone to it, with light chimes and mysterious echoes to it, fitting the aesthetics of playing as a faery. I genuinely enjoy the compositions for how strong and varied they are, as they provide a fairy tale atmosphere that reminds me of going to see stage performances like The Nutcracker. There are even tons of symphonic instruments being used, like bass, violins, and even a full on choir, adding to every melody presented. With diverse notes and emotions making each song having a fantastic buildup and structure, this is probably the single fantastic element in this messy presentation, and I hope Markus Schmidt is proud of his work.
Presentation Score: 5/10
The interesting or the easy way?
The choices on how you wish to proceed with certain quests will present different events and reactions from characters affected by your decisions, giving some reasons to go through the adventure with a new save file. Sadly, it does not yield much replay value when the overall story will not change much and all of the choices are made to be equally valid. Even trying out new builds is not that interesting, as all are solid ways to play and not necessarily unique. Luckily, a new character can affect who you decide to fight alongside with, which adds some variety to the next playthrough. I can see myself picking up Faery after some time has gone, and then try out a new pathway. However, doing it right away is a hard sell, even with its short length.
Extra Score: 5/10
This is far from a big or expansive RPG, but that is also a part of why I enjoyed it. Faery goes as far as it can and provides a fun journey by staying focused. It is definitely ugly at times, lacks an interesting story, and there are some aspects that are simply underdeveloped. However, the style is solid, the combat and exploration are both always entertaining, and there are some intriguing ideas that truly worked. This is one of the games that deserves a second chance, and with its cliffhanger ending, hopefully it can even get a sequel. As it is now, it is a perfectly fine RPG that has some blatant problems.