Avernum: Escape From The Pit Review

Can you escape from the pit? (Image property of Spiderweb Software)
Can you escape from the pit? (Image property of Spiderweb Software)

I’ve decided to look at some Steam games as the Steam Summer Sale is currently going on. This whole week I will post reviews on some of the best games I have ever gotten on sale at Steam (And every game I’ve ever bought on Steam has been on sale, so it may be tough for me to choose) What happens when you remake the remake of a classic game with better graphics that can work on newer operating systems without a hitch? You get Avernum: Escape From The Pit, a CRPG game.

Plot And Setting

What’s Avernum? Originally released in the 90s as Exile: Escape From The Pit, you play as a warrior thrown into the underground of the land. You are now trapped in a land of lizard people, cat people, monsters, and various other things that want to kill you. It’s up to you and your party of slightly customizable adventurers to escape. Along your way, you encounter many viscous beasts and entertaining side-quests as you make your way to the end of the main story at which point you choose from one of three different endgames all resulting in a radically different end to your story. The real question is, can you escape from the pit?

Gameplay

The gameplay of Avernuim is what would happen if you made a more user-accessible version of Baldur’s Gate’s engine. After choosing a party by selecting your favored classes so you can have unique party of adventurers, you start your game when you encounter several underground-dwellers who wish to enslave you. This part of the game serves as your tutorial and teaches you the basics of what you need to do properly play the game. You gain one stat point and two skill points per level and you can assign them wherever you see fit. Keep in mind that with this kind of game you need to be careful where you assign your points. If you put all your points into your Cave Lore skill then your warrior or mage may be unprepared for the challenges presented later in the game.

Another awesome feature of this game is open world exploration. You can go wherever you want in this large open world, yet I think I prefer the open world of older Spiderweb Software games like the original Avernum games and Geneforge. In those games, the open world was split into segments that you could travel much like the old Baldur’s Gate games. While an Isometric open-world is cool, I found that I would often backtrack to the wrong areas too often or get lost easily. There is no fast-travel system so I found that backtracking was terrible. In Spiderweb games, it was a lot more streamlined and the game would often highlight areas you haven’t fully explored yet.

Another complaint I have is that some of the early enemies can be a little too overpowered. The Slith were a good example of this, you can fight a group of them right off the start and you’ll get destroyed very easily by them. In fact, a lot of early enemies are like this. Still, near the middle of the game it starts to get a little more lenient. Once you hit Level 30, the game becomes a bit of a cakewalk. Still, it is a very fun game. I had fun leveling up my rebel, “Ninjoe” and his party of sidekicks.

The strategic gameplay is fairly simple, yet it does take a little bit of planning and tactics to take out the tougher enemies. You can also find various items in the game that will buff your party as well as spells that can do similar status effects. The game has over 100 locations and is truly massive for a game I only paid about 2 bucks for. I whole-hardheartedly reccomend getting this game while its on sale because it is a tremendous value.

Graphics And Sound

Here’s where people often throw their complaints at this game. Here’s the thing: The graphics are extremely outdated and the music is non-existent. That being said, these aren’t really detriments tot the game. The Spiderweb games are meant to emulate older CRPG games and those games didn’t possess astounding graphics either. A lot of the gamer features assets re-used from Avadon: The Black Fortress and other Spiderweb games as a sort of cost-cutting measure. The only music in the game is the tune you’ll here on the main title screen, but the lack of music does help add to the atmosphere. The game isn’t much of a looker, but that kind of quality doesn’t really matter much with a Spiderweb Software game.

Overview

In conclusion, this game is a lot of fun and has a massive amount of content for such an amazing price. I highly reccomend grabbing it. I also reccomend the Avernum: Great Trials Trilogy if you are looking for more classic RPG goodness. If you like Avernum, you may also enjoy Geneforge, Avadon, or Nethergate: Ressuection which are all games from Spiderweb Software that all have different setting and features. It’s a good value, especially for such a massive game. As usual, I’m adverse to giving out numbered ratings. Since the CRPG genre is starting to make a comeback though, I feel it only fair to give this game a score. I award this game a 7.5/10. Definitely a fine game that I will come back to quite often. Backtracking is an issue and world exploration can be somewhat of a problem, but these things can be overlooked for a great RPG that acts as a great successor to similar games of this caliber. Currently, the game is on sale for little over 3 bucks which is a steal. If you want an RPG with meat on its bone, you should definitely pick Avernum: Escape From The Pit!

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