Avernum: Escape From The Pit is an old school RPG where you take control of a four character party in order to do some old fashioned treasure/gear hunting, character development, puzzle-solving, and most importantly, open-ended exploration.
Avernum 6 HD is Spiderweb's third iPad release. It is a sequel to the excellent Avernum: Escape From the Pit, but there are actually 4 games (available on Mac and PC only) in between these two, so if you played the first one, this one isn't likely to feel like much of a sequel as the world of Avernum is so vastly different. I can't say for sure why Spiderweb did this, but they may be planning on parallel development for future releases, which certainly makes sense. It is important to note, however, that the game in no way suffers from the lack of recent prequels. All of Spiderweb's games are fully self-contained, and stand easily on their own.
If you've never played one of Spiderweb's games, I recommend you take a moment to look at my previous reviews: Avernum: Escape From The Pit, and Avadon: The Black Fortress. If you're already familiar with the gameplay, however, then read on. By far the biggest (and only truly notable) change with Avernum 6 is the skill point allocation system. Previous iPad titles streamlined the leveling process with a skill tree system. Avernum 6, however, has returned to its traditional RPG roots by allowing players to allocate skill points where they like. While this isn't as intuitive or straightforward as the previous system, it allows a fantastic amount of customization, and even rewards thoughtful gamers by unlocking powerful secret skills for exceedingly clever builds. 30+ hours of gameplay, dozens of dungeons and fortresses to explore, 50 spells and battle disciplines, and most importantly, Spiderweb's notable knack for great storytelling throughout an open, non-linear adventure.
Avernum 6 uses the same game engine that previous titles used. While the graphics are underwhelming, they are not amateurish or sloppy; and don't really detract from the gameplay. I'll be the first to admit that I enjoy eye candy as much as the next gamer (I was pretty hard on the graphics in my previous reviews), and I certainly wish Spiderweb's graphic engine had a bit more punch, but once you're sucked into the game, trust me, you won't even notice.
The music and sound of Avernum 6 are adequate; nothing to write home about, mind you, but adequate. Like the graphics, however, the game is just so darn good that you're likely not to notice once you've invested some time in the story.
In-App Purchases (IAPs)
Avernum 6 contains neither content nor consumable IAPs. While I always welcome the former, the absence of the latter is a big plus, in my book as they, more often than not, tend to unbalance gameplay.
Avernum 6 is the best Spiderweb title yet for iOS, primarily due to the game returning to a traditional skill point system. The story is excellent, and the game is designed to let you play in your own way, at your own pace. All too often, I have found myself playing RPGs that push you through a linear story, never allowing you to explore or experiment. Avernum 6 breaks those shackles, and sets you free; and does so in masterful old school style.
Ratings (scale of 1 to 5):
Graphics: - 3 - Adequate, but not up to the standards set by the amazing gameplay. Sound: - 2 - Not great, but as with the graphics, you're not likely to notice because the game is just that good. Controls: - 5 - A great UI, with an accurate touch interface. If this was adapted from a PC version, I certainly couldn't tell. Gameplay: - 5+ - An amazing example of a role-playing game from home computing's golden age, updated for the iPad. Fantastically rich and open-ended gameplay.
Playing Hints and Tips:
As you wander around exploring, pay attention to your surroundings. Dangerous areas will generally be marked, but you will have to read the signs to know this. Search everything. Finding the good gear is half the fun of this game. Pay attention to how you allocate your skill points; it's best to have a plan before you assign even the first point. Don't balance your characters, balance your party! Each character should be highly specialized, with deficiencies compensated for by other party members. Avoid the jack of all trades, master of none syndrome.