February 28, 2014 4:40 PM | Lena LeRay
Avadon 2 is the second entry in a tactical RPG series themed around security and freedom. Is protection from external threats worth trampling the rights of your citizens? If you saw my review of Avadon 2 when it came out for PC back in November, you already know that Spiderweb Software has crafted a vibrant world populated with illustrative NPCs and quests to support a thought-provoking storyline. For 20 years, Spiderweb Software has been creating solid PC RPG games, and now Avadon 2 marks their third entry into the tablet scene. The meat of the game, the story and battle system, are unchanged save for necessary changes to the controls for touch screens, which means that Spiderweb Software has successfully brought a full tactical RPG experience from PC to mobile.
In Avadon 2, the player takes on the role of a soldier in the armies of The Pact, a group of centrally located nations which have allied themselves under a ruling council to prevent wars between them from eroding their ability to protect themselves from the threats around them. Shortly into the game, the player gets conscripted into the forces of Avadon, which is the name of both a fortress and the group based out of it. Avadon is outside the law, with the authority to do anything necessary to protect the security of The Pact from threats internal and external. This puts the player in the position of choosing how heavy-handed to be in the course of trying to do their duties.
There are five character classes to use in a tactical battle system which is turn-based and grid-based. Sorcerers throw spells; blademasters can be tanks or heavy hitters; shadowwalkers are ninjas, more or less; shamans can heal and summon creatures to fight with the party; and tinkermages can build turrets and traps on the fly. There are melee attacks and long range attacks, area of effect attacks, cone attacks, line of sight concerns, status effects, buffs, and debuffs. So there's nothing especially new or innovative about the system or the classes, though the battle system is rock solid from years of iteration from game to game.
All of that is still intact for the iPad version of the game, though the controls, of course, had to be changed. For the most part, things work exactly as you'd expect, and mistakes in battle from misplaced touches are rare. Although the PC version is entirely controllable via mouse (with keyboard shortcuts available for many things), a mouse can do different things in the same spot depending on whether the pointer is just hovering or a button is being clicked. On a touch screen, you're either tapping or touching and holding; either way, you're effectively clicking the button. All of the true changes to how the interface works for the iPad reflect that difference. Players accustomed to the PC versions of Spiderweb Software's games will have to get used to the changes, but that isn't too hard.
The two things that gave me the most trouble were relearning how to equip my characters and dealing with how the camera follows your party when moving around the map. In the PC version, you click-drag equipment between a character's inventory and his or her equipment display. On the iPad version, however, if you want to do something with an item (any item, not just equipment), you must first tap it to select it, bringing up an item window that doesn't exist in the PC version but which makes it easy to do anything you want with the item. Tapping and holding on an item brings up a quick tooltip, like hovering the mouse does in the PC version, and if you drag your finger off of the item, the tooltip goes away without selecting the item. It's a very intuitive control scheme, and the only reason I had trouble with it at first was my familiarity with the PC version.
As for the camera following my party around the map, the default setting causes the camera to snap to the main character any time he or she gets far enough away from the center of the screen. It's designed to keep you from having to frantically scroll the map around while the characters are moving, but I like to look around the environment as I travel, searching for half-hidden switches on the walls and loot I can pick up off the ground. On the iPad Mini, at least, the amount of displayed real estate is so low that the camera snaps to the characters nonstop, and it's almost impossible to look around much as you go. The option to turn that off is easy to find in the settings, though it really is a handy feature for those times when you want to travel all the way back across an area you've cleared out.
Overall, the new control system is well adapted to touch screens and the result is a PC style tactical RPG that is easy to cart around. It's not a short game, either. With turn-based combat, multiple levels of difficulty that can be changed on the fly, and the ability to save the game any time except during combat, Avadon 2 is a title that can be interrupted without much impact on play. It's still good for longer stretches of time, too, because it doesn't drain your batteries quickly.
Right now, Avadon 2 is only available for iPads, as far as tablets go, but the previous game is also available for Android and Spiderweb Software's web site indicates that they have plans to release this one on Androids at a later date. The game will set you back $9.99, which is a fairly high price for a mobile title, but it's the same price you'd pay to get the game on Steam or GOG for your PC and it's a steal for the value on any system. As I said in the PC review, if you've never enjoyed games of its kind before, Avadon 2 won't offer anything to change your mind. If you want a hardcore tactical RPG to take with you on the road, though, this is a great place to look.