Dungeons of Avalon II: Summary and Rating

From The CRPG Addict

This door brings our explorations to a finish.


Dungeons of Avalon II: Island of Darkness
Zeret (developer); published by CompuTec Verlag (German) and Amiga Mania (English)
Released in 1992 for the Amiga

Date Started: 7 January 2020

Date Ended: 26 January 2020
Total Hours: 29
Difficulty: Average (3/5)
Final Rating: (to come later)
Ranking at time of posting: (to come later)
Dungeons of Avalon II plays exactly like is predecessor: a multi-leveled dungeon crawler that looks like Dungeon Master but plays more like something of the Wizardry lineage. In a vague quest to investigate the evil that has taken over the city of Isla, a six-character party (drawn from a variety of common class types) explores nine 32 x 32 dungeon levels, contending with fixed encounters, spinners, locked doors, teleporters, switches, pressure plates, and other staples of RPG dungeon navigation. For a diskmag game, Dungeons of Avalon II is slick, with commercial-quality combat and a unique graphical style. But it goes on too long, past its level caps, and the tightly-controlled, linear nature of exploration leaves plenty of occasions for “walking dead” scenarios.
Well, Hakan Akbiyik did it to me twice in a row. I found Dungeons of Avalon unwinnable because of its final combat (which failed to trigger the endgame even when I cheated). I couldn’t even make it that far in Dungeons of Avalon II. Here, the problem was the extremely linear nature of gameplay. Although the game has 9 32 x 32 levels, at any given time, “forward” is narrowed down to one or two sections of those levels. Everywhere else, you’re waiting for a key to open a door or another “kill magic” scroll, or an item that someone wants. Just as one area closes off, you hopefully find the item necessary to open another.
Well, I ran out of items. There’s a web site called “Exploring the Dungeons of Avalon” that seeks to disassemble the two games. In consultation with the site, I see that the three problems I face are:
1. There are fewer Keys #2 than there are doors that require Key 2. I still have one to open and I used up the others.
2. I still have a magic barrier that’s blocking my progress, but I’ve run out of “Kill Magic” scrolls. The web site says there are more scrolls than barriers, but I must have messed something up somewhere. I’ve looted all the chests that supposedly have them.
3. My party can’t open a door in the Tower of Roa that’s supposed to be opened by picking it, despite my thief having the highest level. This is the most important of the three. The other two items are only keeping me from getting to some high-level equipment, but this damned door is blocking progress to the final levels. (And no, there’s no spell backup to lockpicking.)
My thief has come a long way since his 13 strength and dexterity, but he’s still not good enough to open a door.
I’m not blaming the game, yet. It’s possible that I just accidentally discarded something I was supposed to keep, and that I’m misinterpreting the disassembly page. But trying again will take at least a dozen hours of going over the same territory, with no guarantees, so I’m not going to do it right now. Plus, I’m hoping the anonymous author of the “Exploring” page gets in touch and helps me out.
In case that doesn’t happen and you’re really itching to know how it ends, I’ve already received messages that Lord Roa, the putative “mayor” of Isla, is actually the son of the Dark Lord from the first game, and everything seemed to be channeling towards a final confrontation with him that would mirror the original game. I even found an “anti-aura” spell scroll to cancel his spell immunity. If I was successful at the final combat, I would have gotten the gratitude of the king and 20,000 gold pieces.
I gave the original game 31 points on the GIMLET, but I’ll rate this one without checking the individual scores or logic on the first one:
  • 2 points for the game world. There’s a bare-bones framing story, but that’s about it. The game doesn’t even really justify it being set in a dungeon when the backstory deals with a city and the subtitle references an island.
  • 4 points for character creation and development. There’s some good stuff in the selection of character types and some tough choices to make about the classes. Character development is steady and rewarding, until you hit the unforgivably low level cap well before the end of the game.
Taliesin levels up for the last time.
  • 1 point for NPC interaction. I think I’m being a bit generous. The few NPCs in the game are more like “encounters” in which someone happens to speak.
  • 4 points for encounters and foes. Monsters are reasonably well-described and have their own strengths and weaknesses. The non-combat encounters and puzzles are nothing original, but they scratch the dungeon crawler’s itch.
  • 3 points for magic and combat. The Wizardry/Bard’s Tale system is old but venerable, and the selection of spells creates a reasonable number of tactical scenarios. The big problem is how fast spell points go, making most combats a slow matter of slugging it out.
  • 4 points for equipment–a decent selection of weapons, armor, scrolls, potions, helms, shields, rings, and missile items. I think the game offers more equipment upgrades than its predecessor.
I always like a game with lots of inventory slots.
  • 2 points for the economy–famine at the beginning and feast at the end.
  • 3 points for quests. There’s a main quest, which automatically gets two points, but also some side quests, such as recovering the “dragon stone” for the dragon. 
  • 4 points for graphics, sound, and interface. The interface needed more keyboard shortcuts, but I appreciated the automap, the background sound, and in particular the imaginative graphics. If we were judging games just by their monster portraits, I’d have to put the Dungeon of Avalon titles in the top 5% of games played so far.
  • 3 points for gameplay. It earns those mostly for its moderate difficulty and a slight amount of replayability with different classes, but for the most part it’s too linear and too long.
That gives us a final score of 30, which is a nice validation of the GIMLET. Reviewing my scores for the original game now, I’m not sure why I gave so much (4 points) to the game world, but the rest of the scores are very similar.
In my wrap-up of the first game, I covered the futures of each of the developers. It mostly worked out well for them. Sorry that it didn’t for us.

Original URL: http://crpgaddict.blogspot.com/2020/01/dungeons-of-avalon-ii-summary-and-rating.html