Review – AVARIAvs
The first of two games from the Kickstarter fuelled universe of Avaria, a JRPG inspired world of alien races, advanced robots, and oppressed people. In AVARIAvs you use the classic turn-based combat style from games like Final Fantasy and face off against other players or bots. The developers have hopes of it becoming a feature in eSports and have already had some success in hosting a few leagues.
The gameplay is as much as you’d expect from a stripped-down JRPG. At the beginning of each turn, you tell your team what you want each member to do. Confirm it and both sides will attack in order of their speed value. The game’s tagline of “ultra-fast turn-based-combat” is almost an impossibility when each player can take a few minutes to decide what to do. More than once a player failed to ever make a move, leaving me staring at his idling team. Just like most turn-based combat games, the game tries to encourage you to use character’s non-offensive abilities such as boosting your stats instead of damaging your enemies. I found the best tactic was having two out of three of my team attack one guy and have the third heal everybody else. With this strategy, I rarely lost a match.
Throughout the match you gain levels for each hero, letting you upgrade one of your moves to a more powerful version. When you have leveled up enough, you can access your special Focusburn move, either dealing massive damage to the other team or healing yours, depending on which archetype you’ve chosen. The Focusburn will rely on you completing one of the cheesy, Japanese inspired mini-games. Strange things like catching fish with a cartoon cat are a bit of a break in pace for a game calling itself “ultra-fast”.
The designs of the heroes on the roster are great, with each race and classes having their own look. Unfortunately, there is not the same diversity in the move list, as most characters have similar attacks. Seeing the same animation three times in a row, no matter how smooth and interesting, starts to get dull. For the first few rounds though, the visuals are fun and quirky, like summoning asteroids to rain down or having a robot kill an enemy with spam mail.
The soundtrack is minimal, but it’s mainly background noise as you pick your moves. As far as background music goes, you can’t go wrong with nostalgic 80’s synth. The few times you get to hear the characters talk, it is mostly with a grunt as they throw their attack or the over-the-top announcer proclaiming each death like a gnarly skateboarding trick.
From the loading screens, you learn more about the universe and the races that inhabit it. Unfortunately, there aren’t many other sources for story in-game because the story part, named Avaria Ghost of the Immortal is still in development. The screens give just enough information for a vague idea of the world, but without any backstory to the sixteen characters, you are left wondering what makes each character different. If you take the time to look up the background on their website, it gives some much-needed information on the characters and the world.
AVARIAvs shows a lot of promise for anybody who ever wanted to pitch their Final Fantasy team against their friends and see who was really the better player. Unfortunately, with the story mode and most of the lore of the universe coming out later, we are left to piece together the clues of why everybody is fighting in the first place. Needless to say, this makes for quite the hollow experience.
It has some amazing visuals in the moves and the characters are original and interesting. There’s a lot of detail put into even the little 2D mini-games that pop up.
Because AVARIAvs is just the combat part of a JRPG, it feels like something’s missing. Not a wide selection of moves and no customization options leave a lot of room for improvement.
The light 80’s synth was just enough to not have any awkward silences between rounds. But it was suited to the fighter style along with the over-the-top announcer.
A great idea and one that hopefully continues to grow into something more. Having just one component of the JRPG games they are trying to emulate isn’t enough and it grows stale pretty quickly.
Final Verdict: 7.0
AVARIAvs is available now on PC.
A copy of AVARIAvs was provided by the publisher.