Avalon Code Review
Avalon Code box art
System: DS Review Rating Legend
Dev: Matrix Software 1.0 - 1.9 = Avoid 4.0 - 4.4 = Great
Pub: Xseed Games / Marvelous Interactive 2.0 - 2.4 = Poor 4.5 - 4.9 = Must Buy
Release: Mar. 10, 2009 2.5 - 2.9 = Average 5.0 = The Best
Players: 1 3.0 - 3.4 = Fair
ESRB Rating: Everyone 10+ 3.5 - 3.9 = Good
Not Quite by the Book
by Nathan Meunier

There’s an abundance of stale, formulaic RPGs on the market that do little to push boundaries or try drastically fresh ideas, which makes it doubly exciting when one comes along that tries out some new, daring premise. Developed by Matrix Software, the same team responsible for the glorious DS remakes of Final Fantasy III and IV, Avalon Code simply breaks the mold. In many ways, publisher XSEED’s latest DS title might appear to just be one more to throw on the pile, but this unusual RPG adventure has some standout surprises to throw you for a loop.

Avalon Code screenshot

If you knew the world was about to end, wouldn’t you want to try to do something to halt the inevitable annihilation of everything in existence? Breaking from RPG tradition, the heroic protagonist in Avalon Code could seemingly care less about the impending destruction of the world. Instead, he (or she) seeks to locate and magically document the things worth keeping before it all ends. While fighting off beasts, traveling to different realms, and running around whacking everything in sight with a big dusty tome are worthy pursuits, the ability to fiddle with the intrinsic code that exists within nearly every person, beast, and item you encounter is what makes Avalon Code such an interesting experiment.

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With the end of existence nigh, you’ve been chosen to wield the Book of Prophecy and venture out into the land to record anything worth saving. Your task is of particular importance, since everything captured within the book’s magical pages will be used to create the next world after the apocalypse. Despite being rather gloomy, the slightly off-kilter story in Avalon Code is a great change of pace. The adventure follows a course many RPG vets are accustomed to – you’ll travel from town-to-town taking on quests, seeking important items and powers, and engaging in other traditional pursuits found in similar titles – but the subtext of the encroaching Armageddon and the need to preserve certain elements found in the doomed world puts you in a unique role.

Avalon Code screenshot

Adventuring from one location to the next, the bulk of Avalon Code’s gameplay and presentation initially feels very much like an amalgamation between the Final Fantasy DS remakes and the handheld version of Final Fantasy Crystal Chronicles – not surprising, given the development team’s prior work on the Final Fantasy franchise. Your journey will lead you in search of a variety of different weapons and related abilities. Additionally, you’ll chase down several elemental sprites that guide you on your quest and introduce you to the powers of the Book of Prophecy. When you’re not getting to know the locals in a particular town, you’ll venture out into the dangerous wilds for several different flavors of hack-and-slash combat.

While traveling between locales, you’ll primarily battle re-spawning foes and use gained weapon abilities to navigate the terrain. This eventually leads you to the game’s many puzzle dungeons. These feature a room-by-room progression format that incorporates hitting switches, utilizing platforms, slaying enemies, and completing other tasks within a set amount to receive a point rating and the green light to move to the next room. All of these action RPG elements are nicely implemented, yet they cover all-too-familiar turf. It’s how the Book of Prophecy comes into play that really spices things up.

Avalon Code screenshot

Screenshots / Images
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