Avernum 3: Ruined World concludes RPG trilogy in 2018

Don’t call it retro: Jeff Vogel’s Spiderweb Software are still making the same sorts of RPGs they did decades ago (and often the very same games). This week Spiderweb announced Avernum 3: Ruined World [official site], capping off their trilogy of remakes of their expanded remakes of the ’90s Exile games. If you want old-school top-down RPG action with plenty of freedom and a world that changes as disaster unfolds, mate, it’s coming in a few months. Here, have a look in the announcement trailer:

Spiderweb Software explain the premise:

“At last, your people are free. You broke out of the underworld prison of Avernum. You emerge onto the surface, back into the sun at last, only to find that the world is being destroyed. Plagues of horrifying monsters scourge the surface. If you don’t stop them, you will have no home to escape to.”

That’s the start of Doom II, isn’t it?

From there, you can roam around, quest, crawl through dungeons, get a house, or try to stop the monsters and save the world I guess if that’s your sort of thing rather than larking about.

Avernum 3: Ruined World is coming to Windows and Mac in early 2018, by the end of March. We’ve not looked at Spider’s games much but John’s Avernum: Escape From the Pit review did like the first one.

36 Comments

  1. baqueta says:

    I tried the first one a while ago, and completely bounced off it. I found the combat and systems overly simple, and the story didn’t grab me enough in the first couple of hours to persevere. Any fans of the game care to try and win me over? What was I missing?

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      Drib says:

      Same thing. This company makes piles of hideously ugly RPGs, and I’ve tried several, and they’re all quite bland and dull. At least in the beginning, when they should be grabbing the player.

      Eh.

    • klops says:

      I played the first Avernum or some else Spiderweb game (it had Celts and Romans) in the 90s, and to my surprise enjoyed it. Then again, it’s over 15 years ago. Then again again, I had an aquired taste even then and disliked most of the games, so it had something.

      Of course, this babbling doesn’t really answer your question but I seem to have expected the same things from the game as you experienced and still enjoyed it.

      Perhaps it is some sort of nostalgy that draws people to it? Or the simple enough gameplay in fantastic and nostalgic world? I don’t know. Nowadays I don’t have time to play, so I just write nonsense in gaming forums.

    • Darloth says:

      See, the thing is… I had the same problem.

      But I -loved- the Exile series, which these games are remakes of and directly based on. While their graphics are most certainly not as good (they’re hybrid topdown / side on in that way tile based games can sometimes get away with, instead of isometric) and their interface is ancient, I honestly found that the older games had more tactical depth, more options, and let you get to the reasons the game is good (excellent world design, passable to pretty good writing, an interesting plot) quicker and with less weird janky bits than the Avernum series.

      • TillEulenspiegel says:

        Same. The Exiles were fantastic, really special rough gems that kept you interested in exploring the world and developing your characters. Sadly it’s really tough to get over the extremely clunky interface these days.

        The Avernum games are just…dull. There’s no sense of system mastery in building your characters or winning fights. Put your points in a boring skill tree that doesn’t even make sense, that’s about it.

      • malkav11 says:

        Having recently compared the first Exile and the most recent remake, I’m not sure I agree with the latter part of your statement. The original game definitely offers more options in combat, party build (and a larger party), etc. But in terms of getting to the interesting bits around narrative and exploration more easily? I don’t think that’s actually true. First of all, there is -dramatically- more story and reward for exploration in the remake. Secondly, it makes some changes to systems (largely removing them) that I’m sure some people miss, but that I personally feel were mostly impediments to getting to the interesting bits. Things like having to buy and consume food, identify items, and having to constantly wrangle with extremely limited inventory space were all present in the original Exile games and not the remake, and I for one surely don’t miss them.

        And while I -do- miss things like wall spells, I don’t feel like the end result is enough poorer to offset all the other improvements in the meantime.

        • Darloth says:

          Hmm. I admit… I’m mostly basing this comment on the FIRST remake, as the second had everything the first had and I couldn’t see anything new – so your comments about more story and such I can’t honestly answer for.

          Given that, I’m glad they added something. I will forever miss the things they took away.

          Food was annoying occasionally, but not much, and it added a nice clock to wilderness exploration and gave scope for the survival skills to have a continual effect as well as special case use. Identifying things… it was good and bad, but no worse than others in the genre. I can’t argue that limited inventory wasn’t just a gigantic pain, you’re right :)

          • malkav11 says:

            Both remakes added story and encounters and things. The first one took away quite a bit that I appreciated while not adding nearly as much but the second remake is almost entirely additive, FWIW.

    • Viral Frog says:

      I doubt I can really win you over, but I’ve played through most of the first Avernum and thoroughly enjoyed it. But at that time I was also on a huge turn-based RPG kick. Pretty much anything turn-based that was also an RPG was clicking with me at the time. It’s been years, so I can’t really give specifics. I just remember really enjoying the story and the combat. I’m the type that can easily forgive graphics and UI woes. The UI in these games isn’t exactly stellar, but it’s not the worst I’ve used.

    • joer says:

      Played some of them. They’re ok. Bland as all get out at times. But there are plenty of them and he keeps them coming. And the world building leads to interesting exploration.

    • malkav11 says:

      For what it’s worth, the first Exile/Avernum game is extremely sandboxy. There are overarching storylines but they’re slow to be revealed and you are left to your own devices for the majority of the game, just poking around and finding stuff to do and people to work for. If that’s not your cup of tea, almost any other Spiderweb game will offer more obvious major storylines and much more linear direction (though only the Avadon games are truly what I would describe as linear and even then, not precisely).

      Otherwise…I mean, if you don’t get satisfaction out of exploring, getting narrative encounters at a rapid pace, looting and crushing your enemies before you but at a one-man dev team scale in terms of design (there are a couple other people in the company but my understanding is that they don’t have much to do with the actual design, writing and coding), then you don’t.

      But for my tastes they’re some of the best RPGs on the market and always have been.

    • GeoX says:

      Spiderweb is a company I always struggle with. Because I always feel like they’re the kind of games I should like and the kind of games I want to like. But then I play them…and sometimes I actually find myself into them/addicted for a little while. But there’s always just this sneaking, pervasive sense of blandness, somehow. A certain sameyness. And I just end up vaguely disappointed.

      • syndrome says:

        So making products that people are supposed to like, but don’t actually have anything to be liked about them, is a viable business model these days?

        Basically, you pay other people for lying you so blatantly, yet so excellently, that you have no other option?

        *writing this interesting piece of information down*

        Hmm, well, this explains Star Citizen a lot.

        It’s a vicious circle, you know. People buying not what they like, but whatever they’re supposed to be liking. Very interesting, indeed.

        I think you have too much money on yourself. If you truly deserved it, you’d actually know what’s worth of paying, you’d know what is needed in this world the most, what needs the money and what doesn’t. But because you don’t expect others to be honest with their products, I can tell that you’re lying about your own products as well, whatever you do. And that’s not even the bottom line, as you actually believe in a world where everyone who has just enough, buys whatever.

        Here’s why: Every time you buy something that you don’t like, you basically celebrate having just enough money in your life so you could waste some. Perhaps in hopes that others will do the same for you and your services.

        Which means that you’re aware of how much better you are than most people in this world, which in turn makes you a morally ambigious person, to say the least. Thus, everything you said is a simplistic rationale for such a belief, to make yourself feel good about it.

        And what you’re basically saying is that it’s the game dev’s fault for not making YOUR decision the best of them all. IF they only made a game that is actually a quality product, your compulsive purchase would be much better decision in the hindsight. But you don’t regret your decisions, nor you believe there’s personal responsibility involved — by informing yourself about the recipients of your money or whether it was really necessary for you to fund them. No, you’re just making it go around.

        Because every penny you gave them, didn’t go to those who’d make something WE’D ALL ACTUALLY LIKE. So you’re an accomplice in the global anti-quality movement.

        Perfect, if you ask me. We now know whose fault this is, and who’s to blame for having a bullshit gaming scene. Not yours alone, of course, but you’ve definitely sponsored it.

        *writes this conclusion down*

    • Person of Interest says:

      I’ve only played Avadon (and only the first third, if that), and while I can’t say it won me over, I did really enjoy the story arc of the dragon.

      I think you start by hearing vague stories about the dragon while training in the capital. Then you travel to a village that’s been harassed by the dragon and you hear more testy/distressed perspectives. At the dragon’s lair, before you meet the dragon itself, you talk with the dragon’s jaded, unimpressed secretary while the dragon bellows murderous threats from offscreen.

      I don’t know what happens after that, but I’m glad I spent 10-15 hours in the game to get at least that far.

    • jomurph86 says:

      Win you over? Nah. If you don’t like em, you don’t like em.

      As for me… it’s my jam. Played through every single title the man has ever produced.

    • robotslave says:

      Jeff Vogel (the game’s designer/programmer) has spoken and written at length about how he’d love to do something different, but whenever he strays even one teensy little bit from the formula, his sales plummet.

      He’s never had the kind of break-out hit that would land him enough money to just experiment for a few years without worrying about paying the bills, it’s just been a steady trickle of adequate income for decades.

      I honestly can’t decide if it’s sad or admirable, but he’s entirely aware of the limitations of the games he makes.

    • RabbitIslandHermit says:

      I could never get into Avernum, back in the day Geneforge 3 blew my mind though.

    • InternetBatman says:

      The Avernum games have incredible exploration systems. There are many degrees of freedom, a lot of secret passages, and a lot of hidden treasures and weird places to find. There are three separate ways to “beat” the game, and you can find them at any time. The spell system, where you can find upgrades as loot, further incentivizes exploration.

      If you’re bored with the way the game seems to be sending you, don’t go that way. There are many other paths around the world of the game. I personally think the game is at its finest when you’re at lower levels, poking around in areas you don’t belong, with a fair degree of danger.

      I’ve only gotten that feeling from a couple other games, like Gothic, Stalker, and to a lesser extent Storm of Zehir. It’s a true sandbox, and plays like one.

  2. suibhne says:

    It might be hard to see at first, but these games really shine in two areas: complex and detailed world design, and top-notch encounter design for setpiece fights (surprisingly varied and strategic).

    • jeremyalexander says:

      I’ve played a healthy chunk of these games and would argue the exact opposite. These games combat encounters all play out exactly the same to the point they get mind numbingly repetitive and what world building? He’s used the same few world maps over and over with minor changes for decades. I can’t remember a single location by name in any of these games and I’ve played most of them. These are awful games from a game designer stuck in 1988 gear because nostalgia junkies keep paying him for the same experience over and over. Groundhogs day software.

      • jomurph86 says:

        @suibhne – I’m with you. I miss the extra level of combat complexity from Exile, but the fighting is still good stuff.

        But the exploration is where it’s at. Even though I’ve played through this world three times now, I still love entering the Castle for the first time. Flirting with Friendly Talking Spiders. Learning ridiculous spells from Erika. etc. Just can’t get enough of the world he’s made.

  3. jeremyalexander says:

    I don’t get the love for these games. I came up playing games like Ultima, but that was 30 years ago. The writing in Spiderweb games is childish and amateur, the game’s systems themselves would have been bad in the late 80’s and nothing needs to really be said over the presentation which hasn’t changed in decades. Basically this guy keeps repackaging the same game over and over and a bunch of neckbeards drunk on nostalgia keep paying his bills. It’s really sad. I suggested engine changes to him over 10 years ago and agreed to help him and he said how interesting he thought it was and I never heard from him again. He doesn’t care at all. He knows he can just retouch the map a little, change the story a little and you’ll buy it again. He’s now doing remakes of games in the same engine. Pathetic.

    • Guy Montag says:

      Given how quickly you seem able to jump to wild insults, I guess I can’t really blame him.

    • antszy says:

      Guy quietly makes games for loyal audience for over a decade…

      Better start hurling insults and getting pissy about it! Yehawwww, internet!

    • GeoX says:

      Really sad? Not just sad, but REALLY sad? If this is something you find “sad,” you must spend your life in a constant state of anhedonia.

    • jomurph86 says:

      Bitter.

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      teije says:

      That’s a truly hilarious story. Let me summarize.

      Guy makes games he likes using a technology and look he’s comfortable with and which many people enjoy.
      Random stranger offers unsolicited “help” to “improve”.
      Guy doesn’t change because he doesn’t want to.
      Random stranger’s feelings are hurt, so that 10 years later is still pissing on guy.

    • RabbitIslandHermit says:

      Um, what engine changes? Because it’s not like you can just swap engines and bam, everything’s modern.

    • syndrome says:

      such fanboism ….
      welp, I concur with you jeremy, you can find my opinion somewhere above.

      it’s not the game or its dev’s aspirations that I’d find _really_ sad. it’s the state of consciousness of these goddamn protectors of “quiet economy” and “loyal consumers”.

      it’ll change.

    • InternetBatman says:

      Yes, several games have been remade, but the writing certainly isn’t amateur. The different endings of Geneforge 5 show an interesting array of complexity in a tale of social conflict. The idea of mechanically corrupting power is especially interesting. And the exploration is top notch.

      I first played the Geneforge games 5 years ago, and was struck by the many ways they surpassed average RPGs from much larger companies.

      You’re allowed to personally not like things without it being an indictment on society.

  4. Ghostwise says:

    Neat. I enjoyed my playthrough of the first Avernum in remade version, and look forward completing the trilogy one day.

  5. Einsammler says:

    Before they send us

    To an early grave

    Alien beasts use

    Burma Shave

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