Avalon Code for the Nintendo DS is a game that I hate to review. On one hand the game attempts to do numerous mechanics differently then most RPGS yet all the new mechanics leave us with a very unrefined game.
Credit has to be given for the plot, in a time of war in the world the main character has been chosen to help rebuild the world after Armageddon. To do that he/she is given the book of prophecy, this holds a copy of everything worth saving in the world. Very rarely do we see stories in games revolve around the end of world and having the player’s job not to keep it from happening. The player has two aids in their quest, four spirits that reside in the book and of course the book itself. While each spirits mainly act as a powerful summoning similar to Final Fantasy the book is where you’ll be spending a lot of time.
The Book of Prophecy which takes up the entire bottom screen plays a major role in the game. Just about every piece of equipment, item, character, and enemy can be “code scan” giving you an entry in the book. Each entry gives you a description of the character, various stats related to it and more importantly the mental map of it. The mental map is where the “code” or DNA of the creature resides and this is where the real hook of Avalon Code is. You can basically alter the DNA of everything listed in the book, from weakening or strengthening enemies, to helping your friends. You’ll even get recipes to create stronger pieces of equipment requiring a certain combination of codes. You really have free reign here to mess around with everything which is great. Sadly the game’s biggest hook is also where the most problems reside.
After spending a few hours combing the pages I think I would have liked “The PDA of Prophecy” or perhaps the “I-Prof”. The index of the book does take you to the start of every section, but you’ll have to slowly turn the page on each section to hopefully find the listing you want. Code storage is another big deal; the designers decided that you can only hold 4 pieces of code at any time which means you’ll be spending a lot of time just moving code around just to make simple changes. Also each time you pick up a piece of code and add it to your stock you’ll lose some magic power which is just frustrating. There isn’t an easy way to find a piece of code you need which also requires a lengthy amount of time going through the pages for the elusive piece. The game also doesn’t explain what each code piece does so good like trying to determine the difference between the “fate” code and the “freedom” code. I did like how the more things scanned the book would leveled up giving you access to side quests and even increase the size of the mental map allowing you to alter everything further. Moving on, when you’re not searching the pages of the book you’ll be out in the field fighting.
Combat in Avalon Code is basically Zelda lite; you have an evasive roll and can equip any two weapons at once. Each weapon type has a special move associated with it and the more you use a type you’ll level up in that discipline improving the use of that type. Enemies constantly respawn which can make it hard to get around some of the maps. Being able to alter every enemy allows you to either focus on getting through areas or stay around to get experience for your weapons. Combat overall is adequate for the game but I did have a hard time hitting enemies with projectile attacks.
Overall I find my impression of the game mixed; there are a lot of just plain bad design decisions in Avalon Code. Yet I’ll admit that I find the whole concept very interesting which is keeping me going. The game is very unrefined which is a shame; I think my high degree of patience is what’s keeping me from putting this game down but even I’m finding that the mechanics are starting to wear thin. For people looking for a great, accessible RPG you are not going to find it with Avalon Code. There is a good game hidden somewhere, but you’ll have to dig deep to find it. I really hope that this game sells enough to warrant a sequel as the premise deserves another look at. Avalon Code for the Nintendo DS gets 4 Hope, 2 Ill, and 3 Dog because I don’t know what it means in game