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Avarice: The Final Saga
Review by Al Giovetti
Price: $70
Genre: virtual reality adventure mystery game
Release: August 24, 1996
Publisher: Stardock Systems
Website: www.stardock.com
Requirements: OS/2 Warp 3.0 of later, 486 DX, 8 MB RAM (Pentium and 16 MB of RAM recommended)

History: Last year an Avarace playable demo was released as a prequel. The prequel had a different plot than the actual game with different puzzles.

Genre: Like Myst. Eye candy that you move around and through.

Conversations: Talk like in the real world without conversation trees. You can literally do anything with the other characters. Talk to them about other players, ask for help about the mansion, and even kill them if the urge to kill is one which you cannot resist. However, we are unsure of the consequences of killing non-violent player characters, innocents as it were. There should be dire consequences for killing innocents.

Interface: The true three-dimensional world will give full access to all locations for exploration and character interaction.

Puzzles: Many of the puzzles in Avarace are of the treasure hunt type. Aparently the developers of the game are ignorant of the history of these types of puzzles. In the beginning, adventure games with objects to collect into an inventory, had many items which had nothing to do with the plot. In the game you would carry these objects around. These objects were annoying to sort through.

When people desired to make the game more like real life the items were given weight, so that you only could carry a certain amount of the items. Another trick was to give you a limited amount of spaces to put the items. You were required to keep track of all the items you encountered which you did not have space or strength to carry. This was another annoying feature.

Carrying the items around became a real pain. If you remembered an item you needed early in the game and you were not astute to pick it up then, you were required to walk all the way back to the beginning of the game to get the item, which took an annoying amount of time and effort. In some games the essential item or location was now lost to you and you were required to start the game over from the beginning. Repeated frustrations of this type were found to discourage game players from playing and buying the game.

The computer game gods came to the rescue and eliminated most red herring items save for their humorous value. Game inventory items became intelligent. They disappeared when they were used or no longer useful to the character. Items needed could be found in alternative locations, near the location where they would be needed for the solution of the puzzle. And infinite, weightless inventories returned to the delight of all who hated to re-trace their steps in the maze-like corridors of games.

Now along comes Stardock and they have this great idea. Lets put lots of things into the game that can perform a function to solve a puzzle, and lets also have lots of objects that can solve the puzzle in different ways. But more important, Stardock wants to add items that fullfill no function, just like in real life. Stardock wants to add a lot of items that you will have to carry around and may or may not solve the puzzles. Items that will clutter up your inventory making it difficult to decide what to keep and difficult to find what to use. An endless stream of items that must be tested one at a time until one works. And of course the cycle begins again. "Those who fail to study history, are doomed to repeat the mistakes of history."

Objects in Avarace are not immutable, they will burn, melt, smash and otherwise deform to become worthless and perhaps even do things the designers never intended. Everything in the game can be acted upon, examined, moved, and changed since everything in the game "exists" within the three dimensional world as objects.

Scott Udell, Computer Games Strategy Plus, issue 70, September, 1996, pg. 23.