Sponsored Feature: Reviving A Classic With Avernum: Escape From the Pit HD
High-definition remakes are a dime a dozen these days.
Guilty pleasures, these HD revamps have their sights set on our nostalgic weaknesses, dragging us by the wallet to revisit our gaming pasts for better or for worse.
When Spiderweb Software's Jeff Vogel decided it was time to bring the well-aged PC hit Exile: Escape From the Pit to a new generation, a soulless, quicky cash-in was not an option.
"I redid everything," Vogel says.
"There is not a single item, line of text, or design element that was not evaluated and redone. It involved about as much work and writing as a whole new game would entail, and it feels like a new game. There's a lot of labour of love in there."
Escape From the Pit HD is the first chapter in Avernum's long-running saga spanning multiple games. The original itself made quite a name for itself among PC gamers in 1995.
"We have written a lot of games that have gone over very well, but nothing we've done has ever matched the Avernum series in sales, critical acclaim, or fan love," Vogel explains.
"People have really taken to this world and this story."
It's an adventure of hardship. Avernum is a bleak world ravaged by a tyrannical empire, and in its opening scenes you'll explore the depths of Fort Avernum searching for the route to the surface.
Avernum: Escape From the Pit HD is a role-playing game with all the retro trimmings. It's a dungeon-crawler that wears its heart on its sleeve.
You set off as a group of four wanderers casting spells and chugging potions, with the game mixing turn-based combat with action point-fuelled fare.
For those venturing back into the depths of Fort Avernum, escaping this dank underground prison should prove to be a somewhat familiar experience on iOS. Albeit with the gameplay turned up a fair few notches.
"It's a better interface, a bigger world, a richer plot. More cities, more dialogue, more quests. Everything was redone from the ground up. Spiderweb Software make indie, retro games with a cool old skool look. We love the icon-based appearance, but we re-rendered everything to add shadows, anti-aliasing, and little details to make it look nice."
It's also a rather hefty quest. There are 80 towns and dungeons to visit; three unique paths to take (bolstered by generous helpings of side-quests); magical items; and character traits to experiment with.
"It's a great RPG. It's huge, it's deep, it's fun, it's frequently very funny, and the land of Avernum has made countless gamers happy in the past fifteen years."
RPGs have undergone a metamorphosis since Exile: Escape From the Pit first graced our PCs. The retro stylings of Spiderweb Software's series have been replaced by monstrous epics with budgets that send your jaw southwards.
But, are these 'retro RPGs' set for a resurgence? According to Vogel, the uprising has already begun.
"There are tons of great indie role-playing games out now, and more coming out all the time. The AAA publishers have mostly stepped away from making old skool RPGs, and the indies have really picked up the slack."
Vogel cites Gaslamp Games's Dungeons of Dredmor and the upcoming iPad adaption of Baldur's Gate as examples of retro RPGs that have found new homes ideally suited for them, but he reckons this remastered version of his most beloved title might be the best place to start.
"We have put in the long hours to modernise it, while at the same time keeping the elements that made people love it before.
"If you like the idea of picking up a spear, hunting down monsters, and taking their stuff, Avernum: Escape From the Pit HD will give you a ton of playtime for your money."