Written by Ixarix; PSHG Team Writer
In my original review of Heavy Water’s Avalon Keep, I mentioned that one of the significant features of the space was Heavy Water’s commitment to updating the space frequently, by adding new features and new rewards to keep the space fresh. So when Heavy Water made good on their promise and updated the space this past Halloween, I was eager to see just what new features the space had to offer. How would it be different? How has it been improved since its initial release? What new areas have been opened up?
Turned out, this particular update was fairly significant and it proved just how committed Heavy Water was to Avalon Keep. The most significant new feature in this update is the new dungeon space, but there a few other features to the update that are worth mentioning.
One of the first things I noticed that was new in the space were the small coloured crystals scattered around. They reminded me of the rupees players collected in the Zelda games. Collecting these crystals results in gaining points, some of the crystals are located in the sky, so you will need your mechanical dragonfly to get those.
You can trade these crystal points with Barlow, a NPC that is located near the entrance to the castle. Barlow was present when the space was first released, but his function wasn’t clear then, now it is clear that he is the spaces trader. The crystals can be traded for new gifts that will become available in the spaces gift machine, you can gift these items to guests as well. In addition, there are also some owner items like a Wheel barrow and Feeder Elves. Further more, you can also donate points to the various houses. Each house has a specific community goal of approximately ten million points, lofty goals to be sure, but ones I’m sure that will be met in time. This could actually spur a bit of a competition on Home as the various houses in Avalon Keep compete to see which one reaches the goal first.
If you’ve just purchased the dungeon add-on from the store, you’ll likely be eager to check it out right away. But not so fast, Heavy Water has done something slightly sadistic, in order to actually gain access to the dungeon, you first have to complete a small quest and find the keys to the dungeon. To start the quest you need to talk to Gisele, the quest mistress in the space. She’ll send you on a scavenger hunt to find the keys.
This proved to be a rather challenging quest for me, since I had to use my dragonfly to find clues scattered around the space, usually they were very well hidden. So when I finally finished this quest, I was left with a real sense of accomplishment, that I had not just bought the dungeon, but that I had earned it. Then I descended to see my new dungeon.
There is a fair bit to the dungeon and it is clear that Heavy Water put just as much thought into it as they did the rest of the space. It isn’t free, but at a cost of just $3.99 I feel the dungeon is reasonably priced and enhances the Avalon Keep greatly.
When you arrive in this dungeon, you’ll find yourself in an anti-chamber outside the main hall. Here you will find a tomb with an inscription dedicated to one of your illustrious predecessors. The inscription describes how a portion of her crystal blade was laid to rest alongside her. I didn’t find this in the current update, so perhaps this is hinting at something we can look forward to in a future update.
The crypt itself is dank and grim-looking, with water dripping from the ceiling in puddles on the floor that are scattered around the space. Just like the rest of the space you will find three NPC characters in the dungeon as well. A guard by the entrance to this space, a dungeon keeper by the pool and Beatrix, who is the equivalent of Evelyn upstairs.
She allows you to switch the space between its two modes. The Avalon mode, which is indicated by the crystal choice in her menu and the Dungeon mode indicated by the hanging cage.
If you choose the Avalon mode, you get a message saying “The dungeon now has taken on a mystical sense to it…” and the merry medieval music you hear in the rest of Avalon Keep will begin to play in the dungeon. In this mode, when you enter the main chamber you’ll see water pouring down from above into a water pool on the dais. The alcoves that line the main space are draped in colours associated with whatever household you’ve choose to aligned with upstairs. Be it the default purple of Avalon, or one of the other colour combinations associated with the other households. In Avalon mode, I envision this space as the workshop of some benevolent magician, or craftsman, working away for the betterment of the kingdom.
The other mode, Dungeon mode is fun to. When you switch to it you get a message saying “the dungeon feels a bit spookier…” and indeed , the music changes instantly and a pipe organ can be heard playing Toccata and Fugue in d minor by J.S. Bach, one of my favorite pieces of music. It definitely gives the space a seemingly creepy feel to it, and I’m glad Heavy Water actually included the full piece in the space instead of just a few phrases. However, since almost all of Bach music, including this one, is directed towards the glorification of God, I felt it’s presence in this space was a bit of misstep on Heavy Water’s part. A more apt choice might have been Night on Bald Mountain by Modest Mussorgsky.
That being said, I really do like the sinister atmosphere the torture chamber takes on. The surface of the water in the dais changes, it seems not just to bubble, but to wraith, as if something massive is lurking just below the surface. When you approach it you get a prompt telling you to “Feed the Creature.” If you talk to the masked dungeon master named Vladimir standing next to the pool he will tell you the beast is indeed ravenous. “If you could speak to Barlow, I’m sure he could part with some…appropriate food for it.” The food turns out to be the Feeder Gnomes you can purchase for about 100 points a piece. I like the inclusion of this little bit of dark humor into this space, so much so that I found myself collecting crystals and visiting Barlow regularly just so I could have the pleasure of tossing a Feeder Gnome to the creature.
Seems I’ve grown fond of the creature, perhaps I will name it George.
Also in this mode, surrounding the room, where there were draperies in Avalon mode, there are now dungeon cells with small imps and demons imprisoned in them.
Suspended from the ceiling are iron cages with the remains of people who met with the rulers displeasure.
One last feature I’d like to point out about the dungeon is a lever connected to a pipe that is located in the rear of this space. If you pull this lever, it will switch the pool of water to a pit of fire.
I really love the effect Heavy water created for this, the fire appears in a puff of smoke, then when you pull the lever again, it switches and water pours down from above and a blast of steam rises from the pit.
Both of these transitions I thought were quite spectacular, I loved seeing them in person, especially for the first time. This is only available in Avalon mode in the dungeon, I discovered you can’t use it while the space is in dungeon mode. Which is probably for the best, George would wind up getting cooked, then there would be a big pot of turtle soup stewing in the Avalon dungeon.
The dungeon is surprisingly easy to decorate given the amount of torture chamber memorabilia people have collected over the years on Home. Heck, if you’ve spent any time at the midway, your likely to have the making of a fine torture chamber tucked away a midst you items.
Avalon Keep was a great space to begin with. The updates that have been added have taken a great space and made it even better. If every developer on Home applied the level of commitment that Heavy Water has demonstrated in caring for this space, Home would indeed be a awesome place. Personally, I think Avalon Keep is one of the best spaces to be released on Home, and is a strong candidate for best personal space of the year, if they release any more updates before the end of the year, it will be a slam dunk for best space of 2012.
If your interested, you can read the full review of the space HERE: http://pshomegazette.com/2012/08/19/avalons-a-keeper/
For a list of all the furniture and reward items, click HERE: http://pshomegazette.com/2012/08/25/avalon-keep-furniture-items-and-rewards/