You never know what might happen with Kickstarter games. Will they actually ever be made? What happens when one doesn’t meet its goals? Tears of Avia, from CooCooSqueaky Games, is something of a best case scenario. It didn’t meet its funding goal, but the developer turned to Patreon and committed to making it happen. While the finished game isn’t amazing, you can tell this is a situation where the developer tried, and part of that comes from seeing the attempt to give people control over their experience.
It all begins with how Tears of Avia starts. While the basic story remains largely unchanged based on your choice of main character, there’s an attempt to offer a bit of variety by allowing you to choose your avatar. Kai the warrior, Iris the mage, Momoko the priest, Raul the brawler, and Reina the ranger are all available as choices. While the Hardcore mode does make things actually challenging, a good course of action is to go with someone who has the potential to be heavy damage dealer, as this person becomes a critical character for you. Iris, Raul, and Reina and are all very helpful in that regard. (Since the first ally is Alfren, a warrior like Kai, he might not be an ideal first pick. Though, in general, all five can be practical.)
Each character has their own ways they can be shaped as well. The people you collect and recruit have three areas you can build up. So say you pick Kai. Kai has Arms, Might, and Tactics trees. When he levels up, you can apply points to unlock and improve skills. Might will increase his offensive capabilities, with the early Warriors Might increasing how much damage he’ll do. If you instead went with Defensive Stance, then Kai’s would take half as much damage for a time. Arms could do things like add buffs or improve characters’ proficiency with weapons. So Empower could be a buff that lets you do 50% more damage. While there are a limited number of classes (five), you have different characters and can go for different builds for your potential party of five.
This is also a game with some elements where having certain people around can change the experience slightly. When you’re in a hub area, you can talk to the other people in your party. Most dialogue options aren’t terribly innovative, however. You might ask about their background or remove them from the party. You could also talk about current in-game events, which adds a little flavor text and gives you a sense of their personality. There are also occasional moments where you will make decisions that can slightly change the ending.
Tears of Avia isn’t revolutionary. Its normal mode is incredibly easy and forgiving. It looks a bit dated. But the ability to make some choices that can alter your party composition, determine how their builds look, choose who your protagonist is, speak to allies and even make some decisions make it feel like there was some effort put into doing something more. At least you have the sense that the people behind it tried and, with the regular patches, that the team behind it is still trying.
Tears of Avia is available for the Xbox One and PC.