You might claim the only good thing about avocado is smashing it up and whacking it on a slice of toast. But you might think differently on spending time with Avo! This sort-of game features a piece of sentient fruit, a teenage scientist, a nefarious evil villain out to ruin her plans, and an awful lot of jelly beans.
In play, Avo! is effectively a slice of interactive telly – more specifically, an interactive slice of children’s TV. That might put you off, but only if you have the cynical heart of a grumpy gamer who can’t stomach the thought of any entertainment that doesn’t involve guns, guns, and more guns.
If you like Pixar, still have a soft spot for Morph, and yell EVERYTHING IS AWESOME on thinking about The Lego Movie, there might be a place on your device for Avo!
A little bit tasty
The story’s background centres on scientist Billie, and her Bring Fruit to Life machine, which worked precisely once, resulting in our green-skinned hero. As a freelance scientist, she’s out to save the world, after first saving her lab from being cut off by the power company – a task you assist in by directing Avo’s movements.
In tried-and-tested line-drawing style, you draw paths for Avo to dodder along. Strings of jelly beans point you towards targets, rather than you ambling about aimlessly. Now and again, you’ll chance across bonus content – usually a video snippet of Billie adding to the story or telling a chucklesome science joke.
It’s all kind of nothingy as a game, and yet surprisingly engaging as an experience. Much of this is down to the seamless way Avo blends into the surroundings, Katy Reece’s unflinchingly convincing performance as Billie, and a great script by Ryan North and Gemma Arrowsmith.
Will Avo guac your world?
Unless you’re a youngling, it’s in the details you’ll find most value. There are subtly joyful moments, like Avo’s footstep sound effects changing, depending on what’s being walked over – desks; sand; computer keyboards. But the world’s also packed full of tiny details.
There’s Billie’s thesis, Avoconsciousness: a practical study of fruit and free will, and a box in the background marked ‘The best parts of Wikipedia (in case the internet gets cut off). I grinned on Billie firing up a teleporter and saying “we’ll be able to beam wherever we want – with only minimal extreme danger”, and groaned on spotting a Polaroid stating that as a teenager, Avo “began to smell ripe”.
Heart of stone
However, there’s no getting away from Avo! being a fleeting experience. Even if you pore over the details, it’s done in a couple of hours, and that might feel slight for the six quid required to unlock all of the episodes.
The game also misses a trick in terms of replay value – going back to find missed bonus content feels like a chore, given that you can’t skip videos you’ve already watched. And even the bundled AR experiment that features Avo on your desk, while endearing, won’t hold your attention for long, due to its tiny handful of actions.
Or perhaps I’m just being too cynical; after all, my kid would happily watch a single episode of Paw Patrol on repeat until the heat death of the universe. And even for this jaded old hack, Avo! was enough to raise a smile – and keep it there for the duration of the fruity hero’s journey.
Avo! is available for iOS.