Ravenlok Review – An Entry-Level Adventure
Release Date: May 3, 2023
Reviewed On: Xbox Series X
Genre: Action RPG
The hack-and-slash adventure genre has seen some huge steps forward over the years, but there are times when all of the modern systems become overwhelming, especially for those new to the genre or even younger audiences. I believe that’s where developer Cococucumber excels. Being the third voxel 3D title from the team, Ravenlok takes on an entirely new genre but retains a sense of entry-level game design across a coming-of-age quest.
Ravenlok introduces a namable protagonist, but for most of the game, she is referred to as simply Ravenlok. The game’s opening presents a familiar scene ripped straight out of the ’80s and early ’90s teen films where a character who grew up in the city has to move to the country with her family, leaving her friends behind to start over. It’s an excellent beginning to a story that doesn’t shy away from its references, no matter how cliche they may be.
Further, this opening introduces the main gameplay element of collecting and delivering items. Yes, for most of the game, you’ll take on quests to gather items and deliver them to a requester. Unfortunately, this opening also introduces a reoccurring issue where items are difficult to find, and there’s no hint system. Within the first 15 minutes, I spent way too long searching for a cloth to wipe a mirror when the game could have simply had a thought bubble saying, “Maybe I should look in the house.” Which would have narrowed down my search.
After wiping the mirror down, the adventure begins as Ravenlok is pulled into a fairy tale world resembling Alice in Wonderland. Upon arrival, she’s immediately told that she’s the chosen one and must fight the Queen. So, without hesitation, Ravenlok sets out. As a character, Ravenlok doesn’t really question her quest. She just seems excited to be doing something. This highlights her youthful nature, which will likely be the core audience of those playing.
Every interaction is straightforward and to the point. There’s no heavy lore or backstory that you need to worry about. And although the story ties into Ravenlok’s real life in some ways, this game is mainly about going on an adventure, reminiscent of films such as The Pagemaster. As a result, you meet several characters who retain no significant staying power to the overall plot. However, they still manage to make an impact with their fantasy design and questlines.
Throughout your adventure, your main goal is to fight the Queen, which requires you to unlock a gate leading to her castle. Mostly every character you speak with will ask for an item or two, which will then provide you with another item that can be helpful in battle or help you progress. However, this design becomes repetitive since this is all you do outside combat. It’s kind of like a point-and-click adventure where each item helps you progress somehow, so just collect everything you see.
One strange system shows the most recent quest on the screen, but after pressing all the buttons, I couldn’t remove it from the HUD. Further, some memory is required at some points as you need to deliver these items, and there’s no map to tell you where everyone is. The questline will say to deliver the item to a specific character but doesn’t tell you where they’re located.
The action mechanics are where the experience falters. Ravenlok is an action game to the lowest degree. They’ve removed elements such as a stamina meter, jumping, and light and strong attacks. This defines the experience as an entry-level action game, given that you will rarely encounter any challenge.
Without a stamina meter, you can spam the dash action, which doesn’t have any i-frames, from my understanding, and smash the attack button until an enemy dies. What’s worse is that enemies won’t react to you until you’re in front of them, and you can stun-lock any and all enemies by quickly slashing at them.
The bosses mirror this experience as you’re placed in an arena-type field to take down a large boss. However, by slashing them constantly and utilizing the specials you acquire, which each have a cool down, you can stun lock them as well, chipping away at their HP until they are defeated. One boss that I had high hopes for was a hydra, but the entire fight comprised only one attack pattern, which was very disappointing.
There’s little fanfare for your accomplishments in the game, but I applaud Ravenlok’s eagerness to push through. She’s always excited to offer assistance and often speaks her mind to these fantasy creatures, which kept me engaged throughout the entire experience. Weapons can be upgraded with collected feathers, which are the only materials in the game aside from coins. However, even this is pretty bare bones, as I had a level 9 sword in about 2 hours of gameplay.
Visually, I find Ravenlok to be one of the prettiest games from this team. It rivals Echo Generation through its use of colors and fantasy elements. In addition, the various locales are fun to explore, even after frustration sets in when you can’t find an item.
Collectibles such as hats and cats can also be found to encourage you to look everywhere. The soundtrack is actually really good in this game. Some songs didn’t totally fit the environments, but I enjoyed them all.
Ravenlok is a surface-level action experience but a memorable fantasy adventure. It does its best to balance these genres for seasoned gamers to appreciate, but the target audience will likely be younger players. That’s not to say I didn’t find beauty in this fairy tale. The characters and world design leave a lasting impression making this a great way to cap off the Voxel Trilogy.
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