Ravenlok is the third recreation in developer Cococucumber’s self-described voxel trilogy, a collection that’s largely unconnected apart from its strikingly boxy visible model and some characters. Launching straight onto Game Pass, Ravenlok is an action-adventure aimed youthful avid gamers and informal gamers who need one thing gentle and breezy. It’s the gaming equal of a bedtime story.
You play as Lily, a younger lady busy exploring the home that her Grandmother left to her mother and father out in some unidentified rural haven. However within the barn a secret lurks, a mirror that drags Lily into one other world dominated by an evil queen that has cursed the land. In each nook and cranny, in each teapot and teacup, you’ll discover C.S Lewis’ Alice in Wonderland. Ravenlok is closely impressed by the traditional story of Alice’s tumble into the rabbit gap, from its evil Queen guarded by card troopers to the Mad Hatter internet hosting a tea social gathering. Like Alice herself, Lily has fallen right into a world the place the standard guidelines don’t appear to use, the place one thing unusual and great lurks behind each nook.
In true fantasy model, Lily is the hero of this fable, taking on defend and sword because the prophesised Ravenlok who will slay the Queen and save the realm. Alongside the way in which, she’ll make buddies with a white rabbit, free the soot bunnies, assist out a witch and perhaps even be again in time for dinner. All of this takes place in a beautiful, vibrant world constructed of tiny cubes that give Ravenlok a placing aesthetic. Whereas the degrees you wander via should not huge, they’re splendidly realised home windows right into a fantasy world that I’d like to see extra of, however alas Ravenlok solely supplies the smallest of glimpses. Using voxels is attention-grabbing as a result of from a distance you possibly can’t inform that every little thing is fabricated from squares. It’s not till you look carefully that you just discover how every little thing is constructed from hundreds of cubes to create Ravenlok’s beautiful visuals.
The story is straightforward and charming, advised fully via textual content bins. Whereas this implies there isn’t a lot depth to the story or to the characters, the simplicity is great for youthful avid gamers who most likely don’t need to spend a lot time studying via a novel’s price of wordy waste. The most important disgrace of the minimal storytelling is that the sport references Lily’s bond to the varied fairytale creatures she encounters with out ever actually exhibiting it. At one level she refers to all of them as ‘family’ and but she’s solely exchanged a number of sentences with them, and people had been principally expositional.
That drawback extends to Lily herself. She has no character, no actual motivations for doing what she’s doing. She doesn’t even seem like fazed that she has been pulled into a totally alien and fantastical world, or that she is now busy slicing via a number of hundred enemies. I’m not saying she must be wracked with guilt or one thing, however some kind of response can be good.
I need to be clear, although – I don’t suppose this can be a enormous concern. Ravenlok is extra of a kids’s fairy story, one which doesn’t need to get in the way in which of truly taking part in it. Contemplating that is geared toward youthful avid gamers or extra informal gamers the choice to give attention to retaining folks within the recreation is comprehensible, and youngsters’s storybooks sometimes don’t spend plenty of time crafting deep characters and tales.
Most of what you’ll be doing exploring the small ranges with a purpose to discover vital gadgets. It’s a traditional piece of videogame design, actually: the gate to the Queen is locked and the one approach to open it’s to seek out three particular keys scattered internationally. So as to discover these, you could assist out the inhabitants, normally by doing a number of fetch quests after which duking it out in a boss struggle, like preventing Tweedle Dee and Tweedle Dum. Should you’ve ever performed a videogame in your life, it’s fairly acquainted stuff.
Within the overview information despatched with the sport, the builders point out eager to make Ravenlok’s fight accessible to everybody, they usually’ve definitely executed that. There’s a single assault button that makes Lily swipe her sword backward and forward at a pace which might make Tinder customers jealous. This will get augmented by 4 particular skills which can be progressively unlocked over the 3-5 hours journey, and these do issues like hurling some balls of frost that routinely monitor targets or a flurry of sword swings which can be excellent for giant teams of foes which you’ll typically encounter.
On the defensive aspect of issues, you get two choices for retaining Lily protected: a primary block and a swift dodge. Each have their makes use of however I admit to discovering the block largely ineffective all through the sport and relied much more on the dodge. The explanation for that is that Lily’s sword assault additionally interrupts enemies, so it’s fairly simple to maintain even giant mobs in test by swiping like mad and dashing round. Second, many of the assaults that the boss monsters hurl your approach are higher dodged than blocked.
Should you’ve learn via the final couple of paragraphs and are available to the conclusion that fight sounds easy, you’d be proper. The hardcore gamer in me desires to scold the builders for the way primary fights are in Ravenlok, however I must maintain that half in test as a result of the criticism simply isn’t very reasonable. In the identical overview information I discussed earlier, Cococucumber speaks about how “special consideration” was given to youthful video games who had graduated from Riverbond, considered one of their earlier video games. As somebody who has been taking part in video games for one thing like 25 years, it may be onerous to place myself again into the mindset of somebody who hasn’t spent dozens of hours taking part in Satan Might Cry, so I did the following neatest thing and handed the sport to my niece, who’s 9 years outdated. She discovered the fight to be enjoyable and loved attending to slice up heaps of dangerous guys, and the abilities added only a contact of depth for her.
The enemy AI is slightly unusual as a result of in the event you ignore them and run via areas, they received’t react. I can’t fairly determine if this can be a mistake or a deliberate design determination. It definitely makes backtracking less complicated since you possibly can simply decide out of preventing, and even when a number of of them do react to your presence they’re approach too sluggish to catch up. This might have been executed to cease the simplistic fight from changing into too repetitive. Or the enemy AI is dumber than a hedgehog on heroin.
Talking of dumb, there are a number of “stealth” sections within the recreation. I actually need you to think about air quotes dropping closely across the phrase stealth, there, as a result of enemies can’t truly spot you, per se. It’s attainable to face in entrance of them and it received’t depend as being caught. No, the one approach to fail is to fairly actually contact them. Once more, this retains it easy for teenagers for informal gamers, however it may possibly additionally really feel like a bug somewhat than a part of the sport, virtually as if any individual forgot to program a cone of imaginative and prescient into the enemies.
Fallen foes will drop a forex that you may hand over to a particular character to degree up, rising your total well being and injury. On this approach, the sport has a barely customisable problem as a result of in the event you overlook to degree up then enemies will begin to take longer to defeat. In principle, then, you can keep away from levelling altogether as much as make Ravenlok more difficult, though I believe that’s a foul possibility as a result of enemies change into strolling injury sponges.
There are a number of puzzles sprinkled all through the sport, too, simply easy little mind teasers to assist break up the fight. These are sometimes a case of discovering a number of symbols hidden across the space or counting statues with a purpose to enter a code. Once more, for an skilled gamer, it’s all fairly commonplace stuff however for youthful followers I believe they’re properly judged diversions.
All through the varied locales, you’ll stumble throughout optionally available side-quests, and I like that the sport doesn’t attempt to provide grand rewards for them. In return for locating some teacups, scouring the world for collectible figurines or partaking in a mini-boss struggle your reward is normally a nifty hat or a number of well being potions or a little bit of coin that you need to use within the store to purchase some bombs. However in any other case, they are surely utterly optionally available.
Navigating mentioned locales generally is a little troublesome as a result of restrictive digicam. Though not utterly locked into place, you’ve gotten minimal management of the place you’re trying. You can’t, for instance, spin the digicam all the way in which round. That may sometimes make discovering issues hidden within the setting slightly awkward as a result of it’s important to blindly stumble towards the digicam so that it’s going to shift. It bugged me slightly, and on a few events resulted in me being unable to see or operating headfirst into enemies I couldn’t see.
There’s an old-school design vibe to Ravenlok that I actually recognize. The button-mashy preventing, the mounted digicam views and the easy storytelling took me again to my days on the PS1, particularly the sound the little textual content bins make once they pop up.
Ravenlok delights in its straightforwardness. It’s not making an attempt to be an epic triple-A journey or a deeply significant story of morality. As an alternative, it’s content material to be an enthralling little gem that’s nice for youthful avid gamers or anybody simply on the lookout for some stress-free, relaxed gaming. Supplied you perceive what you’re leaping into, Ravenlok will likely be a pleasing and cozy approach to spend 3 or 4 hours hacking via a bunch of brain-dead foes and admiring the colourful panorama.