Ravenlok is the latest indie title to hit Microsoft’s Xbox Game Pass library. As such, subscribers can get their hands on this fairytale-inspired game for absolutely nothing. Now, I’m not here to discuss the value of this amazing service. Instead, I can’t wait to tell you about this interesting pixelated adventure.
Inspired by Through the Looking Glass, this often surreal experience incorporates some zany characters, weird locations, and well-trodden mechanics. Moreover, it has plenty of combat moments, and it follows a mainly linear plot. However, there is a smattering of side quests to pad out the content and distract you.
Developed and published by Cococucumber, this is a fantasy adventure title. What’s more, it has a touching plot, plenty of magic, and some riddles and puzzles to solve. Yet, it is pretty easy and fans of hardcore experiences will find this a bit of a cakewalk. Consequently, it’s not the longest game I’ve played, and that was disappointing.
Ravenlok is a familiar affair.
Though the Looking Glass and Alice in Wonderland have always entertained me. Accordingly, Ravenlok’s obsession with the core ideas made me giddy with excitement. Furthermore, the developer’s use of creative licence and the stunning fantasy settings were incredible to explore.
You control a young girl whose family has moved to the countryside. After her parents inherited her grandmother’s house, her life was uprooted. Bored, and with nothing to do, she explores an old barn. Here, a magic mirror transports her to a fairytale land and her fate is revealed. Hailed by the locals as the hero “Ravenlok”, she must defeat the Queen and lift the curse that grips the kingdom.
A trilogy of gargantuan beasts.
The action is split across 3 distinct locations. Each area contains key protagonists from Through the Looking Glass and an array of never before seen individuals. By helping these characters and undertaking a range of quests, you’ll unlock new abilities, interact with friendly creatures, and battle an endless stream of monsters. Moreover, there are many bosses, collectables, and wave after wave of creatures to destroy.
Alongside this, Ravenlok has an unhealthy obsession with straightforward fights, fetch quests, and simple levelling up. Each of these elements undermines your journey and makes things far too easy. For example, every monster drops gold and feathers. The latter resource is used to upgrade the hero. However, the requirements to do so are mind-numbingly low and make the hero unbelievably powerful.
The gold, on the other hand, is used to buy potions. Now, this isn’t a bad thing, but as there is nothing else to purchase, you are left with masses of health potions and bombs. Subsequently, you never die, and your foes are annihilated as you throw acid and fire into their faces.
So many quests.
Ravenlok isn’t stingy with its action! As such, you roll from one quest to another as you defeat monsters, gather items, and collect 3 trinkets. En route, the hero unlocks 4 skills that make her an ungodly powerhouse. Consequently, every monster melts away as her magic sword and fire spells smash everything in sight.
The combat issues to one side, the developers created a fun and interesting fast travel system. Every key area has a magic mirror that can be activated. Whether in the Mushroom forest, a Hydra den, or the Queen’s palace, you can move around seamlessly. This was a great idea as many of the side quests pull you all over the place. As such, it would have been tedious if you had to walk back and forth repeatedly.
Ravenlok delivers a stunning fantasy world.
The simple and repetitive action may not have floated my boat. However, visually, it is phenomenal. The Voxel art style and the rich colours are incredible to observe. Moreover, the excellent animation, lush sprites, and varied backdrops are amazing. As such, I never tired of exploring each location and was amazed by the interesting twists on a much-loved fairytale.
The fantasy theme is complemented by the fun and folksy audio. With whimsy songs, sombe tunes, and some dramatic moments, the music supports the free-flowing story. What was disappointing, though, was the underwhelming sound effects. For unknown reasons, the noise of a breaking vase is associated with every non-monster strike. Whether it was a table, tree, or toadstool, they all sounded the same.
Hack ‘n slash your way to victory.
Unlike its peers, Ravenlok doesn’t demand a high level of skill. With masses of monsters but low levels of risk, you simply hack your way to victory. However, occasionally, you will use the dodge mechanic to evade a boss’s main attack. The simplicity undermines each battle and will annoy veteran gamers. I wish Cococucumber had created a difficulty option as this would have removed this issue.
Unfortunately, this isn’t long enough. Around 5 hours will get you through the body of the game and that was disappointing. Yes, there are collectables to find, but these add little to the action. What was great, though, were the interesting puzzles and riddles. These slower elements added some difficulty while breaking up the never-ending fights.
Ravenlok is good, but it needed more.
My review seems negative. Yet, I struggled to put this down, and I thoroughly enjoyed it. However, I wanted it to evolve and challenge me. Unfortunately, this never happened as it relied on familiar mechanics, even though the plot was insane. Accordingly, I still recommend it despite its shortcomings! Can you become a here? Grab your sword and shield, collect the trinkets, and defeat the Queen.