Ravenlok Review (Xbox One, Xbox Series X/S, PC)
In any fairytale-themed game, expect nothing else than beating the odds and becoming the unlikely hero. This is the enthralling premise behind Cococumber's action RPG, Ravenlok. The indie studio is not new to the gaming scene. Cococucumber is well-known for its turn-based action combat, Echo Generation (a massive success), Riverbond, and Planet of the Eyes.
At first glance, Ravenlok triggers nostalgia for its similar elements to “Alice in Wonderland.” If you're familiar with the tale, two seconds are enough to pinpoint the similarity. Although we don't see the mad hatter (sigh), the inseparable twins Tweedledum and Tweedledee, the knights made of cards, the court jesters, and the white rabbit make the journey through Wonderland worthwhile.
Moreover, the game sticks to the narrative of saving outlandish creatures from the evil queen. Undeniably, Ravenlok is a bold take on the Alice in Wonderland story, given that we haven't experienced one in years.
So does Ravenlok succeed in reimagining Alice's quest, or should we stick to the storybooks? Here is Ravenlok review to help you find out whether this game is worth your time and dime.
A Bizarre Journey
Ravenlok's tale is a sniff away from being two halves of a whole, like the quintessential Alice in Wonderland fairy tale. The story starts with a young girl, Kira, and her parents. The family inherits an estate from a relative who reportedly went missing, then takes a leap of faith and moves into the house. With childhood curiosity whispering in her ear, Kira tours the place and stumbles on a mirror that transports her to the magical realm of Dunia.
On arrival, Kira finds Finn, the game's White Rabbit, who informs her she is the liberator known as Ravenlok. Simply put, she is to relieve the magical realm from the tyrannical reign of the caterpillar and restore normalcy to the magical world. To do so, she needs to locate three unique relics. With no questions asked, Kira accepts her new fate and sets off under the guidance of the White Rabbit.
What's a bit comical is that Kira agrees to take up the quest, no questions asked. Her nescient mind relied on Finn, a talking rabbit she just met. In the modern world, this would be handled differently.
But, the game portrays Kira as a symbol of innocence in this fictional world. As a child, Kira is driven by her state of purity, simplicity, and naivety. The game, once again, draws parallels to the fairy tale with the theme of childhood.
Ravenlok's gameplay reveals that it's an entry-level masterpiece that requires little mastering. Once you arrive in the magical world, you'll receive a sword and shield, your ultimate protection against the ravaging mythical beasts. You'll work through the challenging bosses to the final duel with the monarchy using a simple hack-and-slash maneuver. Many of the skills you gain, you learn as you move. For instance, you can dash attacks or block them using your shield.
Moreover, being in a mythical realm calls for some magic. Over time, you'll charge up your magical prowess, which helps you launch a barrage of projectiles. Alternatively, you may use your mystic powers for a boosted dash.
It's effortless to master the techniques. More so since the entire game runs for about 2–3 hours. Imagine if the combat techniques were rather challenging to learn, only for you to wind up the game before your coffee cup goes empty. It takes away the satisfaction of putting in the work to master the skills.
Furthermore, you'll also encounter puzzles during your journey. Worry not; they're not the head-scratching kind. The game gives you clues to solve the puzzles within its environment. This calls for a keen and watchful eye to spot them. Although the puzzles may slow you down on your quest, you don't have to worry about racking your brain to solve them.
A Pokémon Crossover?
Aside from the simple gameplay, Ravenlok spruces things up with a collection of collectibles. The game's map is littered with adorable creatures to add to your inventory.
The collectibles are not a simple pick-and-go; you must perform a silly dance to rouse the figurines. Do it well enough, and the figurines will jump right into your inventory.
Aside from the cute figurines, pieces of gold are also up for grabs, which you can use to purchase magic bombs and health potions. You can collect coins by breaking pots in the game map- an attribute in The Legend of Zelda. However, the game lacks balance in maintaining a steady way of acquiring coins. You can easily travel to different areas to farm coins. It almost feels like a game cheat that's openly at your disposal. With this feature, you don't have to worry about running low on currency, especially during boss fights.
However, a frustrating feature is that you can only collect the items when you feel like it. Your quest log determines when you'll be able to pick them up.
A Mythical Land Worth Seeing
Ravenlok's graphics and visuals are a breathtaking feast for the eyes. They're like an explosion of color and movement that leaves you spellbound. This is profoundly the work of voxel art that brings each element in the mystic world to life.
The designs are intricately detailed, with each item carefully crafted to create a seamless whole that captures your imagination.
It's no surprise that Cococucumber opted to stick to tradition with the graphics. The same element of surrealism features in Echo Generation, which uses the voxel art style. Undeniably, this feature contributed to the game's tremendous success.
Moreover, the stunning graphics make exploration worthwhile. Venture into the dense mushroom forest and encounter mythical creatures of all sorts. Every environment holds secrets for you to unravel. The best part is, no matter how many times you choose to explore the forest; it doesn't appear repetitive or dull.
As stated earlier, combat is easy and functional. Using your sword, you can charge at nefarious creatures and shield your character from incoming attacks. Moreover, you'll get special abilities to amp up your fighting techniques. For instance, you'll get access to a homing icicle spell or a multi-slashing ability at certain points.
In some cases, the battles feel monotonous since, aside from slashing, there's nothing much you can do regarding the attack. To some extent, it feels unsatisfying. On the other hand, your shield protects you from incoming attacks, but it costs you stamina. But this technique soon becomes irrelevant once you realize you can use dash attacks instead.
What’s more, the mythical land is full of nefarious enemies you'll constantly encounter. If your sword is not up to the task, you can stun-lock them through sword spamming.
In a nutshell, Ravenlok's combat feels repetitive over time. There's no motive or incentive to build your character. Aside from the dashing options and syncing your sword with magical abilities, that's just about it. The game doesn't provide you with additional weapons, and the four special skills you acquire don't impact the gameplay or make the combat system more challenging.
Aside from solid gameplay, character narratives add immense depth to the pleasant experience of any game. Unfortunately for Ravenlok, the game robs its fans of this experience. A good example, the game falls short of giving a background to Kira's quest and selection.
I found it a tad challenging to relate to the protagonist since the game doesn't flesh out her background information. Aside from the moment, fortune smiled upon the family, and they inherited an estate, there's no other mention of her family. Neither is there an explanation behind the disappearance of the relative. However, if I were to go out on a limb here, I'd say Kira's kin also stumbled upon the mirror and remained trapped. Perhaps she is the evil caterpillar queen? Who knows. Cococucumber leaves us with more questions than answers.
Ravenlok is an ambitious fairy-tale-themed game that captures the essence of adventure in a mystical land. At first glance, the game's aesthetics and captivating narration bring to life the magical elements of the game.
However, the game falls short in providing depth with its gameplay. Some elements in the game do not inspire an “off with your head” kind of excitement. A few changes would surely elevate it to perfection. For instance, if the developers were to add a touch of complexity to the combat system and give more detail to the narrative, The Legend of Zelda would be looking at a formidable competitor.
So, what's your take? How would you rate Ravenlok? Has it piqued your interest? Let us know over on our socials here or in the comments below.
Ravenlok Review (Xbox One, Xbox Series X/S, PC)
A Beautiful Yet Lacking Magical Adventure
Ravenlok is an action RPG by Cococumber released for Xbox One, Xbox Series X/S, and Windows on May 4, 2023. The game’s premise draws inspiration from tales of “Alice in Wonderland,” giving the mantle to a young girl to save the day. It’s a delightful diversion that requires little more than a finger and a flick. The gameplay is so simple that even a child can quickly master it. Yet, as you play, you’ll find yourself sinking deeper into a state of flow, the outside world fading away as you strive to reach the evil queen. Its charm lies in its accessibility and ability to transport you to a world of focused simplicity, where time seems to slip away. The only thing that matters is the satisfying sensation of success.