We have all been there. You move to a villa that used to be owned by our grand-aunt and you find the house full of clocks and other weird items. Then, while searching the stables, you touch a mirror and get transported to an alternate reality where you have to defeat a queen to end her tyrannical reign. What? That never happened to you? Then you need to read our Ravenlok review.
Echoes of a previous game
Ravenlok is the latest game from the studio Cococumber, which released the intriguing and characterful Echo Generation in 2021 (has it been that long? Help us). While it wasn’t perfect, it offered a satisfying nostalgia-laden RPG with turn-based combat. True, some fights were particularly tough, but the atmosphere and voxel graphics definitely made it stand out. With Ravenlok, it appears Cococumber wanted to address these issues with the combat while upping the ante. Unfortunately, something seems to have gone wrong in the process.
Ravenlok does away with the turn-based and all combat is now in real time. Our girl’s main attack (well, only) is a slash with the sword, which is also our single weapon. There aren’t any upgrades or any new weapons either. You unlock four magic attacks as you progress through the game, and these attacks slowly become your main attacks, but that’s it. By the end of Ravenlok, I was just spamming magic attacks and waiting for them to recharge, the basic slash having become pretty much useless. This also means the game is not difficult at all, and I even defeated the final boss on my first try while only getting hit twice. Just remember to level up and nothing will stop you.
There isn’t a lot to Ravenlok, really. It’s a basic action RPG where you explore the realm, solve quests, and defeat enemies. There are collectables in the way of figurines, but since rewards are just health potions or grenades (which, again, I barely used), there’s not much point in finding them all unless that’s your kind of thing. Overall, Ravenlok is a short four-hour romp that does not overstay its welcome. And the simple gameplay might satisfy you as long as you are not expecting anything other than what is presented in the first 15 minutes. That doesn’t make it a bad game, but if you’re looking for something deep and lengthy, this won’t fill the hardcore action/RPG void.
What feels weird is that the very beginning of the game, before the voyage to the realm, teased much more. You even get to briefly control a dog which – you guessed it – never comes back again. You also get to name your character, which I believe was something they meant to use as a twist or surprise, but it barely comes into play. As a point of reference, Echo Generation had companions that could join your team and an interesting brother-sister relationship with the main characters. Nothing of the sort shows up in Ravenlok. You are just traveling alone, defeating enemies, and doing simple quests.
Click your heels and gain a level
While you might expect me to expand upon the story, I’ll have to disappoint. The brief snippet I already gave is really all there is: our girl gets whisked away to a magical realm. She explores and meets quest-giving NPCs, and has to gain three hearts to unlock the Queen’s castle and progress to the end. Done, cut to credits. The main character barely has a personality, except that she likes to help others and… that’s it? In the end, she does mention that she wants to go home, which is surprising since she did not ever seem to care about being far away from everything throughout the adventure.
You might expect the grand-aunt (who owned the house and seems to have made the journey herself?) to make an appearance or references to our main character’s family in the classic Alice in Wonderland style. Nope. Okay, perhaps it’s up to the player to piece the story together, but that’d be difficult with so little to go on. All characters are just basic quest-givers with little to no personality, with four to five lines of dialogue tops. Speaking of quests, there is no “side/main” sorting. In the first 20 minutes, I was given 15 different quests with no clue as to what priority they were meant to be undertaken (see below).
Alice in Barelythereland
These simple mechanics and barely-there story do not do justice to Ravenlok’s fantastic atmosphere. Going for the usual Burton-esque Alice in Wonderland visuals, it adds its own Wizard of Oz twist. Some of the settings look quite interesting and memorable, along with an appropriate soundtrack. Unfortunately, they’re just eye candy, decorations that you will breeze through while doing your menial tasks. Quests are MMO-like and all about collecting items or killing enemies that respawn, making it a pointless endeavor. There are a couple of puzzles thrown in, along with an opportunity to learn about frogs, but that’s it. Levelling up is also automatic, just bring enough feathers (XP points) to the guy and it will grant you levels.
I write my reviews to always try and offer constructive criticism, but Ravenlok puts me in a difficult place. It definitely seems that, from Echo Generation, both gameplay and narrative have taken quite a notable step back. Overall, Ravenlok ends up being just okay. In a crowded market such as that of the action with lite RPG flavor, it makes it quite difficult to recommend to anyone. If you vibe with the Alice/Wizard atmosphere, want something quick and easy, or you’re a hardcore completist of the genre, then take a dip. Others might want to spend their time and money elsewhere.
Our Ravenlok review was made possible with a key provided by Stride PR. Ravenlok is available on Xbox One, Xbox Series S|X and PC (Epic Games store).
Ravenlok: Ravenlok is a decent action RPG with simple combat mechanics, a very basic story, but wonderful graphics and atmosphere that ooze charm. – Damiano