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  • angadsingh06

Ravenbound - Review

OUR SCORE - 7/10

Ravenbound tries to do something extremely creative to emerge from the cauldron of independent works, mixing different genres to reach the perfect formula, or at least an original mix. It is rather rare to find roguelikes with a large movement area: Systemic Reaction has therefore thought of aiming for something more, developing the entire game world on a rather large open world map, which gives the choice on how to face the road to the epilogue of the adventure.

Once the tutorial phase is over, the game world is at our complete disposal: we can choose to focus on the enemy camps or on the primary and secondary missions in the order we want. Obviously, in the early stages of the game, it is highly advisable to follow the high road, the easiest way to become familiar with the mechanics and structure on which Ravenbound is based.

Although the scenario is rather homogeneous, we must recognize that the map offers a remarkable panorama, between mountains and hilly areas inspired by the fjords and the typical vegetation and biome narrated in Norse legends. Of course, many areas are similar and reproduce the same architecture and even the same objects, but graphically the realization is excellent: flying over the landscape in the form of a crow is undoubtedly pleasant as well as extremely useful for bridging large distances quickly.

Ravenbound tries to emerge thanks to an open world setting and perennial deathIn the initial stages of Ravenbound, after an exhaustive tutorial and with full control over the game map, we started putting the combat system to the test against wildlings and barbarians. What intimidated us a bit during the explanation of the basic commands came back overwhelmingly once we were free from the chains of explanations on how to attack and defend ourselves. The model on which Ravenbound is based is rather dated, far from current mechanics, even in minor productions and this, unfortunately, has greatly affected the fluidity and progression of the game.

Our offensive moves are limited, especially in the early stages, to only light attack, heavy attack and charged attack. The defense, on the other hand, is based on a rather fragile shield and dodging. The last two have been our best allies in order to gradually progress in the adventure, especially if performed with the right timing, since they allow you to stun or slow down enemies. The biggest problem, however, is that in Ravenbound you will never be attacked by just one enemy but by at least three at the same time. Therefore, being able to manage group clashes where the opponents alternate between fast and slowed down attacks was quite complicated, so much so that we often received so much damage that we were forced to start all over again due to the low health left. We wish we could say that this extends the duration of the game or increases its difficulty, but in reality it is a question of a poorly maintained enemy AI calibration and "dirty" animations that leave you helpless in the face of an incessant barrage of blows.

In Ravenbound, once an animation is triggered it cannot be stopped ; for example, if an enemy is about to hit with a slow attack and we try to anticipate him with a light attack, this will not stop him, with the result that we will be hit hard. To get the better of the fights, therefore, we had to arm ourselves with enormous patience, giving up wanting to fight head on and limiting ourselves to waiting for the safe windows of attack so as not to receive damage.

So, is the right tactic to separate the opponents? Excellent thought, but unfortunately, in addition to being impossible because the AI ​​will chase you without giving you a breather, the enemies going beyond their area of ​​influence will return to their original position, completely restoring their health as if nothing had happened. Given that most of the game focuses on encounters with barbarians and creatures that inhabit Ávalt, not being able to give the slightest opening quickly became frustrating and uninspiring.

The initial phase of Ravenbound can feel punishing given the paucity of rewards on offerThe not exactly satisfactory combat system is closely linked to the roguelike mechanics and this leads us to the further criticality of Ravenbound. Although we would like to praise the choice of applying this mechanic to a totally open setting, perennial death, on the other hand, leads us to start all over again, even the initial missions, and the only things we will be able to keep will be the cards unlocked with the experience points gained during matches. In fact, upon the death of our character, everything is reset and we will have to resume the adventure with another "vessel" of the Raven, selectable from three options with random traits.

In this screen it is also possible to unlock new traits that will be able to define the character we will choose, ranging from equipment such as sword or axes and upgrades to status effects. In order to draw on these permanent improvements, vital to be able to continue the adventure for a long time, we will have to do an excellent job during the games by unlocking as many objectives as possible, given that the request for points, in this version we tested, is decidedly high. In the first few bars, it is therefore natural to invest time in fighting the easier enemies, or the barbarians in the camps, the most numerous on the map.

Cursed creatures, such as skeletons or evil elves, are rather difficult enemies if you are at the beginning of the progression, and for this reason the first part of Ravenbound can be rather repetitive. Added to this is the fact of being able to heal only with the purchase of healing potions or with successful attacks, which fits perfectly with the punitive nature of the game with the definitive death of the character when the health bar runs out.

Ravenbound isn't all about combat, and an essential part of progression lies in the cardsA further game mechanic in Ravenbound is made up of cards, obtainable through the fragments that can be found on the body of enemies or through boxes scattered around the map. Each of these cards can be equipped in the Relic slot by spending mana, a resource received either through the cards themselves or with the release of artifacts from the curse that afflicts the land of Ávalt. The drop is absolutely random and it is often possible to come across cards that we could not equip due to too low a mana level.

The cards that require these resources are essentially modifiers of our abilities, such as increasing attack or defense, while weapons and armor do not need any requirements and once found they can be freely equipped by discarding the existing ones. Luck plays a lot on this aspect, a real parameter of the character, which can make us find armor capable of increasing our statistics to get the better of stronger opponents.

Unfortunately Ravenbound suffers from some technical and balance problems in the rewards economyAlthough our PC configuration was far superior to the required requirements, some technical hitch peeped out more often than we would have expected. On the optimization front there are some perplexities that we cannot overlook in the review phase, also highlighted in our test, and which have not found a solution in the final version of Ravenbound. Aside from a sporadic texture loading delay in denser areas (which doesn't change even when you lower the game's resolution), it's easy to run into a jittery and stuttering image when chatting with NPCs, or even worse, in some cases the disappearance of the latter, finding ourselves talking to an invisible interlocutor.

Most of the problems encountered during our adventure are known to the developers and will be corrected with a patch but we must recognize that, despite this, the game lacks important refinements that undermine the game balance. Beyond the graphical problems, the rewards offered in the game version we tested are rather meager, which forced us to play many games in a rather repetitive way in order to gain enough experience to unlock permanent traits. This forced farming, if you are unable to properly master a combat system that leaves something to be desired in some aspects, can be quite boring and discourage players right from the start.


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