Ravenlok Review (PC) – Mirror, Mirror In Wonderland
After moving to the countryside from the big city, you would think that things start to settle down. No, not for your protagonist in Ravenlok. Soon to be known as ‘Ravenlok’, our hero will be pulled into a world of disarray. The evil catapillar queen has brought corruption and chaos to a land you entered through a seemingly normal looking mirror. Before you go home, you must help restore light again: defeating foes and breaking the evil queen’s curse once and for all.
When sucked into your new destiny to defeat the evil queen’s curse and save the people of the world, you meet Finn. Finn informs you he feels you are ‘Ravenlok’ , someone he has been waiting for for many years, and the only person that can free them from the queens curse. Equipped with a sword and shield players must explore, help characters and defeat villanous characters who aid the queen in her unlawful dealings. Ravenlok is an action adventure game that clearly takes much inspiration from popular fairy tales such as Alice In Wonderland. It even has a Tweedle Dee and Tweedle Dum twins-inspired boss battle.
Down the Rabbit Hole
Ravenlok is a creative game that does not lack variety in design. Visually appealing travelling in open exploration of labyrinths, castles, Victorian houses, mushroom forests, the list goes on. Each area offers up a multitude of different tasks and errands to complete within that area, mimicking a Metroidvania style. Tasks will become very clear once encountering them. You’ll be given a checklist and be able to cross these off as you go. It won’t always be possible to tick them off immediately, for you may need to complete other tasks first in order to gain different access to different areas, but you won’t feel like there is nothing to do.
For example, quite early on in the game, I met a mouse who required some exotic cheese snack. Most tasks can be completed shortly after them being triggered, such as finding teacups at a teaparty, however this particular cheese recipe did not open up until hours later. The errands are imaginative and you will come across many different friends and foes. Such as small animals, mice, mad hatters, rabbits and much more.
The quests are logical and don’t make players feel stupid in any way (barring one right near the end which felt like it made almost very little sense and took a while to figure out the particular puzzles solution), this seemed like a shared agreement between a few reviewers on their discord where lots of people beame stuck at this particular point, myself included – however this only happened once and did appear to be the only place anyone felt a bit stumped.
The art style of the game is very appealing and does present as a whimsical fairytale adventure where you are the hero of the next Disney movie. It has a sort of cinematic touch with a pixel edge graphically and whilst the story is nothing new it is enjoyable to digest.
Although boss battles are a little samey, which will be expanded upon shortly, Ravenlok does well in making every character interesting to look at. From weepy mushrooms to giant gluttonous caterpillars and a three-headed dragon, there is nothing here visually you can argue is similar to your previous feat. The environmental aspect also tells a story of its own. In one particular area, the queen has cursed a tea party to endure giant food and teacups. Players that pay attention are able to see the mould and creations that make up an artful story believable to its audience.
I Put a Spell On You
The combat system is pretty easy to grasp. You will be equipped with your sword and shield and can practice in a battle arena before taking on any big foes. You can do a standard melee as well as dashing to get around quicker to dodge attacks. The interesting thing about combat is Ravenlok’s special attacks in which you get four overall. Each power hits a little harder than your standard attack and has a cooldown so you do not abuse the special power.
In my experience I found the first couple of bigger bosses quite underwhelming. I ran into a ‘weeping fungi’ (spoiler alert: not a fun guy), and although he hit harder than I expected for an introductory boss, it was just a lot of dashing around him and using the one special attack I had gotten at that time. This took approx 5-7 minutes, so when you’re doing the same thing for that long it starts to feel more like a chore than a risk. He certainly looked a lot more interesting than he was.
However I do have to admit that boss battles did follow a bit of a pattern for some time, they became predictable in their strategy to kill, and predictable in how to defeat. They lacked pace. I found myself using the same strategy for all bosses to eventually be killed without much need to defend myself. This was present until around ¾ of the way in through Ravenlok I noticed a tremendous difficulty spike. One that was interesting, involved different levels of pace, and allowed me to utilise multiple different special attacks making the fight interesting. It did seem like a bit of a steep curve, and I think if you were not used to action adventures or combat games you could be easily caught off guard. Although this came as a surprise, it was a welcome treat.
You do have access to throw various different ranged bombs as another addition to your combat, such as fire bombs, freeze bombs, special bombs that can knock a significant amount of health off your foe. I found I didn’t really reach for them them until this curve and even then, I used them to make things a bit more interesting and change the pace a little.
There are various enemies that will eventually roam the different areas you explore, like the forest and labyrinth, gardens ect that will also respawn when re-entering that particular area such as poisonous anthromorphic mushrooms and monstrous small guard dogs.
When defeating enemies you will collect not only coins, but be able to collect feathers which act as currency for your level. Your level can be upgraded in the Mushroom Forest, this can increase your strength, stamina (for special attacks), bullet and your special attack damage. If those did not regularly level up they might find the game become more difficult as it is not necessarily obvious to the player to do so.
We’re All Mad Here
If that wasn’t enough you can also collect mini rabbit figurines. By dancing in front of them you can collect these and trade them for resources and cosmetics. Cosmetics don’t give you any further abilities but do add a more personal touch to your hero, from different hats to masks. I didn’t run into any technical difficulties other than the odd framerate drop when smaller enemies are attacking in their droves, but there were no crashes or any game breaking bugs.
My overall impression is mostly good of Ravenlok and I would recommend this for anyone who has a hankering for a bit of a fairytale adventure. However I can not shake the feeling that the game had bigger ideas than what the game actually is. Which is a shame but also in perhaps a sort of…weird compliment? It seems that the game could have been pushed further. There are a good range of realms to explore, but only one shop to shop in with a few bombs and a defence ring for poison. As I have already mentioned, I really only used the bombs when I felt slightly a bit bored in the boss battle. So there is much there that gets completely ignored when you have standard attacks special attacks that range from quick burst sword abilities, fire ball throwing, and some magic missile type attack.
The boss battles feel quite predictable and were, as a rule, pretty simple to beat. It just depended on how quickly I dashed and how often I remembered to press my back bumper to spray them with damaged orbs. I don’t see why there were three levels of potions, when it didn’t feel the enemies or game warranted that level of detail in healing. I would never be like ‘drats, should have bought the large healing potion as I only have 3 smalls’. The smalls or mediums would always suffice.
The game is beatable within a few hours, I would say within a 5-6 hour average, give or take an hour either side perhaps, depending on your pace. As I mentioned I would recommend Ravenlok. It’s creative visually, even if it draws heavily from Alice in Wonderland, has a good musical score, a range of different realms to explore but just has simple mechanics. Which isn’t always a bad thing when you’re looking for something to get stuck into without the need to consistently learn different ways to do everything.
Ravenlok is an action adventure that’s heavily inspired by the whimsical world of Alice In Wonderland. Although simple in combat, adventure and quest, it offers a creative and visually appealing art style and environment that will satisfy those looking for a short adventure.
Ranvenlok is out May 4th on PC via Epic Games Store and Xbox. including Game Pass.
Disclaimer: In order to complete this review, we were provided with a promotional code from the publisher. For our full review policy, please go here. If you enjoyed this article or any more of our content, please consider our Patreon.
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