Ravenbound Review: An unidentified and extremely unreliable open world roguelite

Ravenbound Review: An unidentified and extremely unreliable open world roguelite ...

Roguelikes are now recognized as being one of the most popular videogame genres among gamers, and most independent films that have had little or no success in recent times fall into this category. We are reminded of The Binding of Isaac's endless possibilities, the quick escape from the Hades' underworld, and the pure action of Dead Cells.

Ravenbound, the latest effort by Systemic Reaction, the company well-known to the public for bringing forth Generation Zero and Second Extinction, has been postponed until a later date. After testing an old build that cast more shadows than lights, we finally got our hands on the final version.

Ravenbound, a game about Vikings, is not something the development team loves, because it is not tied to any visual similarities or imagery. (here is a review of Assassin's Creed Valhalla), but rather to horrific creatures with a complex genealogy.

In a 'Nordic fantasy' scenario, the player acts as a pawn in the hands of superior beings who manipulate us to obtain revenge. This serves as a pretext to justify the roguelite mechanics (there is a permanent progression outside of the runs), which follow a similar logic to that found in Rogue Legacy.

Once we have chosen our vessel, we are engulfed in the vast valt, a map that may be freely explored in every corner and with incredible extension.

Ravenbound is a game that requires a great deal of dedication to get through the final battle. Through the acquisition of mana points, random cards are added to one’s deck, allowing us to acquire new weapons and armor of various kinds.

The world of valt isn't created manually, but the enemies that can be found inside it are rather random: this means that our game will always start at the same place, but already at the first checkpoint we might see, for example, a bandit camp or a few high-level ghosts ready to party with us. The ideal is therefore to identify the easiest threats to eliminate, wisely exploiting the available means.

Combat is the same in broad strokes: Timed dodges trigger a temporary boost to damage dealt, and parries generate a massive explosion that stunned opponents, rendering them temporarily helpless.

The camera is probably the most obvious flaw, as even if you lock the target on the screen, the action on the screen becomes much more evident due to the arena's conformation. Even the adversaries' AI is not without flaws, and it is sufficient that the game moves a few meters with respect to the camp for the opponents to begin having strange behaviors due to the desire to return to their default position.

The goblins are a particularly dangerous breed of adversaries to defeat; the chaos that arises on the screen, as well as the difficulty in reading, make these confrontations frustrating at times.

The open world isn't the most appealing feature in the eyes of a player who will try Ravenbound for the first time, due to certain edges that have an influence on the experience. Think, for example, of the long and boring phases of movement. That mechanic has implications that we found unnecessary.

The majority of the walkable surface is devoid of features, and the only way to get the raven appearance is to go to specific locations, which, although present in large numbers, are often and willingly difficult to locate.

The existence of the grappling hook is also difficult to justify, since as in the previous tested build, there is no map to consult.

Of course, you may encounter ruins or caves that require you to launch the device in order to reach otherwise inaccessible locations, but in any case it is a minor detail that should have been prioritized both in its construction and in a level design that enhances its utility. As previously mentioned, the majority of valt is composed of small inhabited structures that act as hubs.

Side missions are accepted at these points, allowing the Vessel to spend money on recovering health or purchasing additional cards. It's unfortunate that the few NPCs on the screen appear as inanimate puppets.

Both exploration and defeating enemies are necessary to progress. Ravenbound is a roguelite and has some permanent features throughout the run, which however do not affect the protagonist's only ability. In this sense it is only possible to go and discover new abilities that we can only discover randomly in the characters we meet at the beginning of the journey, or to expand the deck of cards, in order to be able to acquire even more effective armor, weapons, and power-ups during the games.

Ravenbound is unsurprising on the technical side, as it utilizes the proprietary graphics engine Systemic Reaction, which bears the same name as Apex Engine. The graphics quality is decent, and it is enough to get close to any enemy or element of the scenario to notice its flaws and simplifications.

Despite everything, valt is a beautiful place to fly over the map, perhaps with the northern lights in the background. During our games, we also encountered some rather annoying bugs, because we had to confront bosses who did not know how much damage we suffered, and since the camera made it especially difficult to keep an eye on the big enemy and avoid his assaults.

The artistic direction does not have particular flashes, but it does give the bestiary a certain personality. We would have liked to see a wider assortment of managers, who unfortunately are all very similar to each other.

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