Ravenbound is a roguelike game set in an open world inspired by Scandinavian folklore. The game has been developed by Systemic Reaction, a team belonging to the Avalanche Studios Group and who previously gave us titles like Generation Zero and Second Extinction. Ravenbound attempts to create something unique by mixing different genres, but a few issues hold it back despite a strong first impression. It’s exclusive to PC, where we tested it on Steam.
The game takes place in the lands of Ávalt, which is divided into five regions, each with its own unique style that was inspired by Scandinavian folklore. The game’s premise is that the player is a chosen one or “Vessel”, guided by the entity known as the Crow, on a quest to defeat the Traitors and their followers, who have taken over the once-peaceful world. As a player, you will have to navigate the lands, defeat enemies, and solve puzzles to reach the game’s end. This is easier said than done though, as Ravenbound’s mixture of mechanics can be overwhelming since they’re not always laid out in a whole lot of detail for you.
One of the game’s unique features is the mix of a vast open world with a roguelite gameplay structure. Ravenbound offers players a vast area of movement and complete freedom to choose which path to follow, whether that is focusing on the enemy’s encampments or completing primary and secondary missions in any order. However, it is advisable to follow the primary path at the start of the game to get a grip on the mechanics and structure as it’s easy to get lost in the game’s intriguing folklore-inspired world otherwise.
The game world is well designed, with a beautiful landscape inspired by the Scandinavian fjords, mountains, and typical vegetation. The graphics are stunning, and the ability to fly over the terrain in the guise of a crow is enjoyable and practical for covering vast distances quickly. While some areas may appear repetitive, the overall design of the game world and the vistas it offers while in flight are impressive. A few so-so character animations hold things back a little, as do some of the technical issues we saw at launch, but Systemic Reaction’s open world and the ability to traverse it so freely are definite highlights once these issues get fixed. We wish some of the buildings and ruins were a bit richer in rewarding players with loot and lore, but that’s mostly nitpicking.
The game’s combat system is a bit of a mixed bag, at least at launch. A basic tutorial provides an explanation of the attack and defense mechanics, but once you head into the game itself you quickly learn that there isn’t too much depth to it beyond that tutorial. The attack system only features three moves, ranging from a light attack to a heavy attack and an attack you charge up. The defense system relies on a simple shield and evasive maneuvers. It’s functional, but when you compare the combat to other titles it feels a tad outdated and not precise enough – and those character animations don’t help.
One of the game’s high points is the game’s music, which is superbly composed, with atmosphere-rich melodies that fit perfectly with the game’s themes and visual style. The sound effects are well-done and immersive, adding to the game’s overall feel. The visual bugs currently detract from the audiovisual presentation a bit, but for a half price title it’s audiovisually impressive.
In conclusion, Ravenbound is a unique game that combines a vast open world with a roguelite gameplay structure. The game’s beautiful landscapes, haunting music, and immersive sound effects are its strong points. There are games with more refined combat out there and Ravenbound could have used a bit more time in the oven, but assuming that Systemic Reaction fixes the game’s technical issues this is an open world roguelite worth checking out.