2023 is packed to the brim with a variety of games to take up your precious time. It is often hard to keep up with all the games that are constantly releasing from developers big and small. However, Ravenlok from Canadian developers Cococucumber is an upcoming hack-and-slash adventure game that piqued my interest. Cococucumber previously made a title called Riverbond which was a charming Diablo-lite that was an enjoyable and simple experience. They also worked on the turned-based adventure title Echo Generation which was met with positive acclaim. Ravenlok appears to offer a similar experience but simply in a different genre.
Developer & Publisher // Cococucumber
Platforms // PC, Xbox One, Xbox Series X|S
MSRP & Release Date //$24.99, May 4, 2023
Reviewed On // Xbox Series X
Art Direction Leads The Way
When you begin Ravenlok, you are in the non-fantasy world helping your parents move into their new countryside house. The overall tone of the world is very tame and calm. Then as you fall into the fantasy world where the designs and worlds are breathtaking. The Voxel pixel art style that Cococucumber employs is simple but details colors in a stunning way. Throughout the game, I was astonished by how breathtaking some of the big-level set pieces were. The Queen Of Hearts castle when you first approach is mesmerizing and strong. It towers over your character and made you feel tiny. This sense of scale is often thrust upon you. Especially with some of the massive bosses that you fight later in the game.
The tale of Alice in Wonderland is a balancing act of light and darkness in a disturbing way. This is something Ravenlok also does perhaps almost flawlessly. From fighting a dark sorceress inside the belly of a dragon filled with condemned souls. To having to complete a bunch of random chores for a witch in order to gain a blessing. Whether you are in the darkest depths, or in the brightest of gardens, the world of Ravenlok shines through. Both in a beautiful and eerily way.
A Plethora Of Bosses To Defeat
There is a myriad of bosses that you will face in Ravenlok. Some are classic Alice in Wonderland staples, such as Tweedle-Dee and Tweedle-Dum. But, where the game really stands out is the sheer variety of bosses that you face. Very often in hack-and-slash games, bosses will be reskinned and used again in order to create a false sense of variety. This did not seem to be the case with Ravenlok. Each boss I encountered had their own set of unique skills and attacks that you would have to learn and adapt to.
The bosses are not just differentiated by their move sets, but also in terms of the delivery of their character. For example, you will fight an evil Sorceress who is obsessed with controlling and stealing the souls of everyone she can possibly get a hold of. But just 15 minutes before this fight, you will have to battle a crab that is obsessed with how shiny his shell is. As he attempts to make sure that he is more fabulous than the cockatiel in the center of the courtyard. From front to back, Ravenlok is filled with these whimsical boss fights that battle between super serious, and borderline comedic. These characters help to keep the game from getting monotonous which is often a problem I find in a lot of Indie hack-and-slash titles.
Super Simple Gameplay But Fun For Everyone
Ravenlok does a great job of slowly introducing the player to new moves and techniques in order to defeat bosses and enemies. While there is a good variety of moves at your disposal, the control scheme to execute these moves is simple. You have your standard basic attack, a dodge, a block, then a series of evolving power moves. These power moves range from a homing explosive blast to a 3-Muskateer-styled series of slashes. The moves are fun to combine into powerful combos to defeat the wide variety of enemies that you will face throughout your journey.
My only minor complaint in regards to combat in Ravenlok is the camera. Sometimes during combat, the camera was very clunky in terms of tracking the boss. As a result, the boss would end up attacking me from off-screen and it was almost impossible to adjust the camera to compensate.
If you are looking for a deep and complex game then Ravenlok might not be the game you are looking for. I never found any of the bosses particularly challenging, but the gameplay is engaging and fun. My oldest daughter who loves to play games like Minecraft and Ratchet and Clank, instantly took to Ravenlok. She took every opportunity to play the game that she could, and when she triumphed over a boss, she would become increasingly excited with every victory. It was amazing to be able to share in my daughter’s triumphs against each and every boss.
Ravenlok Respects Your Time
In a world of 50 to 100-hour games, I have to say that Ravenlok didn’t overstay its welcome. It took me roughly 9 hours to complete the game from front to back. Then an additional hour to clean up some missing achievements. This is one of the reasons Ravenlok was such a great experience. In contrast to the gaming industry where every publisher and developer is trying to make everyone play their one game forever. Ravenlok is a quick and fun experience, that respects your time and understands the scale and depth of its gameplay. I would probably say that the simplified hack-and-slash controls would get boring after 20 hours, but thanks to its shorter run time, Ravenlok manages to avoid becoming tedious and repetitive.
A Charming Adventure
Ravenlok is a breath of fresh air, providing a fun and simple adventure. With its main adventure taking roughly 10 hours to complete. It is a perfect game as a break in between massive games such as Star Wars Jedi: Survivor and the upcoming Legend of Zelda: Tears Of The Kingdom. If you are looking for a charming and unique adventure, then look no further than Ravenlok.