Ravensword: Shadowlands Review

Developed by Crescent Moon Games and published by Ratalaika Games S.L.  Ravensword: Shadowlands is an adventure RPG into a vast open world. The world in this game does feel very grand and although the graphics will not blow you away they are still decent. The world does feel lonely as it is very scarcely populated, but the beings and animals it is populated with is a little mind-boggling.

You play the part of a soldier downed in a battle against the dark elves, yet despite this you managed to survive. Both the army of Tyreas and the dark Elf army were wiped out and no one knows why or how. So you go on an adventure to discover why you might have survived and the story starts to develop you find – as you might expect – that you are part of the bloodline that can wield the titular Ravensword. But it has long since been missing, so you need to set out on your path to finding it as it will be the only way to save the kingdom of Tyreas.

Now upon research, I discovered this is a sequel to Ravensword: The Fallen King. I had not heard of this game and was surprised to realise it was a mobile game back from 2010. It then surprised me more to realise Ravensword: Shadowlands was originally released for mobile devices in 2013. So it has taken 7-8 years to get ported to the Xbox and considering the game was a hit on mobile devices it should hold some joy for RPG fans, right?

Let’s start with the graphics; considering this was a mobile port, you cannot expect a masterpiece. That is a good job because it’s far from it. All the NPC’s in the game look stiff and talk without their mouths moving, and already you can feel the immersive experience required for RPG’s fading away. There is some OK voice acting in the game but it only makes up about 20% of the dialogue, with the rest just text.

The game promotes the fact that the world is quite vast and richly detailed. It’s half right, it is certainly vast but the details are not what I’d consider rich. You have a setting to expand the view but it’s very blocky and old fashioned looking. You can look and see a mountain in a distance and then shuffle a few degrees to the right or left and it disappears. This happens with a few things and makes it look like the game is struggling to process the map even though it’s running on an Xbox Series X. I will give credit in saying some of the areas are quite vast and open, but on the flip side, it is filled with a lot of nothing. There are some maps it would take a good 10-15 minutes to run around the outside of the map on foot, but on that whole map there might be able 10-15 enemies/animals to fight and at times you feel so lonely that you actually want to see an enemy just for some company.

Considering a little title called Skyrim was popular around the original launch of Ravensword: Shadowlands, there is definitely an inspiration in the overall design here. People carry bows, swords, axes and hammers etc. The animals vary quite dramatically in each area, from wolves and bears to goblins and trolls which is pretty standard within the genre. It all gets a bit weird then when you see dinosaurs and weird dinosaur hybrids and you start to wonder what sort of world this is.

Then we have the controls and they are as janky as you would expect a mobile port to be. They are certainly not broken and you can move and jump just fine, while there is successful combat despite the hit detection seemingly taking a vacation from the game. Most of the buttons and controls are what you would expect with an RPG except one irritating point, the quick access button. They slapped this on one of the bumper buttons and up on the d-pad. That’s fine, as you might want to swap between ranged weapons or melee weapons or even magic, but if you accidentally hit the quick access button you can’t get rid of it unless you select something. If you select an item you are using like the weapon you currently have equipped then it will unequip it. So you have to bring up the quick access again to re-equip it.

Also, the inventory screen is a mess. You have sections below the inventory to organise it by type like weapons, restoration, etc. but I could not work out how to use that so I continually had to scroll through all my inventory to find the things I need.  As I mentioned with the combat, it is about as janky as you would expect to mobile port to be. Enemies fall from the sky, they occasionally stand on each other’s heads and their hit animation doesn’t add up. You could be swinging your weapon at them and sometimes you hit them, sometimes not and you have to gauge it by if their health goes down. Whereas they hit you quite a bit and sometimes they are just standing still and you are still being hit. Early on the game was too tough so I had to turn the difficulty slider down as the combat was really killing the experience for me. There was no pattern you could learn and you could try evading and blocking but all it did was drain your stamina. The most bizarre thing with the combat was I struggling with the goblins in the first area but not much further on in the game, for example the giant elephant dinosaur creatures which I killed in 1 or 2 hits.

Aside from that, the game does have a fair selection of weapons to choose from, although you have to grind for pelts if you want to have any chance of affording the top end gear. You gain experience by killing enemies, and when you level up you can choose to improve some of your base stats and invest in skills. Players who invest in magic usually are underserved here as the spell casting in this game is a bit rubbish and consumes your stamina too quickly, so it’s not a worthwhile route. They also allow you to invest in skills like sneaking, lock picking and pickpocketing, all of which are not handled well. The graphics and controls make sneaking around dull, you only have to invest 1 skill point in lock picking and with a tiny amount of skill you can get the hang of unlocking things, of which I think there are only about 10 things to unlock in the game. The pickpocketing is the worst thing as everyone I tried to pickpocket only has about 40 gold to steal which is about the same as a pelt. Then you have to be successful in stealing which I don’t think I did once even with a max skill.

It’s not all bad though, the game is playable and can be seen as an incredibly lightweight Elder Scrolls game that you can complete in a few sittings. I did like the fact that later in the game you have a flying mount which was fun to roam around the vast areas in. It’s a shame you can only use it in certain areas but I did have fun with that. There aren’t many side quests in the game and they have quite a small pay off – that’s if you can even find some of the NPC’s who give you the side quests.

Conclusion

Ravensword: Shadowlands is a passably playable RPG considering it is an aged mobile port. If you ever want to play an RPG that you can complete in days rather than months for a fraction of the cost then this could be something to pick up. But stiff NPCs, random hit detection/animation, bland storyline, and vast empty lands really make it challenging to fully immerse yourself into the game.

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This game was tested and reviewed on Xbox. All of the opinions and insights here are subject to that version. Game provided by publisher.
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Good
  • Nice variety of weapons
  • The flying mount was fun
Bad
  • Hit detection/animation is a mess
  • Too many vast open areas that feel empty
  • Magic and stealth skills just feel worthless
4.8
Poor
Gameplay - 4.5
Graphics - 5
Audio - 5.5
Longevity - 4
Written by
Gaming, or, games in general, are in my blood. Just shy of an addiction but still an obsession. From opening my mind on the Commodore 64 I have kept up with the generations of gaming, currently residing on the Xbox One. Gamertag: Grahamreaper

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