You may have heard, or even played, Ravensword: Shadowlands before. It has been out for a year already, and was primarily developed as a mobile game for Android and iOS devices. That didn’t stop Crescent Moon Games from porting it over to Steam via the Greenlight program. Boasting improved visuals and a new control scheme, Ravensword Shadowlands should serve as an improvement, right?
Well, I wouldn’t necessarily say that. Let me get this out of the way: Ravensword: Shadowlands isn’t a terrible game. It’s playable, and in some instances, enjoyable. It’s just not a very well developed game at this point in time, and many of it’s core mechanics are very clunky. There are some very large design and technical flaws within the game that need adjusted in order for a more enjoyable experience. I’m sure that most of these issues stem from the fact that Ravensword: Shadowlands started out as a mobile game with the PC support being more of an afterthought.
The premise isn’t too revolutionary or enthralling. You fought in an epic battle between what amounts to humans and elves, when suddenly every soul on the battlefield perishes except for you. Confused and injured, you are taken in by a local town to start questioning why you’re still alive, and what’s going on in this crazy world. It’s not really revolutionary, but it serves as a way to get you to explore the game world. There are several side quests as well, but none of these are really worth mentioning.
Ravensword is also a very short game. You could run through this game in probably 5 hours on your first run through, and still see most of what it has to offer. The areas claim to be large and open, and while that is true, they’re also mostly empty with the occasional enemy scattered throughout. The enemies, however, are extremely well designed and varied. There are what look like giant Javan Rhinos in one of the starting areas which sort of confused me, but was impressive nonetheless. Later on, you’ll find yourself surrounded by dinosaurs such as raptors and pterasaurs, and maybe even on the back of one. While it’s strange that you go from fighting goblins to endangered rhinos to extinct animals, dinosaurs are pretty cool and it’s nice to see them represented.
The combat is extremely basic. Melee combat is difficult because of awkward and inconsistent animations, while ranged combat fares much better. I spent most of my time with a strangely overpowered crossbow that outdamages even the strongest sword in the game. The nice thing about the combat, though, is that the skill system is reminiscent of Elder Scrolls. You’ll get better with weapons the more you use them, and you’ll be able to upgrade different attributes of your character among leveling up. While not nearly as in-depth as a dedicated PC game, it would be a nice touch on a mobile device.
The biggest problem for Ravensword, however, is the amount of technical glitches and overall lack of polish. It’s hard to recommend a game when animations will stop for no reason, interrupting the flow of combat. Or when you accidently double tap one of your directional keys, causing you to roll to your death. Sometimes the sky will turn dark on me, or my crossbow would stop working until I reset the game. Situations like this happen very frequently in Ravensword, but many times they are more entertaining than detrimental. I was very amused when I noticed that enemies will walk right off the edge of a cliff if I can coax them toward me, or that enemies will walk right into water, and then follow me as I float above them. Even the user interface takes some getting used to as many of it’s windows and objects are obtrusive and ungainly; obviously from Ravenswords mobile development.
In terms of presentation, it doesn’t look exactly terrible. Some animations are rough, but the environments are pleasant and colorful, if not a tad empty for my tastes. The lighting is impressive for it’s engine, yet it’s not advanced enough that it will make low-end machines struggle too much. The sound, on the other hand, is a mixed bag. Many of the voices sound as though they were recorded in a closet with a paper bag over the microphone. Some soundtracks are much too loud and dramatic for their areas, while others do a good job at conveying the large, open areas. The sound effects are grating, and you’ll hear too many grunts, squeals, and clangs should you decide to play Ravensword.
Ravensword: Shadowlands is a mobile game stuck on the PC, and that is precisely the problem. Many of the issues stem from the fact that Ravensword seems to be a mobile game first, and a PC game second. While some aspects of the game are admirable, the short length, glitches, and simple gameplay drag the experience down.