Roguelites has been a dominant genre in modern gaming for some time now, but developers System Reaction want to stand out with their latest project, Ravenbound. Focusing on a unique fantasy world inspired by Scandinavian folklore that features intense combat, a deck-building mechanic, and the freedom to choose how you want to play.
It’s intriguing enough just to hear about these features, but thanks to a insightful presentation by the developers, it looks like RavenBound is well prepared to deliver on its open-world roguelite promise, at least at this early stage.
Players take on the role of a ship in each life, guided by an ancient creature as a crow. In the service of this higher being, the vessel is bestowed with great power, which will come in handy if you do not want to perish in a dangerous world.
And this world is accessible through a hub area, which has seven doors that lead to different kinds of adventures. The first go into five different areas, each with its own boss, a familiar premise to those who have played the role of the likes of Walheim. Defeating the three bosses opens the sixth door, where the final boss, the treacherous one, lies in wait. Systemic Reaction also shared that it is committed to post-launch support, like its other titles Second Extinction and Generation Zero, with The Seventh Door becoming available once the game starts.
After opening a gate, an area with no end appeared before us, showing the great distances players could travel on their adventures. Thankfully, you don’t have to trek every step of the way, the ability to turn into a crow becomes very helpful when traveling long distances. Of course, this capability isn’t always available, but making full use of it whenever you get Raven Towers should reduce downtime between more meaningful activities.
The team insists that since Ravenbound is meant to be an open-world roguelite, you choose where you want to go in each area, and the enemies you want to take. Symbols appear high up to denote areas of varying difficulty and enemy varieties, and the random nature of these encounters will certainly help maintain freshness, even as the world itself remains. As you explore and battle, players will eventually reach three key locations for each area, completing them all and you’ll unlock access to bosses.
Even as with all the quests, the main part of the gameplay in Ravenbound is combat-oriented and after landing at a location suitable for beginners, we got to see the action in battle. Heavy and light attacks are given; There are stunned attacks, and considering the speed at which things unfolded, knowing when to take your chance will determine whether or not you survive to fight another day.
At the defensive end, players can dodge quickly out of harm’s way before leaping back, or use the Raven Guard, a magical shield that envelops the player and absorbs damage. Time either dodges or the guard is right and you can deal increased damage or kill all enemies in the immediate area. Just be warned that your raven guard can be completely taken out with careless use, leaving you vulnerable.
Staying active in combat also builds energy, which is displayed as a yellow bar above health in the corner. The more energy you earn, the more damage you can do to your enemies. However, getting hit will deplete the energy bar, and this risk and reward system is designed to push players into action rather than constantly sitting around.
Between the damaging combos and aggressive maneuvers, Ravenbound should feel comfortable enough for anyone in an action game, but the seeming lack of a lock-on system may cause some concern. Still, if you taste victory in these bouts, it can become an important part of progress in the form of card draws from slain enemies or chests.
Finding and unlocking cards helps strengthen your deck of cards that are persistent throughout various lives, determining what your life will be like when playing specific cards. These can be tools to make you more powerful, artifacts for passive bonuses, or instant effects cards, just to name a few. One thing to note is that cards cost mana to use, the mana pool is increased by leveling up, so don’t expect to gain much power for a lucky draw. Systemic Reaction pointed to more advanced cards that could add more synergy to the proceedings, and it will be interesting to see how elaborate the system can be.
Just before showing us the owner of the area, the developers made a pit stop in a nearby town, which serves as a safe haven in each area. Here, players will find vendors who will take coins for valuables, while each round will always have an explorer who, upon completion, can help you better prepare for further trials.
As expected, the boss fights in Ravenbound are going to be the toughest challenge, a true test of not only your equipment building, but your deck building as well. Axel Qualheim’s wind god made small work of the vessel, but since a die is a big part of a roguelite, death gave us a closer look at how the system worked. Each time a new life begins, Ravenbound will give players a selection of three randomly created characters from the options unlocked. Depending on the species, weapons, and traits, variation can result in vastly different experiences from the beginning.
Like many rookies, your success in Ravenbound will depend on a number of factors, but based on what the team has shown, every success will help ensure that your next attempt at warding off the evils is easy, and the combat and deckbuilding system Looks quite interesting in a style full of classic contemporaries. For now, RavenBound has no release date yet, but Systemic React will be running a closed beta test in the near future, so be sure to indicate your interest on the official website.