Ravenbound mixes open-world action with roguelike punishment to satisfying effect

In the sea of ​​roguelites available to us today, it’s pretty easy to get lost in the procedural tides. Thankfully, Ravenbound seems to have found a unique and ambitious approach to the genre with an open-world action-adventure filled with clinking blades, incredibly evil bosses, and of course birds – because if I can’t transform into a bird and back into a human at will, what’s the point anyway? The huge map full of optional random encounters and loot is a gimmick that helped break up some of the more familiar roguelite elements, such as: B. the repeated confrontation with bosses and the steady unlocking of upgrades after each attempt. After running around for several hours in the massive Scandinavian fantasy-inspired world and killing myself with my unrelenting curiosity, I’m definitely interested in seeing more.

If you’re into roguelites, most of the notable elements are there and accounted for. I spent a lot of time rolling new characters, engaging in various upgrade systems to boost my stats in the short and long term, and getting knocked out by enemies that were well above my current power level. But what sets it apart are the absolutely massive open-world hubs that I explored as I made my way through the campaign. It’s a fresh twist that makes everything feel different than anything I’ve played before. If you’ve played any of the open-world games that developer Avalanche is known for, like Just Cause or Mad Max, then you might also have a pretty good idea of ​​how Ravenbound works: I’ve mostly been wandering around open-world things to fight and improve my character while wreaking havoc as much as possible.

But beyond that, the developer tosses the usual formula in favor of design elements that support its roguelite ambitions. Rather than completing quests and progressing linearly through the story, each random encounter and discovery fueled my ultimate goal of defeating the absolutely mean world boss that awaited me at the end. To give you an idea, after completing three mandatory combat encounters in the first area, I gained access to the area’s boss. Now I could have chosen to tackle the great evil right from there, or I could keep researching and improving my character at the risk of getting over my head and maimed before I even had my chance on the boss. This game of risk and reward was incredibly entertaining and fitted well with the roguelite formula that made me retrace my steps and take that risk again and again. And it certainly helped that the open-world areas are beautiful, the dangerous enemies and creatures I encountered were compelling (and at times terrifying), and the combat, while a bit wonky at times and clearly in an unfinished state, fast and was challenging enough to keep me busy after numerous runs.

“This game of risk and reward ended up being incredibly entertaining and fitting well with the roguelite formula…”

Ravenbound is also trying some interesting things with the loot system, a card-based format that required me to build a hand of cards that I could use to add specific bonuses and abilities to my character to change the way I played. One of these cards created an extra healing potion that I could consume after each combat encounter, while another had me transform into my bird form instantly, allowing me a quick escape when I got greedy and in serious trouble – I, um, used that often.

I’ve only seen a small portion of Ravenbound’s massive hub worlds, but it’s already unlike anything I’ve seen before, and could end up being a refreshing new take on an addictive formula I already know and love. I will definitely keep a close eye on this development.

https://www.ign.com/articles/ravenbound-mixes-open-world-action-with-roguelike-punishment-to-satisfying-effect Ravenbound mixes open-world action with roguelike punishment to satisfying effect

Isaiah Colbert

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