Ravensword: Shadowlands Review
iOS may be rendering console and PC gaming obsolete. Arcade and puzzle games have been an easy fit for handheld devices, but as developers transform even the most complex video games to iOS ports without sacrificing any quality, perhaps even improving some aspects, is anyone going to keep their Xbox anymore? Find out what new RPG has me unplugging my PS3.
Ravensword: Shadowlands is the sequel to Ravensword: The Fallen King, which I did not play, but I felt absorbed in its world right away. After the last battle, your quest begins anew as you can customize your avatar and start building up skills in battle. Suit up and talk to villagers to find out about quests you can accept, or just go exploring and slaughter goblins and trolls.
The feeling that you can go anywhere in Ravensword is palpable. Move your thumb on the left side of the screen to run around and swipe with your right thumb to turn and tilt. The controls are pretty intuitive if you’ve ever played a first or third-person shooter before, and you can toggle views to play Ravensword either way. Fighting is rather simple. There’s an attack and jump button at your disposal. Honestly, what more do you need?
Shadowlands is accessible to even the most novice RPG player because you could just run around hacking and slashing. That's enough right there to build up skills and collect treasure. The more moderate player can look at the map to make a plan and follow the quests to recover stolen goods and make those goblins pay for stealing in the first place. The expert will delve deeply into every storyline. The thought of staying in the forest slaughtering boars for experience points and valuable boar hides did cross my mind, but I had a review to write.
You can collect a variety of weapons and treasures in your quests, or buy them from markets or nonplayable characters you meet along the way. Conversations with NPCs are easy. They’ll usually give you some direct information and won’t waste a lot of time telling irrelevant stories. You may pick up a weapon, shield or potion from a fallen foe to equip, or you can sell their possessions and buy something deadly or magical on your own.
All the complicated parts of RPGs are handled for you. Your skills adjust with your experience if you don't feel like monitoring them manually. Your character even has to eat, but if you've killed enough boars and deer you'll have plenty of food in your inventory. The best part is you can save your game at any point, so I just save everywhere I go. Each troll I kill, save a game. If the next one kills me, so what? Respawn! That eliminates the most frustrating part of any RPG, when you have to backtrack over stuff you've already done. As long as you save early and save often, you can keep moving forward.
The world of Ravensword looks as awesome as anything on Xbox 360 or PS3. Rich textured environments are still immersive, even reduced to the size of your iPhone screen. The music is unobtrusive and the sound effects make you feel the troll's skin opening up under your blade.
The Ravensword sequel is such a successful, action-packed RPG, it begs the bigger question: where is World of Warcraft for iOS? Just about the only thing that would make Ravensword: Shadowlands better would be if you could use a character you’ve already built up from online play. Once people play Ravensword for a while, they may not want to go back to WoW. Well, WoW will always be WoW, but Ravensword: Shadowlands is an equally awesome RPG, and you can take it with you wherever you go.