GRAVEN Review

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The first-person, single-player action-adventure game hasn’t been so prominent in recent years. In the late 2000’s it felt like these games were in their pomp, as the likes of Half-Life took the gaming world in another direction, Doom kept the action fast and furious and Bioshock delivered narrative, perfectly balanced with adventure.  

GRAVEN feels like a game from those times, with its retro graphics, unusual story, first-person exploration, combat, and fast action. And when I first started this game I thought it was a remake or remaster, but no, it’s just been inspired and influenced by games of the past. Does that hold it back? 

GRAVEN review 1
GRAVEN – an old school adventure

GRAVEN starts with a long boat journey in a medieval fantasy land; a place that feels very familiar. You play a priest, down on luck, after murdering someone in self-defense. On the boat, we get a sense of the atmosphere of the game, as bits of the story are introduced by the mysterious ferryman. We eventually end up in the town of Cruxfirth which seems to have a lot of problems – plagues and monsters rule the town and very soon you are given jobs, clearing out areas in hope of becoming a good citizen. 

The story and atmosphere of GRAVEN is such that you’ll enjoy spending time in the world. It’s powered by a slow, but brilliant set up, ensuring that this is one of those games in which you’ll look forward to finding out more, helped along by the opening premise. It’s helped that the writing is good and the dialogue works well. 

As Tom Sizemore in Heat once muttered, the action is the juice. The gameplay takes place via the first person, with an old-school feel to exploration and movement. You go through areas keeping your health topped up and your mana levels high by collecting them all around you. You open doors, move levers and stand on secret trigger weights – you know the drill. And there are also objectives to complete and side quests to enjoy, most of which are good fun to take in.  

GRAVEN review 2
Parts of GRAVEN will feel familiar

Combat-wise there are both melee and ranged options available. You’ll get to melee away with your staff, utilising certain spells in the ranged attacks. GRAVEN is fast at times, with some old-school Quake-ish feels to it. And as you progress more items and spells open up, which are a lot of fun to experiment with; fire, frost and bits of chain lighting are always good things to pull out when the going gets tough. 

GRAVEN is not a perfect game though, mostly as the platforming elements are a bit hit-and-miss. Getting on and off a ladder for example is much more tricky than it should be. And bear in mind, GRAVEN is a long game too, but that does mean you’ll get plenty of bang for your buck. 

Visually, expect the old retro paintbrush to be in action; if those are your vibes then you’ll be in dreamland here. It does create a great atmosphere in the design and lighting with the looks of the game, whilst characters are good, well drawn in the style of the work. It did leave me slightly cold, but that’s a personal thing which always happens with old-school graphics, but it’s all helped along nicely by a good soundscore, echoing the action and what you’re seeing on the screen. There is some limited voice-over too, but when it does come in, it’s all very good. 

GRAVEN review 3
Not quite magical

GRAVEN will be adored by the old-school brigade. It has that cozy retro feel, but also a good story and a great sense of world-building. The combat and action are fast-paced, building a frenzy at times, complete with a nice mix of melee and spells in your arsenal.

The platforming is not the greatest, and there are some strange little bugs, but for the most part GRAVEN reminds of a time when first-person single-player games ruled the roost. There’s no doubt GRAVEN can hold its head high in that company.

SUMMARY

Pros:
  • Story and atmosphere
  • Combat
  • Some fun with spells
Cons:
  • Ladders and platforming
Info:
  • Massive thanks for the free copy of the game, Fulqrum
  • Formats - Xbox Series X|S (review), Xbox One, PS4, PS5, PC
  • Release date and price - 25 June 2024 | £26.74
Gareth Brierley
Gareth Brierleyhttp://www.garethbrierley.co.uk
I am an actor and a writer. I act quite a bit on stage, a little bit on tv and never on tuesdays. I have had some of my writing published and have written for TV and stage. I have been playing games since they begun and don't seem to be getting any better.
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<b>Pros:</b> <ul> <li>Story and atmosphere</li> <li>Combat</li> <li>Some fun with spells</li> </ul> <b>Cons:</b> <ul> <li>Ladders and platforming</li> </ul> <b>Info:</b> <ul> <li>Massive thanks for the free copy of the game, Fulqrum</li> <li>Formats - Xbox Series X|S (review), Xbox One, PS4, PS5, PC <li>Release date and price - 25 June 2024 | £26.74</li> </ul>GRAVEN Review
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