Raven’s Hike is a 2D precision platformer in which you control an 8-bit character as you climb levels that progressively get harder. There isn’t much in terms of plot, as Raven’s Hike focuses solely on one gameplay mechanic.
All movement is done with the use of a grapple – capable of being shot in any direction to immediately pull you across the screen. Hitting a wall or ceiling will cause you to briefly take hold before falling, but it is also possible to shoot the grapple straight down to pull yourself towards the ground quicker.
The entirety of the game takes place across four different areas that are comprised of several individual levels. In the first few stages, the goal is simply to make it to the door at the end, while becoming familiar with the controls. Once making it through a few, Raven’s Hike starts to introduce floating tokens that must be collected to progress on to the next area.
At first, the only hazards to avoid are spikes scattered throughout, but these are promoted to falling stalactites pretty rapidly. You know, the pointy rocks on the ceiling that aren’t to be confused with stalagmites, the pointy rocks on the ground. But this isn’t a game about rock formations… It’s a precision platformer, so it’s a game about quick reflexes, which means lots of dying and restarting.
This is especially true in the later levels as the hazards are upgraded again. One of the greatest challenges are found in the floating enemies that slowly track once you get within range of them. The other one that caused me a lot of pain were blocks that will instantly kill you on touch. These blocks sense if you move past them, and after a slight delay will move horizontally or vertically depending on where you moved past.
These are incredibly challenging to work around, but that does mean it’s all incredibly satisfying whenever the reflexes manage to outpace them. And really the same could be said about the rest of Raven’s Hike. The challenge is incredibly well-balanced. Every cleared level feels satisfying and, while there have been a few times when it’s felt like I’ve been bashing my head against the wall, I never thought that what I was doing was impossible.
There are a few things I don’t care for though. The first is that you can’t grapple in the opposite direction of the one you are going. This bothered me mainly because it is actually possible to do. If going to the right side of the screen, all I had to do was quickly aim up and then to the left and I would be able to go in a straight line back and forth. I can understand why they wouldn’t want you to simply go back and forth, but the fact I could do it anyway made me question whether or not there was a better solution. This is probably my most minor of all complaints.
There is another though and after completing the four main areas, there is actually a fifth area that plays like a tower climb sequence, instead of a collection of individual levels. When loading and unloading this area, I experienced a couple of visual glitches and awkward screen shifts. These were, again, minor nuisances that didn’t affect gameplay at all. I have however been playing Raven’s Hike on the Xbox Series X, so I expect the game to run smoothly when it has such low processing demands.
That brings me to my final gripe – one that actually bothers me a bit. See, there is no level select for individual stages. You can choose to replay any area, but you can’t go in and select which level to play. It’s either play through them all, or none. This is annoying because throughout the different areas, occasionally a stage will have a feather to pick up after opening the exit door. Collecting all of these feathers in a given area will unlock an achievement, but if you miss one, the only way to get it is to go back and replay all the levels.
Frankly, it’s not the worst thing in the world because Raven’s Hike is a rather short game. I managed to finish it in around two hours and there’s also an achievement for completing the game in under one hour; if you’re good enough, you can fly through it in no time. That being said, if you want to hunt achievements and gather the Gamerscore, the best course of action would be to rush through the game as fast as possible. Then go back and collect the feathers in each area.
On the whole I have no major complaints about Raven’s Hike. It’s a simple game built on a simple mechanic, but it does it well. It offers a good challenge in a bite-sized package, so you don’t need to invest a large amount of time in it to get the satisfaction of overcoming a challenge.
For the price, it’s hard to beat, so if you’re looking for a challenging and fun precision platform, it’s worth checking out Raven’s Hike on Xbox.
Raven’s Hike is available from the Xbox Store
- Simple mechanic that works well
- Good challenge
- No level select
- Minor visual bugs in final stage
- Massive thanks for the free copy of the game go to - QUByte Interactive
- Formats - Xbox Series X|S, Xbox One
- Version reviewed - Xbox One on Xbox Series X
- Release date - 28 Apr 2022
- Launch price from - £3.29