Game Reviews

GRAVEN

GRAVEN is a first-person action-adventure set in a dark fantasy world. It was in Early Access from the 26th of May 2021, until its full release on January 23rd this year. Developed by Danish Slipgate Ironworks, it was co-published by the well-known 3D Realms and Czech Republic’s Fulqrum Publishing. The latter published some pretty awesome gems in the past, like the boomer shooter Forgive Me Father, which is definitely worth mentioning. GRAVEN is definitely not a boomer shooter and it plays kind of very slowly compared to the title I just mentioned.

RELEASE DATE: JANUARY 23, 2024
DEVELOPER: SLIPGATE IRONWORKS
PUBLISHER: 3D REALMS/FULQRUM PUBLISHING
PLATFORM: PC

Game’s aesthetic and graphics remind of the good old first-person shooters of the late 1990’s, like Duke Nukem 3D and Blood. In GRAVEN you play an exiled priest, which lives again, as a ferryman delivers you through swamps with supersonic speed to a strange place and shares a cryptic warning. Its campaign can be played in five different game difficulties – Casual, Inquirer, Ordained, Stalwart, and Flagellant. For review purposes, I have played it on the Ordained difficulty, which is the default and middle one – the so called “normal” difficulty. As far as the game’s settings go, you are able to set the basic stuff, such as the resolution, field of view, different graphics quality options, sound volumes, and so on. It can be played by using a keyboard and a mouse, or a gamepad – all of the key and button bindings can be changed the way you want to, which is definitely a good thing. GRAVEN can also be played in various languages, from the default English one, to German and French. Before you start its campaign, the game warns that it is an adventure which expects skill in combat, navigation, problem solving, and reading comprehension. It also states that you should experiment with play styles and take your time, which is fine by me! Let’s start, shall we?

As mentioned, you are a priest, and you begin your journey equipped by a simple staff and a book. A ferryman brings you to a place called Cruxfirth, where it drops you off on a pier. The village is suffering a plague of unknown origin, so you first head down the sewers – the most tidy and clean place possible. There you encounter your first enemies, and crushing their heads with a staff has never been more satisfying. In there, your first puzzle awaits, and as a warning – do not, I repeat, do not hit the red barrels. After completing it, you will be able to enter Cruxfirth, and not long after, you will be able to pet a dog. Best game ever! I will not spoil anything further story-wise, but I will state that GRAVEN’s gameplay is pretty good, but it is progressing really slowly. Definitely do not head into the game thinking you are playing DOOM or BioShock, with all the magic skills it offers. Speaking about magic skills, you will be spreading many fires to reveal hidden paths and be able to continue your path. The game offers more than twenty distinct enemies and three bosses, scattered through multiple biomes.

I definitely expected more from GRAVEN, as it has been in Early Access for almost three years, but it stills feels unfinished. All game areas are more or less empty, and I had a feeling that it cannot decide if it wants to be an RPG or an FPS. It very much lacks in both of those genres, and does not offer anything exciting, except maybe its retro look that reminds us of almost thirty years ago. It feels unpolished and is in desperate need of an optimization. Also, what is up with the save system? That definitely is weird and totally wonky, and should probably be changed to a normal saving option in the future. I cannot recommend getting GRAVEN, since there are plenty of better (and faster) first-person experiences available out there.

GRADE

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