Ravensword: The Fallen King Updated Hands-On Preview

We’ve been playing a nearly-final build of Ravensword: The Fallen King recently, and as certifiable Elder Scrolls: Oblivion addicts, the game is truly impressive to us on a number of levels. Read on for our report as we take you through our character’s first ten levels.

One thing that may disappoint RPG experts is that you can’t customize your character. You’ve got a set face, set identity, and set story. The focus of this game is going to be about telling a specific story, so customization isn’t really essential.

You also can’t distribute your experience points where you want. Each level gives you predetermined upgrades to your strength, dexterity, etc. For the first few hours, we pursued only the quests that were available to us, so we were kept on a very linear path of progression.

Our first stop was to Rat Donald’s, a food vendor a few steps from the inn where our hero wakes up. Donald wants you to club five rats for his “super value meals”, so he sets you off into the forest to rustle up some chow. Our level one character handled the rats just fine, but the occasional wild boar or goblin did make trouble for us, especially before we learned how to stock up on food to replenish our health during battles.

The controls, which you can get a peek at in this developer video, worked very well. We turned the look sensitivity up very high, so we could move and look around using a dual-joystick setup similar to Modern Combat: Sandstorm (where the entire screen is your second joystick). Tapping an enemy will target them, and tapping again will tell you how much health they have left, and their level. This way, you can learn to steer clear of enemies that are far too tough for you to handle at the earliest stages of the game.

After helping Donald with his rats, we took a quest from the local blacksmith, who required us to first buy a dagger from him (which the inventory screen describes as “for when you’re feeling stabby”). The blacksmith asked us to retrieve his sword from a goblin thief in the forest, where we were recently clubbing rats. A few minutes and one dead goblin thief later, we returned to the blacksmith, where he let us keep the sword as a reward.

Armed to the hilt (literally) we took on what would be the toughest quest of our first few hours: rescuing a local’s daughter from a nearby dungeon. The dungeon itself was guarded by a baby troll, only level 7, but tough enough to require us to eat a lot of Donald’s rat nuggets for sustenance. Inside, we were faced with skeleton swordsmen and giant orcs who were way tougher than us, but we had saved and scavenged enough to buy a bow and explosive-tipped arrows, which tilted the odds in our favor.

After jumping over a pit of lava and laying waste to the ugly guards, we were able to spring the captive, who ran home. Her father rewarded us with a singing rune, which we had learned from exploring was the key to a few barred pathways.

We have a feeling that Ravensword will hook the Elder Scrolls crowd, as we had trouble putting it down when we knew there was still a quest to be completed. Plus, the game is quite a looker, with a range of lush environments and unique characters to interact with.

On the downside, later on in our early build we encountered a major glitch involving a secret entrance to a castle which permanently blocked our progress. However, we’re assured this bug has been fixed for the final game.

Ravensword has already been submitted to Apple, so expect to see it on the App Store in a matter of weeks.