Published on August 29th, 2011 | by Derek Strickland, Contributor
Raventhorne Xbox Indie Review
Platform: Xbox 360 (Xbox Live Indie Games)
Price: 240 MSP ($3)
Developer: Milkstone Studios
The ancient world of Asgard is in peril, and only one legendary hero can stop the onslaught of the end of days. Raventhorne, our Norse hero, was slain by an evil foe and sent to the mythical world of Yggdrasil where he is led by the spirit guardians to fulfill his destiny as a champion of Asgard.
This Xbox Indie title is surprisingly rife with Norse mythology; for example, Raventhorne makes use of the ancient ash tree of Yggdrasil which contains different worlds, each with their own themes and guardians. The title also makes references of Ragnarok, which is the Norse version of Armageddon.
Can our brave and gallant Viking warrior save Asgard from the threat of the apocalyptic Ragnarok and fulfill his destiny, or will he fail and doom all the worlds of Yggdrasil?
Raventhorne utilizes an interesting combination of genres and game mechanics, making use of multiple melee attack combos, a variety of gauges, and a light RPG level-up system. Each of these elements are wrapped in a side-scrolling adventure type package with hack-and-slash dynamics. These elements make it quite an impressive and creative Indie mash-up.
The controls for this title are pretty well designed and fluid, which is quite important in any mash-up release. Movement is standard, using the right analog stick or the D-Pad. Pressing the ‘A’ button makes the hero jump, and the melee attacks are mapped to ‘X’ for light attacks and ‘Y’ for heavy attacks. The ‘RB’ changes the battle stance, which there are three stances each with their own specific function. For defensive measures ‘RT’ and ‘LT’ perform an extremely useful frost dash ability that allows players to dodge, while the ‘B’ button blocks.
Every single action a player performs during gameplay drains the endurance meter, which is represented by the yellow bar underneath the health meter–which is the long green gauge above. Players will want to time their attacks correctly and not simply mash buttons as that will drain the endurance bar. Once the endurance meter is fully drained players will be stunned, leaving them open for enemy attacks. This adds a sense of strategy to the game, rewarding gamers who play smart.
An EXP gauge displays a player’s current level, filling up when purple power-up crystals are collected. A full meter levels up a player, and level ups add bonuses to health and damage as well.
The last of the meters on Raventhorne’s in-game HUD is a blue gauge that, when full, allows players to unleash a devastating spell attack against enemies. There are four different spells that are color coated to the four face buttons on the Xbox 360 controller.
To cast a spell players must hold down the ‘LT’ button and select either A, B, X or Y to cast one of the four varying spells. Each ability has its own uses and particular effectiveness, yet they can be used only when the spell meter is complete full.
This Xbox Indie makes creative use of platformer-styled item collection, which gives it the feel of a classic side-scrolling adventure, mirroring elements from classic console games of old. Throughout the game, players will collect a variety of different color-coordinated crystals that moderately fill each of the four gauges. Purple crystals fill the EXP bar and contribute to level ups, yellow crystals fill portions of the endurance meter, blue crystals fill part of the spell meter, and lastly green crystals add to the health bar.
Apart from the various color-coated crystals to collect throughout the world of Yggdrasil, our hero can also find rune-stones peppered throughout the levels. These rune-stones give hints on how to achieve certain goals in the game. Goals come in the shape of simple things like jumping and casting spells to breaking through glyph barriers.
There are a few unique features that set Raventhorne part from most titles on the Xbox Live Indie Games marketplace. The game makes impressive and creative use of Norse mythology, blending a fictional game world with real ancient mythical beliefs to provide for an interesting story arc. While Raventhorne is basically an archetypal “Hero’s Journey”, it’s use of Norse beliefs is quite enjoyable and quite rarely seen in Xbox Indie titles.
Another unique feature that this title exhibits is in the impressive quality of both visuals–in-game graphics, artwork, cinematic sequences–and sound–effects, music, and audio. Each of these are of high caliber when compared to most XBLIG titles on the marketplace today. Milkstone Studios is well known for their enjoyable Indie titles, with emphasis both on quality and innovation. The Indie studio has truly created an Indie masterpiece with the epic side-scrolling melee adventure that is Raventhorne.
The Final Truth: Raventhorne shines in many ways; it’s an enjoyable Indie mash-up that combines multiple genres into one, blending side-scroller with hack-and-slash action with hints of RPG elements for flavor. The Indie title exhibits impressive quality when it comes to visuals and sound, delivering fantastic in-game artwork that represents Milkstone Studios’ apt attention to detail.
It’s truly one of the many gems hidden in the muck of the Xbox Indies marketplace, and is well worth the 240 MSP asking price as it delivers a high caliber Indie title jam-packed with challenging action and is threaded with real-life Norse mythology.
For more information on Raventhorne please visit Milkstone Studios’ official website. Click the picture link below to be direct to the official Xbox Live Marketplace page for Raventhorne.
+ Amazing visuals, artwork, and sound
+ Entertaining and enjoyable
+ Action packed melee side-scroller
+ Variety of combos and attacks
+ Moderate replay value
+ Creative & epic story arc with real Norse mythology
– Multiple enemies are sometimes overwhelming
– Can be challenging to new gamers