WARNING: THIS REVIEW CONTAINS SLIGHT SPOILERS FOR ENEMY AND LEVEL DESIGN.
Retro gaming will always have a place in my heart after growing up with games like Earthbound, Donkey Kong and Castlevania. Ravva and the Cyclops Curse is a pixelated, 2D sidescroller created as a love letter to the old 80s and 90s classics that many of us grew up on. Playing as a young sorcerer known as Ravva, the player embarks on a mission to defeat the cyclops who stole Ravva’s mother’s powers and trapped her in stone.
Once players enter the main menu screen, they can choose whether to play a tutorial or jump straight into the adventure with a new game. I recommend players use the tutorial first as Ravva has access to four unique spirits with different powers that players can master. I suggest this because as some players may wish to get straight into the action, Ravva and the Cyclops Curse uses a high score system that is depleted upon defeat, meaning that it might be wise to know what each spirit does safely before proceeding with the main game.
Speaking of the main game, it is INCREDIBLY short. High schoolers could complete the game before they even set off for school. It took me just over one hour to complete the game, compared to other retro games I’ve played. Ravva, however, can become quite difficult during later stages, so the developers may have intentionally made the game harder to represent the difficulty of old 80s and 90s retro titles in order to keep players gaming. However, I would have preferred the game to offer a little more in the content department. The level design is quite simplistic and unoriginal, allowing the players to venture through forests, deserts and a castle. As our protagonist is a young summoner, I would have liked to see more enchanting and magical levels to battle my way through.
As stated before, the combat system for Ravva consists of four unique spells and a standard spell that shoots one projectile straight ahead of Ravva to inflict damage. This is the only spell I have noticed that can be upgraded. Other spells include a green spirit that shoots bombs at a low range but for high damage, a frost spirit that can freeze traps and enemies, a red spirit that shoots projectiles at an upwards angle and a yellow spirit that uncovers hidden items like coin bundles and power-ups. Most levels will require players to use all the spirits at least once, and in some combat situations, players can mix and match for the best outcome of success. Using spells in a game like this is a nice touch since it differs from the typical gun-toting or sword-wielding classic heroes of old.
However, whilst combat itself is satisfying enough, the actual enemies that Ravva will fight are uninspired, and most of the different enemy types use the same colour palette. For example, Ravva will face hulking monsters that emerge from green spawn points that must be destroyed to prevent any more creatures from entering the world. These creatures are mainly black in colour with an orange outline around their body. Other enemies including floating heads that are designed in black colour with an orange outline. Later on in the game, Ravva will come across a monster that spits fireballs at them. Guess what? This monster is designed as black in colour with an orange outline. Ravva and the Cyclops Curse could’ve benefited more by using unique enemy designs and different colour patterns that don’t match up to each other.
To conclude, Ravva and the Cyclops Curse is a pleasant callback to retro games but fails to provide any insight into real creativity with its overall design. The premise of Ravva could be summarised as a magical revenge story that uses a sorcerer rather than a typical action hero.
Platforms: PS4, Xbox One, Switch, PC
Release Date: 1st September 2021
Gaming Respawn’s copy of Ravva and the Cyclops Curse was provided by the publisher.