Graven (PC)

Remember Hexen? Remember 3D Realms? Yeah the good ol’ days, well they are back with 3D Realms latest offering into the Early Access market with Graven! Time to wise fwom your gwave and have a look. 

Disclaimer: Review is for the current early access build as of 01/06/2021. When the game fully releases and leaves early access, we’ll take another look at the title and update this review accordingly

Graven is set in a high fantasy world, you play as a mage who has been exiled and find yourself traveling to a town that has been overrun by a mysterious plague. Within your first few minutes you’re given the task of wandering a sewer area, smashing the heads of zombies and blowing piles of bodies up to get the water running.

Graven is quite early in its development and as such there isn’t quite alot of narrative at this moment in time, it seems rather cookie cutter in its writing but that certainly has the scope to change overtime, Morrowind this ain’t!

Visually Graven is another throwback FPS to the early PS2/late PSX era much in the style of titles like Wrath and Dusk, while at first glance it looks like an old game there are alot of effects and trickery going on to ensure it nails a very atmospheric feel and does it oh so well

The scenery has a sinister vibe to it and while follows the standard dark fantasy vibe of village, sewers, castle ruins and swamps it does it so well and does feel like a world that holds a lot of history and craves to be explored. 

The gameplay is a curious mix of classic throwback shooter and action RPG, your weapons are historical fantasy based involving a mix of swords, staffs, crossbow based weaponry and of course explody bangs. 

Rather than being level based like other games of the genre, Graven employs a hub world and will see you traversing it in a mostly seamless manor, there are a few load times but the world itself sits together quite nicely rather than being held together with corridors.

What does really hold Graven back is the slow pace and lack of impact and an incredibly slow start. You are initially thrown into a sewer section and your only weapon is the staff, the random damage output means combat is at an almost snail pace as you jump back and forth swinging wildly at zombies. 

Following that mission your next one does see you get some raged weaponry, I made the mistake twice of purchasing weapons from the Blacksmith only to find said weapons in front of me soon after, with no way to sell the extras this confused me and offered no bonus at all to buying early. 

Another beyond curious choice is with the magic, I expected something like the mage class from Hexen, not quite Lichdom Battlemage levels but at least ranged magic attacks. No, the magic is solely in it for solving puzzles and blowing barrels up but that’s your lot for the time being, ranged is a solely a weapon affair and kind of removes the point of being a mage in my opinion. 

You have no objective markers unless you are physically Infront of the objective so it’s a case of exploring until you hopefully fall on top of where you should be going, not an issue but the areas following the sewers are quite large. 

What I did like was having to read my journal in order to figure out where I should be going. It gave me an old school nostalgic feeling when that clicked around the 3rd mission but the markers could really do with being a toggle option. 

In its current very early access form, Graven presents a brilliant idea which is better to look at than play, enemies need a little more variety as does the weaponry and of course it needs to do something with the magic. As it stands Graven is a good proof of concept that needs a lot of work to make it really stand out from the crowd.



Work in progress but showing some promise at points, worrying in others. 

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