Ravenswatch Preview – Dark fairytale violence wrapped in a roguelike

Ravenswatch is hitting Early Access on April 6th, and, to be honest, it’s a game I have incredibly high hopes for. For starters, it comes from the team that made Curse of the Dead Gods, which was an incredible roguelike that added in some fun choices by trying to balance empowering curses with the downsides they often came with. Secondly? I’m just addicted to roguelikes.

Here we’ve stepped out of fighting dead gods and moved into using classic fairy tale characters to fight very alive ones. Well, I’m not sure if they’re gods, but the Master Nightmare certainly seems like one, and that’s currently the chapter boss of the one and only chapter available in this, the earliest stage of Early Access.

There are six characters to choose from at the moment though, each of which fits into a different standard archetype. They’re all familiar in some ways, but with a twist. Take Red Riding Hood, for example, who here is called Scarlet, the Red Hood, and shifts between human during the day and wolf at night. Each form has different abilities, and mastering them both is essential to success. Of course, every character has their own list of quirks to manage and master, and as you level them up, you’ll unlock new potential upgrades to choose from when you level up.

While many roguelikes plonk you in dungeons and have you beating your way through different rooms, Ravenswatch is different. Instead of confined rooms, you find yourself in a small open-world map. You can generally head in any direction, and there are diminutive markers all over the mini-map that change as the days go on. Some places will offer healing, some will give you currency for upgrading your abilities or buying items, and some will grant powerful upgrades or bosses to fight.

The aim is simple enough: you need to fight and overcome enough challenges in order to be able to beat down the Master Nightmare that emerges once a few days have passed. The intended path is that you, and up to three other players, all wander around the map taking care of business until the Master Nightmare emerges, at which point you all have to beat the stuffing out of it, or die trying.

However, if you’re feeling cocky, and I usually am in games, you can head to the boss early and summon it and try your luck. I actually managed to overcome it on the second in-game night, mostly because I waited until I was a big old werewolf with some lifesteal and took out the boss that way.

Combat feels good, and the characters all feel different and fun to play. I was a little worried that perhaps Ravenswatch is too easy, and there’s only the one chapter at the moment so there’s not much to sink your teeth into. Thankfully, there are multiple difficulty levels, and each one adds new challenges as you go. It’s a cool system to help give the game a little more content, plus there are level ups to fight for, and the chance to try and speedrun the game as well. Ravenswatch is a title I will definitely be keeping an eye on as it journeys through Early Access, especially as it’s co-op, and a good co-op roguelike is pretty much worth its weight in gold.