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Game Info:

Ravva and the Cyclops Curse
Developed By: Galope
Published By: The Hidden Levels
Released: January 15, 2019
Available On: Linux, macOS, Windows
Genre: Action-Adventure, Platformer
ESRB Rating: N/A
Number of Players: Single-player
Price: $2.99

Thank you Galope for sending us a review code!

8-bit games have been gaining popularity within the past decade and a half, considering that many of the kids who grew up playing these games are now able-bodied adults. Game development has also gotten much easier with wider access to game engines and way better technology. Ravva and the Cyclops Curse goes back to those simpler times where games were more high-score based, story/narrative was kept to a minimum, and difficulty made up for the fact that some of these games technically weren’t even an hour long.

Being a 2D action-adventure platformer game, Ravva and the Cyclops Curse has quite the competition these days. The basic premise is that an unnamed summoner does battle with the evil Cyclops Lord. Unfortunately, the summoner was bested in battle and turned to stone. Unbeknownst to the Cyclops, the summoner has a child by the name of Ravva, and now it is up to Ravva to find a way to revert the petrification.

Like most 8-bit platformers, Ravva is a fairly linear progression from level to level, with each level lasting up to five minutes. Like many platformers, Ravva has a life system, and one hit means you lose a life (similar to games such as Contra). Ravva makes its separation from its brethren by introducing a multitude of abilities—signified by a respective spirit. Most of these abilities augment your shot trajectory such as the red spirit shooting projectiles in a 45-degree angle upwards, the blue spirit shooting elevated freezing shots that can pierce enemies or the green spirit lobbing its projectiles. The yellow spirit, however, doesn’t harm most enemies. Instead, it sends out a type of sonar that can reveal hidden items or extra lives. Ravva herself controls very nicely being able to stop on a dime at any moment and general controls being very responsive.

Ravva and the Cyclops Curse
Highlights:

Strong Points: A nice balance of difficulty; a bit more emphasis on puzzles and secrets than others in the genre
Weak Points: Switching between spirits can slow the pace down; default keyboard controls are awkward
Moral Warnings: You play as an owl summoner who has to defeat a cyclops; abundance of magic, with the summoner character using spirits to attack; the word “hell” is uttered once in the secret ending

Ravva puts a bit more of an emphasis on puzzle-like gameplay instead of a “run-and-gun” style that it seems to imply at first. Some spirits can only break certain blocks and lead to alternate areas granting a higher score. The game greatly encourages you to swap between spirits to obtain the highest score possible. Obtaining a certain score can even unlock secrets. There are ways to speedily go through levels as well, also earning large amounts of points if you go through a level without losing a life. Ravva caters to both high-score chasers as well as the speedrunner type and manages to reach a wide audience without excluding one or the other. There is a bit of an imbalance with the power-ups with the most noticeable one being the invincibility power-up. It doesn’t last very long and is seldom seen. In fact, the amount of invincibility granted when Ravva loses a life lasts longer than the actual power-up which I found rather strange.

Being inspired by the NES games of the third generation of video games, the graphics are simple. The color pallet is generally two-toned. I would say the overall style is close to something like Shovel Knight. Most enemies have a red and black color scheme. Backgrounds are typically a primary color and black giving off a mysterious and ominous kind of setting to match the whole fact that Ravva is traversing through the domain of the Cyclops Lord. It may not be as detailed as 8-bit games, but it fits and it is done in a rather clean fashion. In the options menu, there are even filter settings to give off even more of that retro feel, with one filter setting resembling the scanlines of CRT TVs.

Interestingly enough, the music and sound design seem to be more inspired by the frequency modulation synthesis that the Sega Genesis/Mega Drive known for. The Genesis FM synthesis has this distinct “twang” to it that many people (including myself) adore, and Ravva has many of said “twangs” inserted. The music itself is pretty standard, but there are only a handful of tracks in the game as opposed to the ten stages available. The music loops fairly quickly so it can get repetitive. The sound effects are crisp and each one sounds very distinct.

Ravva and the Cyclops Curse
Score Breakdown:
Higher is better
(10/10 is perfect)

Game Score - 77%
Gameplay - 16/20
Graphics - 7/10
Sound - 6.5/10
Stability - 5/5
Controls - 4/5

Morality Score - 84%
Violence - 7.5/10
Language - 8/10
Sexual Content - 10/10
Occult/Supernatural - 6.5/10
Cultural/Moral/Ethical - 10/10

Playing Ravva with a keyboard is doable, but a bit awkward as the default buttons for switching between spirits and actions such as jumping and shooting are far apart from each other, leading to uncomfortable finger placement. Remapping the controls is recommended if a controller is unavailable. I would still recommend a type of gamepad as the layout is more comfortable for this kind of game.

Three difficulty modes in total exist within Ravva. There are not a huge amount of differences between them. Kids mode (being the easy mode) makes it so that you have an infinite amount of lives and getting hit only makes you lose your power up and some time. Kids mode does make it harder to obtain a high score as the perfect bonus from completing a level is missing. Master mode, the one being above the standard Normal difficulty makes it so that a game over kicks you back to the home screen and that extra lives can only be obtained though score thresholds.

Ravva has the typical fantasy violence, with fictional creatures being vanquished by fictional means. The usage of magic is arguably the biggest moral concern of this kind of game. The main character, Ravva, is a summoner who uses spirits. The Cyclops Lord uses a great deal of magic himself, from creating portals that spawn the supernatural enemies to his very own attacks. It’s a bit of a spoiler, but there is a secret ending. Even though the aforementioned ending is quite humorous, it does use the word “hell” in the dialogue. Other than the supernatural aspects and the one instance of the “aCh-Eee-double hockey sticks” (the latter most people won’t even see), nothing else stood out to me.

Ravva and the Cyclops Curse is a pretty good retro platformer. Outside of maybe one moment, there is a nice balance of difficulty with it not being too easy or too challenging, making it safe and enjoyable for people of all walks of life and skill levels. It doesn’t overstay its welcome—only taking around an hour to beat for your first time, with a good amount of replayability being a higher score, trying out a higher difficulty, or obtaining the rest of the Steam achievements. Switching between spirits may slow the pace down at a few moments and I would have rather seen each elemental spirit mapped to a specific button instead, but overall it is a nice package. For a cheap price, Ravva is one of those games you’ll come back to every once in a while for that quick itch to scratch. It is a smooth, responsive experience for a great price.

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Cinque Pierre

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Christ Centered Gamer looks at video games from two view points. We analyze games on a secular level which will break down a game based on its graphics, sound, stability and overall gaming experience. If you’re concerned about the family friendliness of a game, we have a separate moral score which looks at violence, language, sexual content, occult references and other ethical issues.

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