GRAVEN. Let that name roll around your tongue. It’s like gravy and raven deliciously mixed up. Talking about gravy, I was just talking the other day to a fellow games writer about how the shooter genre is so generic these days. I remember when Raven made quirky shooters like Singularity, where story was paramount and devs went out of their way to make their game stand out with wild new tricks or gameplay hooks. Now it’s just battle royals and cosmetic gun skins.
Anyway, I am also old enough to remember Hexen, a very different shooter that came out when I was 15 (and also developed by Raven, funnily enough). I remember it being like DOOM but with spells and I think that description pretty much stands up today. Anyway, GRAVEN is being described as “3D Realms’ spiritual successor to Hexen 2”. It’s being developed by Slipgate Ironworks, who, interestingly, developed the Rise of the Triad remake, which I didn’t play, but the original is another classic – and different – shooter from the deep, dark past.
The trailer shows lots of moody cobblestones and general castle-like environments, so I reckon they’ve nailed the magical-DOOM vibe for sure. Add in spells and a wrist-mounted crossbow and there’s potential for some pretty cool shootery action here. GRAVEN will be out on PS4, PS5, Xbox One, Xbox Series X, Nintendo Switch and PC in 2021. Read below for all the quoted guff from the press release.
Revealed at Realms Deep 2020, GRAVEN delves into a gruesome medieval world of deities and monstrosities as a disgraced Priest of the Orthogonal Order. When a heretical member of the Order sacrifices the Priest’s adoptive daughter, the Priest lethally retaliates in a bout of righteous fury. Tried and found guilty by his brothers and now exiled to the burning sands, he closes his eyes for one last prayer, for peace. The Creator speaks to him directly: “You will have to earn your peace.”
Heed the Creator by hunting down the foul heretical sects responsible for conjuring plagues and twisting the natural order of the seasons. Blending action, exploration, and puzzle-solving, GRAVEN takes cues from classic shooters, immersive sims, and action RPGs alike. Journey across three expansive, open-ended regions, and scour the lands to purge evil.
Carefully observe a reactive world to find the way: with a journal, the player drives the exploration instead of following waypoints. Listen to townsfolks’ woes and slay the monsters responsible for their torment. Banish over thirty distinct enemies from plagued madmen to swamp beasts with powerful sorceries such as wild blasts of lightning and scorching rays of flame. Solve environmental puzzles with those same powers, altering the world with spells.
Wield destructive conventional weaponry, including magic staves and wrist-mounted crossbows. Find hidden gold to upgrade weapons and spells at blacksmiths and alchemists. Return to previously-plundered areas with new abilities to uncover secrets and entirely new areas. With more than 30 weapons and spells, GRAVEN encourages experimentation. Play solo, with one friend in split-screen co-op, or even in a party of four online for complete arcane chaos.
“GRAVEN began as a game we had often dreamed of,” said Frederik Schreiber, vice president of 3D Realms and Game Director on Graven. “‘What would a spiritual successor to a Dark Fantasy series such as Hexen, have looked like if it was made in 1998 in the original Unreal engine?’ We think the answer is GRAVEN. We hope you do too.”
It is said that Dylan Burns has no shadow, or if he does that it portents a shifting of the elder signs that govern the floating curses of the universe, gathering their power and directing ill intent and misfortune to all game developers that enact post-release patches. Consequently, Dylan’s shadow curse finds itself working overtime, permanently engaged, thus the propagation of legend. When not guiding the swirling forces of evil, Dylan enjoys writing (evil) fiction, taking menacing walks, and lurking behind bus stops with a general demeanour that suggests malevolence.