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Thread: Graven

  1. #1
    Registered: Jan 2006
    Location: On the tip of your tongue.


    Surprised there's not a thread about this yet.

    On face value, it looks a bit like another entry in the recent surge of mostly-3D Realms funded retro FPS games, but really it's got a bit more of an ImSim thing going on with status effects, melee combat and light inventory puzzles.

    Anyway, there's currently a demo available on Steam if you're interested. Took me about an hour and a half of play time.

  2. #2
    Level 10,000 achieved
    Registered: Mar 2001
    Location: Finland
    I also just played 76 min of the demo and came here to make a thread.

    The combat starts out kinda disappointingly simple, but get more complicated with the addition of new weapons and spells. There is some immsimmy stuff, but it's very low-key. More Bioshock than System Shock. One of the spells you get early on is lightning, so the zap-n-whack tactic works here as well. Oddly enough I also got strong Strife-vibes off this, mainly because of the setting and character interactions I think. Not sure what to think of the respawn ability tho, it kinda takes any difficulty out of the game since there doesn't seem to be any penalty to dying. Perhaps this is just something that's just in the demo, or perhaps some new twists get introduced later on to make dying more meaningful? I didn't get to the end of the demo btw. Couldn't find the second fuel thingy! But overall, I like this. It's certainly more compelling than the recent boomer-shooters I've played (Dusk, Ion Fury).

    The demo is available for a limited time, so I hope y'all go check it out. Would love to hear what TTLGers think of it.


    Last edited by henke; 10th Dec 2020 at 15:09.

  3. #3

  4. #4
    Registered: Mar 2001
    Location: Ireland
    So... I feel it's a bit of a mixed bag.

    I liked the intro and story hooks there, and there's a nice bit of atmosphere going on.

    The combat is really unimpactful, though. I'm not even sure exactly what's wrong with it.
    The weapons don't seem to do much damage, and the enemies are all quite tanky, but it's more than that. They also seem to lack weight, like the enemies don't react well to being hit. The enemy animations are also really simple, which limits their options for attacking you - I generally found it quite easy to just run around them and avoid taking damage from them entirely.

    This is a game which is heavily about combat, and I just didn't find the combat fun.

    The spells were really weak; I think the fire spell took your whole mana pool to kill a single enemy, and the lightning was only useful for the rather boring Bioshock zap-and-stab. I get that they're supposed to be more utility than damage, but they just felt weak outside of their small use cases.
    The small crossbow felt like it should be impactful, but took 3 hits to kill the most basic enemy, and that with a maximum bolt cap of merely 32.

    Only the final two weapons had any kind of power.

    I'll admit that I totally missed the kick key - despite specifically talking about it in my post linked earlier - I tried a few keys but it somehow never occurred to me that kick would be on Q, and I missed the keybinding section in the menu.

    No idea why they also decided that some weapons would take up more space than others on the hotbar. That doesn't really make sense to me? You can carry all of these weapons, but you can only access so many large ones quickly? I guess it's some kind of balance thing, but it just feels weird, especially in a game like this where you are expected to swap weapons a lot (especially given the fairly small ammo caps.)

    I'm also not a fan of the excessively retro look. I don't see the point of putting extra effort into making the game look worse. But the pixellated retro shooter look is apparently very popular these days, so what do I know?
    The game actually looks quite good, art-style wise, until you look at something up close and see all the giant pixels.
    I also suspect that the retro look negatively affects the gameplay a bit (e.g. in the case of the enemies having very simple combat animations, as mentioned earlier.)

    I would imagine that the odd respawn mechanic is there because they haven't implemented save/load yet. It's still relatively early in development, so I wouldn't worry about that too much.

    Finally, I have to give it points for letting you pet a dog.

  5. #5
    I played the demo through to the end, took me about 90 minutes. The environments are nice (keeping the retro look in mind) and they are vast and fun to move around in and explore. But I agree with NV, the fighting part needs some work. It's pretty dull, and just more of a necessary evil to get to your goal, mechanical in nature. The weapons are weak, and I think for a game trying to emulate Heretic and Hexen, there should be more powerful weapons and also a far greater numbers of enemies. Make it more of an onslaught. But maybe that's not exactly the game they're trying to make. Also, the baddies could be a little more interesting and scary, you never really feel that threatened by any of them.

    I like the NPC interaction part and the questing, hope there's more of that in the full game. And buying stuff in stores. Could be a cool addition overall to the 90s shooter thing, as long as it's simplified enough.

    One thing that kind of irritated me, and I saw this in the demo too, but you feel kind of compelled to destroy everything around you (crates, boxes, pots) because that's where a lot of the powerups are, like health and extra ammo. And there is a lot of that stuff lying around, so I spent a good portion of my overall time in the game doing this. Not exactly how you want to spend your Saturday night. I think they should have less breakable stuff and just higher odds to get something from the ones that are still in the world, if that makes sense.

    Oh yeah, I missed the kick button too. How would I even know about it? Maybe they need a brief tutorial.

    Overall, I liked it, but it could definitely use some tweaking.

  6. #6
    Registered: Aug 2004
    Quote Originally Posted by Brethren View Post
    I think they should have less breakable stuff and just higher odds to get something from the ones that are still in the world, if that makes sense.
    Mmm. Or maybe just don't put loot in random crates and barrels, but instead have chests or something like that which distinguish the pickups from random breakables.

  7. #7
    Registered: Mar 2001
    Location: Ireland
    Totally agree on the container-smashing, I forgot to mention that earlier.
    It got rather tedious, especially when certain types of containers (like crates and barrels) almost never had anything in them, but sometime did, so you felt compelled to smash them all just on the off chance.

  8. #8
    Registered: Jan 2006
    Location: On the tip of your tongue.
    My biggest gripe was also the combat - very repetitive and didn't have good weapon feel - enemies barely react to being shot.

    The save/reload system does also feel very weird. It also respawned me a couple of times in places I don't think I'd been to yet, which was very odd. It's like it's picking the nearest respawn point, rather than the last checkpoint reached.

    The world design is great though, I had a lot of fun exploring. I can see myself enjoying this in the same way as Hexen - hopefully with more idea what to do and where to go than that game though. The light puzzles felt about right, but yes - needs more enemies combined with more satisfying combat.

    I think the problem with the graphical style is it's trying to have its cake and eat it. Do you want big, chunky hand-drawn pixel art, or do you want hi-res textures? Pick one, don't just make hi-res textures look deliberately bad.

    So yeah, overall the demo kinda tempered my expectations rather than stoking them, which is a shame as it definitely has mountains of potential.

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