This cute Xbox Game Pass indie game combines Zelda and Alice in Wonderland

A screenshot of Ravenlok, depicting its Voxel-style visuals.
(Image credit: Windows Central)

To end the month of May, I decided to play Ravenlok, the latest game from indie developer Cococucumber, and the conclusion to its Voxel-style trilogy of separate games. Coming off the ominous vibes of Alan Wake Remastered, I was craving a shorter, creative indie game to cleanse my palate and prepare me for the game that will dominate much of my June.

Yes, Diablo 4 is finally here, and I can't wait to lose countless hours to the dark and twisted world of Sanctuary. Before then, though, I squeezed in a five-hour bout with Ravenlok, another beautiful and creative indie game that's available now on Xbox, Windows PC, and Xbox and PC Game Pass.

Unbelievable visuals and art design

An alternate dimension is used by the queen to hide three relics, the only way to access her castle stronghold. Gosh, it is pretty, though. (Image credit: Windows Central)

Ravenlok is the third game from Cococucumber, following Echo Generation, and the third to use the "Voxel" style of art design, creating this blocky feel throughout. It's an evolution of the style for Cococucumber and is an improvement in most ways... and a subjective step back in others. Overall, though, Ravenlok is among the most attractive games I've played in recent memories, as long as you're not obsessed with the pursuit of photorealistic graphics.

Cocucumber has built a believable, detailed fairytale world. Every scene is brought to life with meticulously crafted environments, from a crowded and shadowy forest dominated by mysterious fungi to an overgrown labyrinth studded with dilapidated ruins worshipping long-forgotten spirits. The character design is also incredible in Ravenlok, with each enemy and boss possessing unique charm while perfectly fitting into the overarching universe. Bosses, in particular, never ceased to amaze me, with a multi-headed hydra sprouting from a teacup, an alluring butterfly queen that transforms into a terrifying demonic caterpillar, and much more challenging the young heroine you control.

I was constantly floored by the visuals in Ravenlok, with incredible character design and environments.

I was constantly floored by the visuals in Ravenlok and regularly stopped to admire my surroundings. Whether I was trapped in a lavish mansion or scaling a clock-tower-turned-museum, Ravenlok's art design ensured I felt a part of this fantasy world. That being said, I do feel there's one weakness in particular in Ravenlok's mantle of graphical goodness — the main character. A young girl whom you name yourself (but is usually referred to as Ravenlok most of the game) just feels a little... out of place. It's not that she is a regular human surrounded by fairytale creatures, but that her actual character design and the way she's rendered don't quite match the rest of Ravenlok's cast.

Outside of that, though, Cococucumber did an excellent job ensuring the world of Ravenlok supports its narrative, one in which a young hero becomes trapped in a fairytale world cursed by its tyrant queen. Someone who has always dreamed of adventuring, the girl, dubbed 'Ravenlok' by this world's legends, embarks on a noble quest to aid the people of this exotic world and put an end to the evil queen. It's a simple narrative delivered by straightforward writing, but one I enjoyed, nonetheless.

You can see some more images of Ravenlok below!

Simple gameplay and a short runtime

Ravenlok's combat is very simple, but it gets the job done. (Image credit: Windows Central)

Ravenlok is positioned as an action-adventure game with light puzzles and even lighter RPG elements. You're equipped with a sword and shield, you steadily unlock up to four abilities, and you can level up to increase your stats and become more effective in combat. The gameplay is simple — Talk to NPCs to accept quests, explore the world to find useful items, battle enemies as they come, and figure out how to progress to new areas of the game.

It feels like a very toned-down version of a classic Zelda game, complete with straightforward combat. You have a simple attack you can spam, a dash to dodge incoming attacks, a shield to block and absorb incoming attacks, and four abilities with unique effects and cooldown times. There's not a ton of nuance to this combat, but it is functional.

For one, the basic attack is very basic, and you really can just mash it. Other similar games divide the basic attack into three or four-hit combos, with each successive hit in the combo possibly doing a different amount of damage or having a different animation or effect. None of that is present here. The dash is also missing something in its animation, which feels stiff. Finally, I found the block mechanic to be more or less useless, with the dash filling that role without the compromise of stamina consumption or the risk of damage or stunning from powerful attacks.

Ravenlok's gameplay is simple, but it's approachable and still manages to be fun.

The camera in Ravenlok also isn't free, with limited range to position it. This is fine for most of the game but can be annoying in boss fights that tend to happen in large areas. If the boss manages to get behind you, then you're fighting almost blind until you can reposition yourself in front of it. All this is to say that Ravenlok's gameplay isn't the strongest, but I still had a lot of fun playing the game.

It's clear that Cococucumber focused on ensuring Ravenlok is approachable to players of all ages and that the difficulty of the gameplay was balanced to the length of the campaign. To that effect, the studio did succeed. While improvements to the combat and camera movement would've been welcomed, Ravenlok is an enjoyable action-adventure game that almost anyone can immediately pick up and play.

A beautiful indie game, now on Xbox Game Pass

What a world Cococucumber created. I wish I could've stayed in it a little while longer. (Image credit: Windows Central)

I've already played quite a few amazing indie games this year, and I have a lot more on the list still to come. Ravenlok is fine company for games like Planet of Lana and Strayed Lights, which both paired their own unique (gorgeous) visuals with simplistic gameplay. Ravenlok is easy to understand and play, rarely discussing powerful, emotionally heavy topics and themes, but sometimes that's exactly what you want from a video game.

Ravenlok's world is breathtaking like Cococucumber actually has access to a secret fairytale world akin to Alice in Wonderland, and the game is fun enough to play that I barely put it down until I was done. There's enough good stuff here that I almost wish the game was longer, so we could've seen more of this world, and the developers could've invested a little more time in fleshing out the gameplay. Still, I'm very happy with what we got.

If you want a lovely indie game to occupy a few hours of your time, you should add Ravenlok to your list. Is it one of the best Xbox games of all time? Maybe not, but I never wanted it to be. It's a great addition to Xbox Game Pass, and I'm happy I found the time to play it before Diablo 4. Especially since I'm not certain there even is an 'after Diablo 4.'

Ravenlok is now available on Xbox Series X|S, Xbox One, Windows PC, Xbox Game Pass, PC Game Pass, and Xbox Cloud Gaming. It's also an Xbox Play Anywhere title, so you can buy it once and play it across both Xbox and PC.



Buy from: Microsoft (Xbox & PC)

Zachary Boddy
Staff Writer

Zachary Boddy (They / Them) is a Staff Writer for Windows Central, primarily focused on covering the latest news in tech and gaming, the best Xbox and PC games, and the most interesting Windows and Xbox hardware. They have been gaming and writing for most of their life starting with the original Xbox, and started out as a freelancer for Windows Central and its sister sites in 2019. Now a full-fledged Staff Writer, Zachary has expanded from only writing about all things Minecraft to covering practically everything on which Windows Central is an expert, especially when it comes to Microsoft. You can find Zachary on Twitter @BoddyZachary.