Ravenshire Castle on Facebook: Two steps forward, one step back

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Ravenshire Castle
For developer Silverlake and publisher 6waves, a lot rides on the success of Ravenshire Castle, a Facebook game that has been in development since May 2011. (A year is a long while in Facebook game development cycles.) But with this simulator social game, what rides most on it is pride--Ravenshire Castle is what Lolapps was working on before 6waves dropped the company in its attempt to focus solely on publishing.

In a way, you could say that Ravenshire Castle--the third release in the "Raven" series of Facebook games--is tribute to what Lolapps sought out to prove: That Facebook games could not only look sharp, but play well too. Ravenshire Castle makes huge strides in that direction, but not without clinging onto the very flaws that hold simulator-style social games back.
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What players of Ravenshire Castle will immediately notice is its production value. From lush, crisp 3D visuals (thanks largely to 6waves' Fliso Engine 3) to some impressive bits of voice work, sound effects and music, Silverlake's effort gives games like CastleVille a run for their money in the looks department. And much like CastleVille, Ravenshire is set in a medieval land, following players as they use an inherited magical scepter to restore their lost kingdom.

But like most Facebook games, the story is largely none of your concern. It's not that it isn't there, but simply that it's largely inconsequential. Players are tasked with building out their kingdom, adding new rooms and items as they progress, most of which require help from friends to build. Farming crops is even a requirement--again, like most simulator social games.

Ravenshire CastleWhere Ravenshire sets itself apart is in its PvP (player vs player) and single player campaign, both of which are sewn together through stealth-centric play hooks. In order to reclaim the items to restore the kingdom, players must steal them back from numerous lords and ladies of villainy ... or something like that. As for PvP, players must do the same to steal as much as possible from their friends' castles without being captured.

When in an enemy castle, players need to strategically plan how to best enter and navigate the castle without alerting any of its inhabitants or guards. When a guard is roaming a given room or hall, that space glows in an orange light, signifying that it's unwise to enter. The key to successfully stealing goodies is to only roam through areas that aren't glowing, focusing on shinier items with green-colored titles.

If a player is caught stealing by a castle guard, the player who owns the castle has a chance to interrogate the player's avatar for a bonus. But if the player successfully escapes, all they receive is a replay of how he or she successfully stole from the castle and escaped. It's a light play hook, but just enough to set it apart from the stable of simulator social games on Facebook (and with loads of potential).
Ravenshire Castle farmning
Unfortunately, for all of the steps that Ravenshire takes to bring this sub genre of social games forward, it takes a few backward. For instance, to include antiquated features like farming and requirements like News Feed clicks in order to build certain items only serve to hold Ravenshire back from showing that this type of Facebook game still has a place amidst the growing trend of arcade-style social games.

Throw in some inhibiting bugs, like the inability to send gifts to friends from within the game, to keep Ravenshire Castle from showing that this kind of social game can hang with the rest. That said, 6waves and Silverlake have made quite the effort to prove that claim, and what holds it back can always be changed. It's not that Ravenshire Castle isn't worth your time--it's that the game doesn't make the best use of your time, something other Facebook games get better at every day.

Click here to play Ravenshire Castle on Facebook Now >

Are you digging Ravenshire Castle so far? What do you think of the state of simulator-style games on Facebook? Sound off in the comments. Add Comment.
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