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Now available on consoles, Graven is a grimdark adventure filled with nostalgia

From its blocky visuals to its heads-up display and weapon selection, Graven feels like a blast from the past. But we mean that in a good way: jumping into Graven’s dark and (presumably) plague-infested world feels like jumping back in time. Back to simpler days.

Graven isn’t new, per se. It’s been available on PC for some time: first in early access then, since January, as a full release. But this week, it’s available on PS4, PS5, Xbox One and Xbox Series X/S too. If you fancy a slice of fantasy adventure set in a world that feels ripped straight out of the 90s, perhaps you ought to have this one on your radar.

We’ve only scratched the surface of Graven so far, but we’re having a good time, and we’re very keen to play more. Finding ourselves in a mysterious town, we’re told we need to make our way to the library. But the route is blocked. Our first port of call sees us burn some piles of bodies in the sewer — setting the grim tone for the game right from the off — and, once that’s done, the town’s guards will let us move forward.

Graven screenshot
Screenshot: GameSpew

Nothing comes easy in Graven. This isn’t a simple case of pushing through an area, killing enemies along the way. It’s filled with puzzles and labyrinthine areas to make your way around. You’ll be activating switches, looking for keys and more. It certainly isn’t a passive experience, and you always feel like you’re in charge.

It’s a shame Graven doesn’t have more voice acting: dialogue is delivered via text boxes which, while fitting with the 90s aesthetic of the game, doesn’t help much in setting the atmosphere. It’s lacking some characterisation that, we think, would go some distance in making this already dank world feel even more grim.

Graven screenshot
You can pet the dog in Graven. Screenshot: GameSpew

Still, there’s a lot to like. Within 30 minutes, we were already equipped with a melee weapon, a crossbow and a fire magic spell, giving us plenty of options for fighting foes and interacting with the environment. Just be careful: exploding barrels aren’t picky about who they hurt (i.e. you) and, sometimes, picking one up and moving it around might just be the solution to a puzzle.

We love the interactivity on offer in Graven, and it seems there’s going to be no shortage of quests to do: open up your menu and you’ll see your task list, which will fill up as you explore, find notes and talk to different characters.

You might simply choose to focus on the task at hand, though: a well-balanced mixture of first-person combat, exploration and puzzle-solving. There’s a lot on offer here, and we’re looking forward to exploring more of Graven’s dark, grave world: it’s moody, it’s eerie, and it’s filled with retro charm. Best of all, you can even pet its dogs.

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