Crescent Moon's original Ravensword: The Fallen King [$2.99 / Free] was a pretty huge landmark title in the short history of iOS gaming. It was a fully 3D action RPG with impressive (at the time) visuals and an expansive world to explore. It was one of those games that made you stop and say "I can't believe I'm playing this on my phone…"

That was just over 3 years ago when Ravensword hit, and since then Crescent Moon has gone on to become a highly successful publisher as well as developer, putting tons of quality games out on the App Store. They even took the open-world RPG thing to the next level with Aralon: Sword and Shadow [$4.99] in late 2010, again offering a huge expansive experience in a tiny mobile package.

Now, after originally being announced way back in March of 2010, the proper follow-up to Ravensword is finally almost upon us. It's called Ravensword: Shadowlands officially, and at GDC earlier this year we got to play an extremely early build and really liked what we saw. More recently, a new trailer was released at the beginning of October that looked simply fantastic, and showed how much progress had been made since we saw the game at GDC. Unsurprisingly, Ravensword: Shadowlands rocketed up the most anticipated games list from TouchArcade [Free] app users for that month.

So, after all that backstory and all this time waiting for Ravensword: Shadowlands, I've finally got my hot little hands on a mostly completed build, and let me say that fans of the original Ravensword and lovers of action RPGs in general should be in for a treat. Mechanically, they are very similar, and I got that same sense of awe and wonder roaming around its huge environments that I did when I fired up the first Ravensword more than 3 years ago. Like its predecessor did in 2009, Shadowlands looks to push the boundaries of what's possible on the mobile devices of today.

The game starts off thrusting you straight into the action as a soldier embroiled in battle with your enemies the Dark Elves. This opening sequence serves as a tutorial as you're introduced to movement, aiming, jumping and attack and defense moves. After taking on several groups of archers and swordsman with your AI buddies helping out at your side, you encounter a massive Troll who you must carefully defeat. Shortly thereafter, a huge explosion out of nowhere brings literally everyone around you to the ground, yourself included.

You awake to find yourself in bed with a fair maiden watching over you, not totally unlike the beginning of the original Ravensword. She tells you that during that great battle the strange explosion killed everybody there… except you. Everybody is curious as to why you were the only one spared, including yourself, and thus embarks your journey to find answers in Ravensword: Shadowlands.

From here, you're pointed in the direction of the local Guild Master who will start you off on a series of "main" story quest, and roaming around the town and talking with its inhabitants can net you some interesting side quests too. Eventually, you can leave the confines of the town walls and explore the vast world of Ravensword: Shadowlands, and it's been a delight for me to do so thus far.

I've put just a few hours into the new Ravensword so far, completing several main quests and a couple of side quests, but it's still very obviously in an in-development state. The framerate can be erratic, though it never drops low enough to impact your playtime and when it does hit that glorious 60 frames mark it's truly stunning. Glitches, pop-in of long distance terrain, and a few rough bits of environment are present, and totally normal for an in-progress build. I imagine most of these issues will be ironed out before release. Ravensword: Shadowlands, despite its in-progress nature, is still very playable, and most importantly very fun so far. It's also beautiful, and should really be a showpiece for the platform when it releases.

I've been recording my adventures in Ravensword: Shadowlands, and cut down more than an hour of footage into this more-digestible 16 or so minutes. In it you can see me exploring the terrain and marveling at the giant "Dino Cows", traversing through one of the early towns and its beautiful scenery, visiting a camper in the forest, and having my tail handed to me by a group of goblins at their hideout. Of course, I go back and give them what for in a subsequent retry (and from the safety of higher ground). Finally, I visit one of the blacksmith shops in town and outfit the virtual representation of my bearded self with some extra weapons and armor. Enjoy!

Speaking of release, Crescent Moon hoped to have Ravensword: Shadowlands out before Christmas, but with the holiday shutdown coming there's a slim chance of that happening. However, they should be submitting it in the next couple of weeks, and it will be in Apple's hands from there, so not too much longer to wait. Until then you can pass the time discussing the game in our forums, and we'll be sure to bring you any new developments on Ravensword: Shadowlands as we get them.

  • JRaynor

    OMG!!! Really the first guy was an adventure until he took an arrow in the knee

    The music have a oblivion vibe i like it

  • omicron123

    Sadly, this just makes me with Bethesda Softworks would do to Morrowind what Rockstar has done to GTA 3 and Vice City.

    Reimagine the interface, rerelease the game. What could go wrong?

    • Jay

      As a huge Bethesda fan, I'd rather they just pool their talent and stick to massive PC games. They make great anti-casual games, and I like that 🙂

      • swatbot

        The two aren't mutually incompatible. Companies don't lose talent to mobile development, they hire more talent.

      • Jay

        Oh, I see what you mean. It would still cost money, though 🙂

      • swatbot

        Yeah, I guess it's still kind of risky for companies like Bethesda to jump in.. I'd love to see some stats on how much Rockstar made on mobile development for GTA3... or stats in a couple months on the Baldur's Gate port. Maybe in another couple years we'll see if it's economically feasible or not for more developers to have mobile dev teams.

      • Jay

        Oh, I see what you mean. It would still cost money, though 🙂

  • nomorejoking

    Thid game looks so boring now...

    • Jay

      He kind of meanders about in the video, but during the game I'd imagine you'll keep busy running quests and collecting sweet, sweet loot. 🙂

  • jakeopp

    What device were you playing this on?

    • Jared Nelson

      This is on an iPad 3.

  • WeMeet

    I thought graphics would be better more in depth combat and I hope the armor pieces dont all look alike with just higher stats

  • 10spongeboy97

    Am i the only one that is at least a little bit disappointed they didn't use swiping gestures to hit with the sword. Am still really excited about it. I have an iphone 4s so i will definitly be buying this. If this game costs over 6.99 then i wont bother though.

    • Ethan Cathcart

      And it's you guys that are killing the gaming industry. Expecting so much for so little.

      • ManuD

        Except, a vast majority using iDevices isn't even willing to pay $6.99.
        Though, your point dead valid.

  • 10spongeboy97

    Does anyone know if this game will feature video output. I have an apple tv and the games i play that have video output tend to have a higher frame rate and have a resolution native to a hd tv.

  • JJE

    I'm really looking forward to this. Loved Aralon and you can see the roots here. Issues like frame rate and pop in notwithstanding, it's going to be nifty.
    But if you have the devs ear, please recommend we be able to move buttons and action bars wherever I please. Give me more screen to enjoy.
    Also you shouldn't treat goblins like that.

  • evilsearch

    after all the wait i can say that im disappointed by the looks. yes just like others have mentioned here, me too hoping that the graphics will be much better than this. draw distance is just horrible. gameplay is still boring. the gun shooting looks awkward. the whole environment looks just too plain IMO. overall, the game did improve from aralon, but just not that significant as i expected

  • evilsearch

    after all the wait i can say that im disappointed by the looks. yes just like others have mentioned here, me too hoping that the graphics will be much better than this. draw distance is just horrible. gameplay is still boring. the gun shooting looks awkward. the whole environment looks just too plain IMO. overall, the game did improve from aralon, but just not that significant as i expected

  • The_Blue_Sticker

    As a GW2 player, I'm just not seeing to much variety in combat. Also, this is just my opinion but I've never been a fan of that Elder Scrolls grim dark-looking style.

  • Vince

    Well..this seems like it has more 'soul' than Aralon =p. The world seems more fully fleshed out and the quests seem more fun. The animation for the gun shooting looks really bad though >.> I like how you are able to kill the goblin below you by pointing your gun at the sky and firing.

    Also..poor ground textures in games never fail to annoy me. There are better ways to overcome hardware limitations(memory here) with better landscape designs like in Xenoblade Chronicles.

  • gemacx

    Looks amazing.
    Except for the directx7-like lighting, it's just too bright and bland, I hope they'll change that.

  • Rothgarr

    Awesome! Can't wait. I'm glad there's no swiping of the sword because I don't want an Infinity Blade experience here. And I love how skills increase as you use them. It's unfortunate that it sounds like they won't make the holidays launch window but now the developers can iron out any issues without a time crunch. I've waited this long... Certainly I can wait a little longer...

  • Giorgio Mera

    Is there an option for a first person view point? That would honestly be amazing

    • Jared Nelson

      Yes, you can switch freely between 1st and 3rd person at any time with the little eyeball in the corner.

  • Shola Akinnuso

    The comments in this thread are heartbreaking. I'm looking at this video of an extremely polished game that would be at home on Xbox Live or PSN, easily, for 20 bucks. Nobody would argue. Sure, I wish that it had swipe during battles, but it wasn't in their design.

    That people are talking about not wanting to pay more than a couple of bucks for this is disgusting. I used to be the FIRST in line asking devs to port games over to the iOS market because of the power of the hardware and its potential. However when i read threads like these, completely dumping on a developer's obvious hard work because people are so used to paying $2.00 BUCKS??? Or waiting for a holiday sale?? I'm starting to hope that DEVS either skip the platform entirely or charge what SQUARE does and drop the price MUCH later. Might as well get extra money from actual gamers that are used to paying OUTRAGEOUS prices on consoles.

    Has the dev team considered going to WiiU? At least they're VERY indie-friendly and this game would be marvelous on the GamePad. Nintendo also lets you set your own price.

    I'm starting to think that most iOS fans don't deserve a darn thing. We beg for rich single player games with depth and no IAP, and people complain about (insert inconsequential issue + price too high).

    I mean, the score ALONE shows that they spent time getting a good composer here.

    I was annoyed at 2KGames for their crappy Borderlands port, but seeing threads like this makes me sympathetic. I mean, why spend time making something really quality when people are just going to wait for it go 99 cents.

    No matter how quality Baldur's Gate turns out, I already see failure due to the iOS market bullcrap race-to-the bottom mentality. Might as well be SQUARE ENIX and stick it high, guys. #Disgusted.

    • Vince

      I like how you acknowledged that console gamers are the 'actual gamers' =p, Valid points in your post but what you feel are inconsequential to you might not be so for others. People ARE is natural after all and you see it happening for all games on all platforms. Why should it be any different for iOS games? Because it is cheap? Should people compromise on their standards and taste just because a game is cheap? x_X . (yet to see any complains about pricing here..did you bring it up just for the sake of it?). While it is annoying to see people complaining about is just as annoying to see people bringing up the 'oh this is an iOS is cheap..shelf away all your complains please' argument.

      I agree with you though that iOS gamers in general need to be more flexible and less picky. As to why devs are still developing for the App Store instead of skipping the platform. I think most ambitious developers(Spiderweb etc) are using the App Store as a stepping stone to Steam and the Mac App Store.

      • Matthew Nemeth

        This just isn't the platform for core gamers, as much as I wish it was. The climate of the AppStore doesn't help, and the restrictions in place by Apple are a problem as well (I doubt we'll ever see proper controller support). We all know the hardware is more than capable, but in some respects this is all just disposable media.

        For a while I wanted to be able to do everything on my iPad, and believe me, it does ALOT I know. This is consumer technology though and we are the 1%... Most people just send an email or browse the web, when I show my wife some of these games she could really give a crap and that is the majority of tablet owners.

        With all that said looking forward to this

      • swatbot

        I think the overall trend is looking pretty good if you compare iOS games from a few years ago with now. The market is exploding and games are getting very ambitious. There are devs out there who continue to invest in the market with more expensive games (eg Square). Also, the amount of iOS sales is high enough (as of the beginning of 2012, 60 million ipad sales alone) that there actually is starting to be a market for core games. If the trends continue, I bet we'll see some pretty fantastic things within the next couple years.

    • Sven Van de Perre

      The comment you make is a beacon of light to me. But I'm affraid its too late to turn the iOS market around and make old school 3 to 5 dollar viable for developers. Even 1$ games are a gamble if you're not an established name (I'm not counting the few iOS superstars). It seems like most iOS gamers want to start out playing for free, and developers have to use an in app currency used to sell consumables for the 1 in a 100 gamer that goes wild on your game. At Monkube, we're not complaining. We just need to move with the times I guess. But this does mean that there will be less diversity, and as an avid gamer, that's a bummer.

  • Jay

    I own the first Ravensword, but never completed it. How many hours of gameplay would you say there is with these games?

  • jamie oliver aspinall

    Yeah. The Gobblins and the environment looks like in the first Game. Really exited about it.

  • icurafu

    After following this for so long, I'm glad that it still looks epic. I'm a little disappointing by the comments from the haters. But, if you the devs are feeling adventures, they should host a kickstarter to get it onto the Vita. It would be perfect there.

  • denisvjcr

    I want it !