Review – Ravva and the Cyclops Curse (PS4)

A large chunk of the indie gaming landscape is comprised of retro throwbacks; games that look and sound like their sources of inspiration their creators grew up with back in the day. Yet very rarely do these titles actually manage to disguise themselves as something that could be easily mistaken by a forgotten gem of from the 80’s, like, for instance, the Shovel Knight games. I’m ready to open an exception to a small, bite-sized indie called Ravva and the Cyclops Curse. While far from being one of the best indie platformers I’ve played, I have nothing but the utmost respect towards this little game.

Ravva and the Cyclops Curse follows the trend from many games of the NES era when it comes to its premise. You control a sorceress owl who embarks on a journey to save her mother from the clutches of an evil cyclops. All while being helped by a handful of small creatures she can summon at will, to dub as her weaponry against the many enemies and obstacles she’ll face along the way. This is a traditional 2D platformer set in an 8-bit world, with a color palette you would expect from a late NES game. Plus the kind of difficulty spikes that remind me of a time a developer would have to add such sections in order to artificially increase a game’s length with some cheap deaths and limited lives.

Ravva and the Cyclops Curse Portals

See those portals? They will continuously spawn enemies until you destroy them.

Yes, the same is featured in Ravva and the Cyclops Curse. There are some annoying sections that feel almost as if they were meant to kill you the first time around and force you to redo the entire level now knowing what to expect, artificially doubling its length. But after a while, that didn’t necessarily infuriate or disappoint me. In true Souls fashion, I would quickly learn a level’s layout after failing once, then I would manage to blast through it without being touched at all. Its level design felt quite smart after a while, especially regarding the sheer amount of collectibles and secret items scattered throughout seemingly small courses. Sure, those “collectibles” were mostly useless, more often than not being mere score enhancers, but I appreciated the developers’ thought process regardless.

The best thing about Ravva and the Cyclops Curse is its item system. As previously mentioned, the titular Ravva can summon small beasts that double as her weapons, each being used in a different way. The ice spirit can freeze spikes. Green spirits can throw bombs at enemies, breakable walls, and destroy the aforementioned frozen spikes. The bat can emit a soundwave that can reveal hidden items and platforms, while the flame sprite can burn enemies up in the air with a diagonal shot. It’s not even a matter of picking your favorite attacks and mopping the floor with it; you will have to use each of these moves in specific sections in order to solve puzzles and defeat different kinds of enemies.


Ravva has access to different abilities with her familiars, but you’re also given access to a projectile spell, which is very useful for crowd control.

That is backed by simple controls and graphics which, while far from amazing, look the part. With the exception of the 16:9 aspect ratio, Ravva and the Cyclops Curse looks and sounds like a mid-tier NES released in the early 90’s, when developers were given access to larger cartridge sizes. My main gripe with the presentation was its occasionally repetitive backgrounds. The biggest issue with the gameplay lied in its hit detection, which would occasionally result in a few unfair deaths, as well as the very limited life system before you’re booted out of a level, forcing you to play it all over again.

Sure, this is a bite-sized game, and its level of difficulty is uneven, sometimes being borderline unfair. But color me impressed, I wasn’t expecting to like Ravva and the Cyclops Curse as much as I did. It is a well-designed retro throwback, with an interesting ability management system and some well-hidden collectibles, as well as a decent enough presentation. Considering the minuscule price tag the publisher is asking for it, you should totally grab it. It’s not amazing, but it’s well worth it nonetheless.


Graphics: 7.5

Ravva and the Cyclops Curse does look like a late-era NES game, despite the 16:9 aspect ratio and the occasionally repetitive backgrounds.

Gameplay: 8.0

The best thing about Ravva and the Cyclops Curse is being constantly forced to use each of your summoning abilities to complete specific puzzles and unveil secrets. It’s responsive enough, despite the often unfair difficulty spikes and hit detection.

Sound: 6.5

Its soundtrack is limited and repetitive, but some of its tunes are way catchier than one would expect from such a low-budget game.

Fun Factor: 7.5

It is a bit short, and a bit too unfair at times, but Ravva and the Cyclops Curse succeeds at being a love letter to the 8-bit era of gaming, with its tight presentation and simple gameplay.

Final Verdict: 7.5

Ravva and the Cyclops Curse is available now on PS4, Xbox One, PC, and Switch.

Reviewed on PS4.

A copy of Ravva and the Cyclops Curse was provided by the publisher.