At one point slated to be a full-on separate release, the Ravenstone Mine expansion for Ravenwood Fair is finally available. And while it may look quite different that its predecessor. the core gameplay remains largely unchanged. But considering we gave the original four and a half stars, that's not necessarily a bad thing. So even though there's not really any gameplay twists in Ravenstone, the addition of a new, very different area to explore and new characters to interact with make it a great choice for those looking for a change of scenery.
You can access the new area by completeing a short quest, and from there you'll be given access to your own mine, which is located directly under your fair. It's dark and dingy and everything looks quite a bit different. But when you start really exploring you'll realize that everything behaves in a very familiar manner.
Take the rocks, for instance. They're everywhere and they are essentially the same as the trees you're used to. They come in different sizes and you'll need to smash them to clear space using your pickaxe. The even grow back slowly over time, just like a tree. Only, instead of giving you wood as a resrouce, they give you stone. There are even enemies that pop out frequently to thwart your rock-clearing efforts.
In order to get to work on your mine you'll need to build machines, and these serve as the attractions from the fair portion of the game. Only instead of attracting customers, they attract moles who will serve as miners. Really, despite the new theme, Ravenstone Mine plays nearly identically to Ravenwood Fair. You're collecting and building new stuff, but how you go about doing so remains unchanged.
But the new underground theme does make a difference. The new visual style is quite the change, as it's naturally much darker than what players are used to. The enemies have a much more alien appearance, ranging from blobs of lava with multiple eyes to creatures that look like they're ripped from the Alien films. There's also a new story. By talking to the moles that come to work for you you'll start to learn about the mysteries of the moles, including the tragic history of their former king.
The game also provides an interesting dilema. Since energy is shared across both your mine and fair you may end up picking just one and playing in that. Otherwise, you'll be running out of energy very quickly. Although, interestingly, some of the quests actually require you to collect items from both areas.
They're used to expansions that add new gameplay features to help breath new life into a game. Ravenstone Mine doesn't do that. Instead, it simply provides a new area to explore, complete with a drastic visual and narrative change. Normally this would be cause for complaint, but when the core of Ravenwood remains so engaging, we're just happy to have more of it.
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