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Shaksaw

3D Realms Reveals Graven, New Medieval Fantasy In The Mold Of Hexen

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As part of this weekend's Realms Deep retro shooter convention, 3D Realms have revealed Graven, an action puzzler made as a spiritual successor to the classic Hexen duology from the mid-'90s. Realms Deep celebrates the growing retro shooter (or "boomer shooter") market, spurred on by success stories like Dusk, Ion Fury, and Amid Evil. The trend was arguably first inspired by the 2016 Doom revival, which rejected many modern shooter tropes in favor of a more fast-paced style that felt like an evolution of the original games in the series. The two-day showcase featured a wealth of developers making games ranging from commercial Doom mods to full-fledged Unreal Engine shooters.

While 3D Realms bears the name of the company most famous for Duke Nukem, this iteration isn't the same crew that took Forever to release a sequel. Instead, the current 3D Realms evolved from a corporate restructure which brought the company to Denmark and partnered them with a similarly minded shooter developer now called Slipgate Ironworks. Together, the combined force most commonly known as 3D Realms has pushed out new shooters in several different older engines as well as a successor to Commander Keen called Rad Rodgers.

This is the 3D Realms that have revealed Graven, a first-person action puzzler with magic spells, evil swamps, and wrist-mounted crossbows. The reveal trailer showcases an intro that recalls the beginning of Dishonored, although the Unreal Engine-esque graphics are certainly a different look than one of this generation's most unique lookers. Players will explore three distinct open areas and follow clues given by townspeople rather than objective markers in order to move forward. The game hopes to combine classic shooter action with the deep exploration of an immersive sim and the vast arsenal of items and weapons that one might find in an action RPG.

Out of the box, Graven supports both single-player and split-screen co-op with a friend. For more crazy fun, the game also has a four-player online component, although the details to that mode haven't been expanded upon as of yet. In the simultaneously released gameplay trailer, players can see what they'll be doing in the opening of the game. Spells the player wields are mostly strategic in nature, lettings players displace traps and stun enemies rather than zap them with lightning. For lethal force, Graven offers a staff with interchangeable crystals and the aforementioned crossbow, which can stealthily take out anyone who gets in the way.

With Graven, 3D Realms has once again proven themselves to be willing to break the mold of what players expect from a retro-minded first-person game. Despite the reputation bred by Doom and Duke 3D, the first few years of first-person gaming were filled with interesting ideas worth exploring, and 3D Realms seems to be trying to dive into as many as they're able as the years go on. Alongside Graven, 3D Realms is also publishing Quake engine shooter WRATH: Aeon of Ruin and working on a remake of Kingpin, a forgotten FPS classic. With a whole other day of Realms Deep to go, shooter fans will have plenty to look forward to in the coming year.

Graven will be available on PC in 2021.

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