If you know the simple joy of starting every Saturday morning with a good cup of coffee and a strategic victory, chances are you’ve been soaking up Ravenmark: Scourge of Estellion like a steady caffeine drip for over a year now. It’s truly staggering, what Witching Hour Studios have accomplished with their iOS debut. Following the game’s late 2011 release, Ravenmark has ballooned to over three times its initial content, with major updates – featuring gameplay innovations and entire story arcs – hitting every few months. The release of “Raven’s Rise” reminds us that all good things come to an end — and when the end is this good, you know you’re looking at something that will be remembered as a classic.
Wrapping up the plot twist set in “Raven’s Dusk,” Scourge of Estellion’s final campaign sees Livia Cassianus tightening her hold on the imperial throne with Calius Septim and Vidius Harper leading the charge. The fates of opposition leaders within and without the Empire of the Raven seem equally sealed from the get-go, but you know what they say about cornered enemies! “Raven’s Rise” is a punishing tour de force, each of its nine missions featuring a surprise turn of events that’s sure to keep even the most seasoned tactician on his or her toes. Diehard Ravenmark fans wouldn’t have it any other way.
What “Raven’s Rise” lacks in brand-new units, it makes up for with thorough use of everything featured in previous campaigns. The multi-army command system that made “Raven’s Dusk” such a treat returns, and fans can once again look forward to the quirky mechas introduced in “Deepwood Dragoons.” Battles are consistently large scale, making clever use of the Standing Orders system key to the Empire’s survival. When those precious command points run dry and you’ve still got half an army waiting like sitting ducks, free actions like linking and de-linking units at the right times spell the difference between a sound defense and a quick rout. There’s a good ten hours of gameplay in Ravenmark‘s finale, but the irresistible urge to retry once a better strategy has dawned on you makes “Raven’s Rise” a truly meaty parting gift.
If this is the first you’ve heard of Ravenmark, do give our summaries of “Suneaters,” “Deepwood Dragoons” and “Raven’s Dusk” a gander so you can get a sense of what a massive adventure Witching Hour Studios hath wrought. Don’t forget you can try the original campaigns for free, but suffice it to say the all-in-one package is heartily recommended to anyone in the mood for an immersive TBS.