In a way, you could say that Ravenshire Castle--the third release in the "Raven" series of Facebook games--is tribute to what Lolapps sought out to prove: That Facebook games could not only look sharp, but play well too. Ravenshire Castle makes huge strides in that direction, but not without clinging onto the very flaws that hold simulator-style social games back.
Gallery: Ravenshire Castle on Facebook
But like most Facebook games, the story is largely none of your concern. It's not that it isn't there, but simply that it's largely inconsequential. Players are tasked with building out their kingdom, adding new rooms and items as they progress, most of which require help from friends to build. Farming crops is even a requirement--again, like most simulator social games.
Where Ravenshire sets itself apart is in its PvP (player vs player) and single player campaign, both of which are sewn together through stealth-centric play hooks. In order to reclaim the items to restore the kingdom, players must steal them back from numerous lords and ladies of villainy ... or something like that. As for PvP, players must do the same to steal as much as possible from their friends' castles without being captured.
When in an enemy castle, players need to strategically plan how to best enter and navigate the castle without alerting any of its inhabitants or guards. When a guard is roaming a given room or hall, that space glows in an orange light, signifying that it's unwise to enter. The key to successfully stealing goodies is to only roam through areas that aren't glowing, focusing on shinier items with green-colored titles.
If a player is caught stealing by a castle guard, the player who owns the castle has a chance to interrogate the player's avatar for a bonus. But if the player successfully escapes, all they receive is a replay of how he or she successfully stole from the castle and escaped. It's a light play hook, but just enough to set it apart from the stable of simulator social games on Facebook (and with loads of potential).
Throw in some inhibiting bugs, like the inability to send gifts to friends from within the game, to keep Ravenshire Castle from showing that this kind of social game can hang with the rest. That said, 6waves and Silverlake have made quite the effort to prove that claim, and what holds it back can always be changed. It's not that Ravenshire Castle isn't worth your time--it's that the game doesn't make the best use of your time, something other Facebook games get better at every day.
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