The Raven: Legacy of a Master Thief
The Raven: Legacy of a Master Thief is a three-episode adventure from King Art Games, who are probably best known for their The Book of Unwritten Tales franchise. The Raven revolves around a master thief known as the Raven, who was supposedly killed four years before the start of the game. But now new robberies are taking place, and the perpetrator always leaves behind a raven feather. So was the wrong person killed before, or is a new Raven taking over, or is something else going on? Your main goal in the game is to discover the answer to that question.
The Raven plays a little like an Agatha Christie murder mystery — complete with an Agatha Christie character — where you have about a dozen people at an isolated location, all with secrets, and where one of them is a criminal. However, instead of taking place at a country estate and having a murder (or five), the game puts you on the trail of a thief, and it takes place on a train (the Orient Express, for another Agatha Christie reference), a cruise ship, and a museum.
For most of the game you control a Swiss constable named Zellner. You just happen to be on the train where the police have laid a trap for the new Raven, but when the trap goes poorly and the Raven gets away, you convince the inspector in charge to let you tag along. That allows you to function as the eyes and ears of the inspector, and so you get to question witnesses, inspect crime scenes, and even solve an unrelated crime or two, such as determining what happened to a missing purse.
Zellner is the main character for the first episode (which is by far the longest), but as the game progresses and you learn more about the other characters, the game begins switching things up, and you end up controlling multiple people, including characters on the side of the Raven. This is interesting, because it allows you to see scenes from different perspectives — for example, you get to see just how the Raven was able to foil the initial trap on the train — and it also helps to give more depth to the characters. As a story-telling device, the Raven works pretty well.
Unfortunately, as an adventure, the Raven isn’t as successful. There aren’t actually all that many puzzles to solve — you spend most of your time talking to people and examining objects — and the few puzzles included in the game are pretty easy. Part of the problem here is that there just aren’t that many inventory objects or places to use them, and so the puzzle solutions are usually obvious. The other problem is that the interface is too helpful. For example, if you examine a hotspot and it isn’t involved in a puzzle, then once you’ve learned about it, it disappears. This reduces even further the number of possibilities for each puzzle, and so you’re not too likely to get stuck. The toughest time I had in the game was when I had to beat an eight-year-old in a game of shuffleboard.
Another issue with the Raven is that it is a little bit sloppy, especially in Episode 3. When you speak to the museum director, his voice is sometimes so soft that you can’t hear what he’s saying. Sometimes when you try to perform an action, the game doesn’t give you any sort of response. There are inventory objects that magically disappear and reappear in your inventory. At one point you’re supposed to figure out a code, but the solution is flat out wrong (it should be 263). And there are lots of problems with the animations, where characters are supposed to walk somewhere, but instead get stuck and either eventually teleport to their destination… or just remain stuck, forcing you to exit the game and re-start from your last save. Since the Raven doesn’t perform any auto-saves for you, the last problem is especially annoying.
Otherwise, the Raven is a capable game. The interface is about what you’d expect from a point-and-click adventure, with all of your actions being controlled by the mouse buttons. The graphics get the job done, with nice-looking locations and so-so-looking faces. And the voice acting is generally fine, with some actors doing a good job (like the actress for Patricia) and others having trouble (like the actor for Adil), but where everybody at least reads their lines clearly.
And so, overall, the Raven gets a mixed review from me. If you like reading mysteries, then the game might work well enough for you since it’s almost but not quite an interactive movie. But if you play adventure games to challenge yourself against devious puzzles, then the Raven is the wrong place to go. The puzzles are few and far between, and they’re easy to boot, and so they’re not much of a test for your little grey cells. Still, the Raven only costs $20, and the three episodes combine for over a dozen hours of content, so it’s not the worst chance to take if you’re looking for something a little different.
Reviewed By: Steven Carter
Publisher: Nordic Games
This review is based on a digital copy of The Raven: Legacy of a Master Thief for the PC provided by Nordic Games.
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