Way back in 2013, The Raven – Legacy of a Master Thief arrived in episodic form on consoles and PC to a rather mixed response. Split across three episodes, the point and click adventure told the story of the possible return of a criminal mastermind and it required all your detective skills to uncover the mysteries within. Now, they’ve been bundled together for the remastered treatment in the appropriately titled The Raven Remasered, but is it a game that was in dire need of a facelift and do people actually need to see it on next-gen?
That’s a mystery I intend to uncover!
Set in the year 1964, it all begins with the theft of a ruby – one of the two Eyes of the Sphinx – from the British Museum by an unknown perpetrator who leaves a raven’s feather at the scene of the incident – the trademark of infamous thief, The Raven. However, The Raven was thought to have been fatally shot years prior, so could it be a copycat or is this fiend back from the dead? The man who shot The Raven, Inspector Nicolas Legrand, is back on the case to solve it once and for all, whilst ensuring the other jewel safely makes its way to an exhibition.
But you don’t get to play as the well-regarded Inspector Legrand; instead you’re playing the part of a Swiss policeman, Constable Anton Zellner, on the Orient Express who stumbles upon the case and can’t keep his nose out of the goings on. He loves a good mystery and wants to help with whatever police operation is in progress. Our role as the player is to guide Constable Zellner through various environments to gather clues, collect evidence and solve problems with whatever tools we have at our disposal. There’s also the opportunity to view the goings on from another perspective later on, but for the most part, Zellner is your main man.
One of the main elements of the gameplay is conversing with the other characters and prising as much information out of them as possible. The amount of dialogue present is impressive, helping to create a real picture of their personalities and discovering their potential motives for being, or copying, The Raven. There’s the aspiring actress, the troubled musician, the stern doctor, the rich lady and her butler – it’s like they’ve been plucked straight out of an ITV crime drama and thrown in here. Whilst the character development is strong, it doesn’t take long to feel like the conversations can drag on and perhaps there’s an overabundance of chit chat. Half of the time you have to go back for more questioning after talking to someone else, which is a bit of a pain.
Backtracking is present throughout though as you try to further the story; whether it’s to trigger a cutscene in a specific area or searching high and low for items to merge together to solve a problem. Missing things to interact with is very easy to do, but the press of a button gives a quick ‘blink and you’ll miss it’ highlight of interactive spots around you – at the cost of lowering your utter pointless detective score… unless you want the related Achievements. As for triggering the scenes, well that’s usually just a case of wandering hopelessly into every different area of the location and crossing your fingers.
Figuring out how to solve a problem at hand is mainly logic. For example, at one point matches are used in conjunction with other items in your inventory to create a flaming torch and although it’s not a one-step solution, it makes sense. Using the matches to try to burn your wallet on the other hand doesn’t make sense at all and so that’s not possible; there are mostly simple solutions to the puzzling predicaments and very few that are convoluted. Mini-games, albeit few and far between, are also present to solve and these offer a nice change to proceedings. The most memorable ones include a game of shuffleboard with an over-skilled child and the unlocking of a door with the help of a wire. But whilst these do bring something different, they can be rather annoying, and in the shuffleboard match in particular, the mechanics are pretty bad which leads to luck based success more than anything else.
In terms of design, the main locations of the investigation – a train, a cruise ship and an Egyptian museum – all look the part, but I did tire of roaming around their limited areas pretty swiftly. The visuals in general aren’t great though, even with the remastered enhancements they are barely high end of the previous gen. It wouldn’t matter so much if the animations didn’t show character model’s hands occasionally merging into items and other character’s body parts. Fortunately, the sound is in keeping with the kind of music in an Agatha Christie style mystery and recreates that atmosphere well, despite being repetitive. I can’t fault the voiceovers as they suit the characters and Constable Zellner especially.
The Raven Remastered is everything you’d want from a crime mystery point and click, but it’s also got a whole load of stuff it could do without. The characters are brilliantly developed, the cliffhanger moments are mildly shocking and the twists and turns keep you guessing all the way until the end. Sadly every conversation seems to go on forever, there’s too much back and forth trying to make a bit of progress and the story pacing is erratic. Having the three episodes wrapped up in one long tale makes for a slightly better experience as you’d have to play them all to get the full picture anyway, however visual enhancements really aren’t worth the effort.
The Raven is back, but their legacy neither enhances or tarnishes this return. Maybe check it out in the sale if you enjoy a good Poirot-esque story.