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Feb 10 2014

Review of The Raven: Legacy of a Master Thief

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Point-and-Click adventures are back. It’s no longer a resurgence, and games like Broken Age prove it. There is an appetite among gamers, new and old, to meet interesting characters, discover fantastic locations, and solve plenty of puzzles. With that said, let us look at The Raven: Legacy of a Master Thief. Inspired by the classic works of Agatha Christie, The Raven is a mystery game set in Europe during the 1960s. KING Art Games (of Battle Worlds: Kronos fame) have created a game with plenty of atmosphere as well as numerous puzzles and locations to explore. With point-and-click adventure games now back as more than a niche genre, does The Raven: Legacy of a Master Thief steal the show, or should it be put away for good?

ss_920de1d66c263d7b67c38740dbd3e5ab88fd2173.1920x1080Let’s begin by saying this game gets a lot right. The story is right up there with the mid-century mystery classics we’ve come to respect. A master thief named “The Raven” has been dead for 4 years after being shot during a heist. In London, 1964, a jewel disappears from a museum (because of course it does), and the hunt begins anew. The opening cut-scene and the score that plays throughout the entire game is wonderful. Many console games such as the Uncharted and Mass Effect series have really delivered soundtracks that I find myself listening to while I’m out and about, and I think The Raven’s may soon join them. The score fits perfectly with it’s mysterious vibe really gelling with the sneaky characters and lush environments. While we’re on the topic, let’s talk more about the game’s environments. While interacting with them can often be a little difficult, there is no denying their beauty. They are designed with great attention to detail and, when working with the game’s brilliant score, create an impressive atmosphere. The characters have, for the most part, their own motivations and seem to know more than they are letting on. While the character models and animation are, to be honest, something that looks straight out of 2004, the backdrop created by the music and environments can often make-up for some of the game’s other issues.

While I may have been first impressed by the game’s music, story, and atmosphere, the feeling didn’t last long. The character animation in this game is, to put it lightly, awkward. Mouth movements are almost puppet like and characters move much too quickly to be realistic in any way shape or form. I don’t just mean that they walk too quickly but that even their arm movements seem out of sync with their weird muppet-face movements. Not only is this strange, but most of the voice acting is quite sub-par. While the story itself and main lines are pretty decent, side characters are often poorly saddled with terrible animation and even worse voice acting. Sounds pretty bad, eh? Well, as bad as it is, the high-quality music and environments can often make up for this. The main character is quite endearing, as are many of the re-occurring characters. All I can say is, talk with who you need to as quickly as possible and finish their related puzzles so you get to advance through the game.

ss_b9378d8e2e4c86ab77e1a367466c78c4a72f0084.1920x1080The puzzles are another negative aspect of the game. While some are pretty impressive, most are forgettable or repetitive. Like many of the characters you’ll meet, the only ones that are interesting at all are those that are directly related to specific plot elements. Sadly, these are more rare than they should be. Moreover, you first take the role of Constable Anton Jakob Zellner, someone who could be great at solving puzzles. Perhaps the developers tried to emulate this by creating a mechanic which can often force you too look at items multiple times to notice certain things about them. This creates two problems: firstly, most of the puzzles are glorified fetch quests for people you’ll never see in the game again and have no bearing on the plot. The second issue is that, while the multiple-click mechanic seems interesting and could work for a game like this or even Wolf Among Us, it just means you have to click on items multiple times to reach the conclusion that you’ve already found in your head. Any adventure game needs great puzzles to work, and more often than not, The Raven does not deliver in this case.

While The Raven certainly has its high points, it’s mostly a muddled mess. The music, story, and environments all work well together to deliver an amazing atmosphere, one like I’ve found in few other games. Unfortunately, interacting and working your way around this atmosphere can often be anything but fun. It’s a shame really, I would love to give this game a higher score but as it stands The Raven: Legacy of a Master Thief gets 3 out of 5 stars. Some great moments can be found in here, but it just feels like too much of a hassle to find them. If you’re a big Agatha Christie fan, this might be something you want to check out, but otherwise, it is a tough sell. There are currently more than enough high-quality adventure games being released right now to settle for anything less than great.

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