Review: The Raven: Legacy of a Master Thief (PS3)

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Title: The Raven: Legacy of a Master Thief
Format: PlayStation Network Download (8.3 GB)
Release Date: January 14, 2014
Publisher: Nordic Games Publishing
Developer: King Art
Original MSRP: $29.99
ESRB Rating: T
The Raven: Legacy of a Master Thief is also available on Xbox 360 and PC.

This point-and-click adventure, set in the 1960’s with a heavy Agatha Christie influence, was originally released episodically for PC beginning in the summer of 2013.  The PSN version includes all three chapters of this riveting thriller, allowing binge players to reposition themselves from the edge of their seats after each cliffhanger ending.

Gameplay:
You begin the game as Constable Zellner, an inquisitive Swiss officer beyond his years who yearns to close that one big case before his inevitable retirement.  A legendary thief, known only as The Raven, has impossibly come out of retirement after being caught and killed years earlier by the incredible sleuth, Inspector Legrand.  Who is the ‘New Raven’?  Did Legrand shoot the wrong man?  All of these burning questions will be created and answered to the players’ satisfaction as the plot twists, turns, and of course, thickens.

The gameplay is heavily focused on investigation, inspection, and the simple inventory system.  Players will generally be granted free roam of a handful of areas in one locale at a time.  You’ll find yourself walking around different rooms/areas, interacting with every object the game will let you press ‘X’ on.  An often recurring loading screen tip will remind you that some items need to be examined more than once before their use or value is fully realized.  This notion encourages thorough investigation which is essential to a successful playthrough.

Turning over every stone and peeking at each nook and cranny for clues and inventory items is broken up by the interesting, but often useless dialogue between your character and the other persons of interest.  Occasionally, you’ll get a helpful hint after reading through scores of cleverly written conversation.  The puzzles are often straightforward and simple but the most obvious answer can go easily undetected.  Your character will not have a huge inventory or even be allowed to explore a huge space.  The game is sectioned off in such a way that you might find a locked door in one room and a bobby pin in the other.  By George, I think I’ve got it!

The Raven - 2

The hardest puzzle to overcome is the control scheme.  One of the areas in which I was stuck the longest involved a solution including combining items with cumbersome commands and highlighting tasks with tricky toggling.  The videos I consulted on YouTube while trying to figure things out were mostly being captured on the PC version of the game and it was evident that the console controls were definitely a detriment to the gameplay experience.  I enviously watched PC gamers all over the net seamlessly move their character, highlight and inspect objects, and strike up conversations with the NPCs.

Your reward for super-sleuth diligence is usually a cutscene during which the story is moved forward, your point total is raised, and the next set of interactive objects and round of conversations are now available.  The game will stop at nothing to cause players to wrongfully accuse suspicious behavior and second guess every piece of evidence revealing a character’s true colors.  Your overall rating at the end of a chapter comes in the form of a point total.  Points are deducted based on the number of hints you needed (tallied by number of uses of your notebook) and the number of times the ‘Square’ button was used (a feature that highlights all of the on-screen interactive objects).  Coupled with a few optional objectives that can be missed, the perfectionist will have reason for a second or third playthrough.

Visuals:
With such a high percentage of the environment consisting of pre-rendered, immobile artwork, there is great potential for beautiful scenery and detailed surroundings.  Unfortunately, the graphics are another aspect of the game that pale in comparison to the PC version.  The resolution seems foreign and out of place, especially during inventory selection as jumbo icons crowd the screen.  Rough-edged magnifying glasses and mock images of the Dualshock 3’s buttons highlight the points of interest rather illegibly.

The Raven - 5

The lack of detail in the character models seems to be an art decision, not inferior technical prowess.  King Art has achieved a balance somewhere between claymation and the cartoony style of the Walking Dead games by Telltale.  The environments are the visual highlights, presenting themselves early on. At the beginning of the game, while traveling on a train, the shrubbery passing by the large windows at high speeds is tastefully done and never choppy.  There are not however any real time shadows or lighting effects that I noticed.

Audio:
The looping melodies that provide this game’s soundtrack are never annoying or overbearing.  This is a key portion of the experience because players will spend several hours traversing the same small areas while conducting their investigations and hoping for new developments.  The tunes need to allow players to mellow out and that much is achieved.  While the music seems befitting of the ambiance, a relaxing train ride through a luscious forest or a sunny trip aboard a lavish cruise ship, it does nothing to emphasize the underlying tragedies of thievery and murder.

The voice acting is purposely monotonous, probably to effectively blend with the music, and painfully slow.  I found myself almost exclusively reading the dialogue much faster that it was being spoken just so that I could move on.  The game is very accommodating in this sense, never skipping a beat while jumping to the next line of text at the player’s will.  The voices almost stereotypically fit the character types with a dopey actor for the foolish cop, a debonair accent for the charming inspector, and a valley-girl pitch for the rich, spoiled brat.

The Raven - 4

Online/Multiplayer:
This game is single player only.

Conclusion:
The true measure of a mystery in any medium, be it game, book, graphic novel, or movie, is in its ability to compel its audience to continue the story in suspense-induced glee.  The Raven: Legacy of a Master Thief does just that while offering the unique ability to experience the story from both sides of law enforcement.  The plot twists, surprise events, and mind-bending occurrences are here in spades, and I almost never predicted that next ah-ha moment.  Aside from a few control hiccups, visual glitches, and some instances of frustrating gameplay, The Raven: Legacy of a Master Thief entertains from beginning to end and provides an accessible entry into an all but lost genre.

Score:
8.0

* All screenshots used in this review were provided by the publisher.

Written by Emrah Rakiposki

Emrah Rakiposki

– Food
– Video games
– Rap music
It has been my life’s work to properly order the list of this world’s greatest pleasures. There is no right answer.

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  • ChazzH69

    Surprised that Move support isn’t an option with this title. Shocked to see it receive such a high score considering the beating it got during the review, it must have a worthwhile story.

    • embelievable

      It sure does. As someone who doesn’t have much experience with point and click adventures, I expected to be easily bored and unimpressed. I’m glad I got to experience it. Did I give it a beating? I said nice things in the conclusion. 😉