Wot I Think: The Raven – Part Three

By John Walker on September 23rd, 2013 at 7:00 pm.

In an interesting, if perhaps ultimately less than ideal experiment, King ART games released their point and click adventure, The Raven: Legacy Of A Master Thief, in three chapters over three months. Seemingly modeling, well, nothing else, this chapter format has certainly obscured the game. With the final part out tomorrow, does this pick up the pieces after a very soggy middle? Here’s wot I think:

To catch up, you can read my thoughts on the genuinely superb first part of The Raven here, and on the extremely disappointing second release here. I’ve entirely avoided spoilers below, which as anyone who’s played the first two parts will know, is a touch limiting in terms of story description. The basic events of the second chapter are mammoth spoilers for the first, so I’ve avoided saying anything specific about that aspect.

Sleeping policeman. AHAHAHAHAHAHAHA.

Well, the ending is a load of old nonsense. But thankfully, getting there in the third part of this point and click adventure is a lot more fun than the second, if still coming nowhere near the first.

Clocking in at around three hours, it’s again a disappointingly short chapter, but it’s a pretty dense one. You play as two different characters, one who’s never been available before, and unravel the remaining mysteries left over in this tale of murder and jewel heists.

Which of course makes it pretty tricky to write anything at all about, since a lot of people will have been waiting until this final review before deciding whether to buy what should have been one complete game in the first place. Really, the game breaks into two halves, and always should have been released that way, the first half far, far better than the second. Releasing its flabby middle section as a unique chapter will likely be the mistake that haunts this production, but now with all three parts unlocked you can at least play through without that two month gap.

What was originally a story about semi-retired Constable Zellner, Swiss policeman and Poirot tribute, pursuing the re-emergence of a master thief known as The Raven, eventually offers multiple perspectives on the same stories, as you see how the thieves themselves went through Zellner’s tale. And that’s a bit of a shame, since playing as Zellner was The Raven’s masterstroke, a comfortable, gentle old man, calmly and pleasantly solving mysteries with a wry smile on his face. Losing that aspect in the game’s second half is never really made up for, and begins to feel like a much more generic Euro-adventure, in which the routine of talking to everyone and clicking on everything loses a lot of its charm.

This third release may certainly be more interesting and fulfilling than the second, but it also continues the development of multiple issues and confusions. There’s a prolonged and relatively dull section in which you must have your character speak to a number of people aboard the cruise ship to learn about various pieces of art. It’s to open a combination lock. Except, finish learning about the pieces and, er, you don’t get to even try to lock. You just had your time wasted for no goal. It also starts jumping about the story a little too liberally, with what should have been puzzles to solve replaced by a leap forward in time and events having happened when the screen went blank.

As for the ending itself, it’s just daft. You may or may not have guessed it, but you can’t congratulate yourself if you did. The excuses for the contradictions it has with what actually happened are ridiculously weak, so you just have to roll your eyes and move on. Fine, sure, but no one’s going to pretend it was clever.

Where does that leave the finished game? At £21 for the lot, it’s not bad. At £15 I’d be saying any adventure fan should get it, but the declining quality and loss of what made the first chapter so adorable makes it tougher to enthusiastically recommend at the full price. As for all the promotional nonsense that’s been taking place, with adverts in the Times newspaper appealing for the identity of the Raven, it demonstrates a lack of an understanding of how the game was poorly structured for that. What with the game announcing who the Raven is at the midpoint, it takes away any drive from the player to know what mystery it is they’re supposed to be solving. With better structure, or just a game that had more heavily focused on Zellner throughout, this could have been a real winner. As it is, it’s still worth playing for the lovely first half, and tolerating the second.

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19 Comments »

  1. Davka says:

    What a shame they lost the Poirot feeling :/

    • geerad says:

      Whoa, that Poirot feeling,
      They’ve lost that Poirot feeling,
      Now it’s gone, gone, gone
      Whoa-oa-oa-oa

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      Oozo says:

      Well, if you insist on having more Swiss policeman action, you can always refer to Polizischt Wäckerli:

  2. PopeRatzo says:

    Wow, I don’t remember a September this slow in the PC gaming industry in a long long time. By now, we should have seen a few AAA titles coming out. I mean, there’s nothing. You have to go back to 2012 to see anything really decent.

    I’ve never before felt that it’s either finally break down and get a console or just give up playing. I hate consoles, but it seems that nobody wants my money.

    • SominiTheCommenter says:

      I don’t know if you heard of a little game called GTAV. Is the gaming equivalent of an eucalyptus.

    • Dominus_Anulorum says:

      Um, Europa Universalis 4, Rome 2, Metro: Last Light, Bioshock Infinite, Company of Heroes 2,and Saint’s Row 4, just off the top of my head, all came out in 2013. Some just came out recently. And there are probably a couple I completely missed. September might be a bit slow, but I’m confused as to why this was a bad year? Also, why does an article on an adventure game make this a slow month? I love adventure games. It is interesting news for me.

      • S Jay says:

        “September”

      • PopeRatzo says:

        Look at your list. Come up with some more blockbusters of 2013. Take your time. The list won’t grow by more than a name or two. Less than half of your list are the type of games you’d spend 50-60 hours with. That’s my idea of a really great game. Make the same list for last year at this time and you had half a dozen GOTY candidates and there were still some biggies to come.

        Bioshock Infinite was a 6 hour playthrough. Something nobody’s going to go back and look at again. Same with Metro:Last light. Both fine for what they are, but basically not much in the way of value. Saints Row IV is SR3 DLC, and while it’s a fine game, worth every penny, it’s the same old same old.

        Where’s the Skyrim? The Far Cry 3? Something that as soon as your done you want to start over again? Where’s the top-drawer racing game (arcade or sim) like NFS: Most Wanted? Or even GTA IV? Sleeping Dogs? Maybe there will be a PC release of GTA V, maybe not, but it will be next year at the soonest. Maybe it’ll be Christmas 2014.

        No, there’s something wrong. PC gaming was in full renaissance until 2013. Maybe it’s got something to do with the Kickstarter Crack that people are smoking, where you can make money promising a game easier than you can releasing a game. The proverbial payback next Tuesday for a hamburger today.

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          RobF says:

          There’s nowt wrong. It’s the end of one console cycle and towards the end of the year, the start of a new one so we’re bound to be shorter on AAA content at this point, they’ll be aiming for PS4/XBONE releases as well as PC and as they’re not out yet…

          Anyway! Scribblenauts and Pacman this week though so screw everything else.

        • Dominus_Anulorum says:

          I am not saying 2013 was a better year than 2012, but that there were still great games that were released. Your original post made it sound like pc gaming was coming to an end, when it is not. And look at what is happening in 2014. We have DA: Inquisition and the Witcher 3, which looks like it might rival skyrim. Oh, and we might have a new fallout to look forward to, as well as the Wasteland 2, one of those kickstarter games that looks completely amazing. Not every year is going to be a big release year. It is when developers try to make it that way that we get things like Call of Duty and the madden franchise (which is on the console, but illustrates my point). Life is full of peaks and troughs. Why would this be any different?

    • JackMultiple says:

      That’s an interesting comment. I thought the same thing about the movie entertainment industry during these late summer months. It’s so bad in the US anyway, that metroplexes are having to fill-out their multi-theater cinemas with older (blockbuster) movies. That is, movies that came out earlier this year, left the theater, and now they’re BACK… why? to make up for a lack of good new movies?

      In particular, movies like Star Trek Into Darkness, Monsters University… titles that came and went some time ago, are back in the theaters. I find that very strange, except when I see there’s nothing much else I want to see right now. Although that’s about to change… can’t wait to see Gravity.

    • TehK says:

      I’m actually not unhappy with this. Gives me time to get through some older purchases (like Borderlands 2 and Tomb Raider) or have a go at some “time sinks” again (haven’t tried Brave New World and The Old Gods yet).

      What’s kind of missing this year more than AAA releases for me are the sort of “indie blockbusters” we had in the last two years. Bastion, Limbo, Super Meat Boy, FTL, Hotline Miami, Torchlight 2… something along those lines. At least that’s my impression – I could be totally wrong.

      But as someone mentioned Kickstarter… yeah, I’m kind of waiting for quite some games that I backed already last year. And if those are all released, I think, I will be quite happy with the amount of games to play ;)

  3. mr.black says:

    :reads the comment about the September:
    ..Aaanyways, I’m the adventure lover, so I’ll give this one a go sometimes in the future when the prices drop a bit. But definitely in one package, I can muster enough patience for that whole episodic shtick just for the best of the best (most anticipated) from say TT games..

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    Lacero says:

    I’m going to be slightly cynical and say releasing it in three parts did at least get it three times the coverage on RPS. And if they knew the first 1/3 was the best quality it seems it was an excellent decision.

    I’m assuming this will be in a steam sale one day, I’ll remember the name and pick it up then. I’ve always got time to spare for PnC adventures.

  5. tomimt says:

    I’m glad I decided to wait for all the three chapters to come out before purchase. From the sound of the reviews only the first part is worth the full price, so I’ll be looking out for a sale in the near future.

    • Acorino says:

      The Raven was released, but was and is not sold in parts.

    • TheSplund says:

      @ tomimt: Unlike the first to reply to your post, I understood what you meant – I’d have happily paid full price for the whole game if the first was representative of the overall adventure, but as it’s not, I too will wait for it dropping noticeably in price before I buy it* (if at all).
      *ie all three parts that constitute the purchase, when they become unlocked, as was fairly clear when/if you bought it before any subsequent installments remained to be unlocked (@ Acorino)

  6. Berzee says:

    Gwa! Now I’m torn, and don’t know if I should put this on my birthday list or not. I still want to be a quietly-moustached-detective-man, but daft endings are my bane.

    Hmmmm…