The Raven: Legacy Of A Master Thief - The Eye of the Sphinx Review
Can the first episode in The Raven trilogy help to dampen the annual summer drought, or simply wither and die in this ridiculous weather? Find out the forecast in our review of The Eye of the Sphinx.
Published on Jul 19, 2013
When Troy Baker puts on a Texan drawl and is regarded as faintly exotic by all and sundry, one might think many video games are made solely for American beneficiaries.
How refreshing it is to see KING Art Games take the path less travelled, installing a portly Swiss constable as its star, one Anton Jacob Zellner in their point-and-click adventure The Raven: Legacy of a Master Thief.
Following the theft of one of two precious Sphinx Eyes from the British Museum by The Raven, a master thief believed to have been shot and killed months before, Constable Zellner is assisting the transit of the second jewel, during its brief stint across the Alps, aboard the Orient Express.
So far so noir, however The Raven is anything but Poe-faced. The colour palette is vivacious, each surface looking crisp and charmingly clinical, lit from all directions with a warming glow, and faintly reminiscent of TinTin. The Orient Express especially is as plush and elaborate as one would expect, with its intricacies never too conspicuous.
A wonderful touch lies in Zellner's inventory, containing nothing but his wallet and prescription heart medication by default, his strength in character lying on his position as an underdog and unlikely hero; an ageing policeman given his final chance to prove his worth, if only to himself.
No items or interactive objects glow in the dark, or have that brazen glossy sheen, if stuck or puzzling for clues, points accrued by solving prior mysteries or instances are momentarily indicated by an ominous hovering magnifying glass. Each view is cheap enough to mean they can be used freely, but will inevitably impact upon your final score, should perfection be your forte.
Virtually every puzzle follows a fairly intelligent and well-thought line of logic, making each both accessible to virtually anyone with a half-functioning brain, but only if set to Poirot mode. One instance sees Zellner requiring a fellow passenger be distracted, a billowing arse who moans about the windows being open, but will immediately dash to keep them firmly closed. So jam it open, perhaps? But what with?
These miniature half-puzzles keep the entire gaming sauntering along at a gentle pace, and even then pointing and clicking is momentarily segmented by a couple of brief, but not unnecessary minigames, such as bending a piece of wire to pick a lock, or playing shuffleboard with a child.
Much like the core gameplay, The Raven also comes equipped with the tight and rather succinct story, shame much of it feels like cut scenes incognito. Most are purely ex positional, and offer little in the way of interactivity, even when Zellner is disarmingly charming. The dialogue throughout is well delivered, with a hint of whimsicality, it never takes itself overly seriously, but this lack of player involvement can make the game aspect feel a little superficial in places.
Encounters with characters seem pre-determined, and although dialogue options are present, the player merely gets to choose in which order queries are put forward. Characters can't be annoyed or swayed beyond there rigidly defined perameters, and in spite of the solid writing and voice acting, we'd forgive the player for skipping most of it.
If LA Noire is noir then The Raven is surely blanc. With the pleasant scent of whimsical delight hanging in the air, The Raven is as colourful to the eyes as it is to the soul, buoyed further by its jaunty soundtrack, making a wholly uplifting ride.
However, its desire to be bridge the gap of interactive cinema, keeping point-and-click adventure as the sole outlet for gameplay makes much of The Raven feel shallow and disconnected and crucially, its lack of ambition is clear for all to see.