What I love about KING Art Games is their love of the adventure game/point-and-click genre. Recently we had Black Mirror, which I thought was great, and they also created the iconic ‘Book of Unwritten Tales’ series. The team are back with a remaster of a beloved game (for myself at least), The Raven: Legacy of a Master Thief, which is coming to PS4, PC, Mac and Xbox One on the 13th March 2018. The team, who are published by THQ Nordic, have taken the original classic and gave it a touch-up whilst eliminating any performance issues the original had – whilst introducing a few new ones. I would say that this is hands-down the best non-Poirot Poirot game (that’s not VR – talking about you The Invisible Hours) that you’ll play this generation.
The Raven was a criminal mastermind of the 1960’s – he would network and mingle with the upper-class by day as he cased the joint, and then swoop in and take all the priceless artefacts at night whilst giving the police the run-around as they try and track him down. This is until one night when the lead inspector on his case managed to track down the Raven and shoot him – thus closing the case on the Raven.
Suddenly, a few years later, a priceless artefact is stolen and a calling card is left, a simple raven feather. Is the Raven still alive? If so, who is he and where will he strike next? The lead detective received a tip that the sister-stone of the one which was stolen is to also be taken by the recently reincarnated ‘Raven’ so they devise a number of traps in order to catch him whilst transporting it to Cairo. With the help of a Swiss policeman by the name of Zellner, can the man who thought he killed the original Raven find and capture his old foe or is it too late?
As you embark on your journey of lies, betrayal and mystery, you will take control of three characters, interact with many others, solve puzzles, and visit stunning locations such as the Orient Express, Cairo and aboard a luxury cruise ship. Not only that, there are more twists and turns than a 70’s disco dance-floor as you uncover who the Raven is and why they decided to come back into the spotlight.
The game is played through various perspectives over all three of the episodes (all of which are available immediately) with your first, and the longest time, being spent as Constable Anton Zellner. Zellner is basically Poirot, only a Swiss and not a Belgian. He is a very successful cop with a love for mysteries and whodunnit style scenarios. Later on, you will go back in time and play through the game from the perspective of the criminal and re-enact the various things they did – I absolutely love this mechanic as you get to see why things were set up the way they were, how things came to be and the whole thought process from both perspectives and how they intertwine. It also beats having a simple cutscene of the criminal explaining himself at the end of the game, which is all you usually get.
Gameplay is simple, walk around with the analogue stick, interact with Cross or Circle, open your inventory with Triangle and get a hint with Square. The game is great for those out there, like myself, who love a good challenge and a game you have to think about, as just like Black Mirror we have inventory puzzles, environment interactions, a lot of missable trophies to discover, and a great story with a fair amount of twists and turns. I’ve played the game on PC and PS3 previously and I’ll get to the remaster later one, but this version feels a lot more responsive, more polished and easier to control/work with.
The main event of the game has got to be its puzzles – don’t go into this game thinking you can just walk right through the game like a TellTale game and expect to be hand-held all the way with very little to think about. These guys never opt for the simple puzzles – just look at Black Mirror and The Book of Unwritten Tales (Seriously, do – they are awesome). Let’s take the first ‘puzzle’ as an example – you bump into a flustered professor aboard the Orient Express (yet another nod towards Poirot) who has found himself locked out of his room – yet he hasn’t got a key and there is no steward around. Without spoiling the solution – you basically have to borrow an item to break into a drawer, which is where you will find the means to get into a hidden toolbox. A tool you find in there can be used to open the door and finally regain entry. However, in order to know about any of this, you must first talk to everyone, find out what they know and compile a knowledge of who has what. There are no Moon-Logic Puzzles (impossible to figure out puzzles), but your little grey cells are kept active at all times.
The second main part of the game, which I touched on above, is the interaction with other characters. As you progress throughout the story, talking to various people and gaining intel is a big part of what triggers the next set of events to happen. I’m glad to say, both the dialogue and the voice acting are exceptionally good within The Raven from Zellner all the way down to Matty, a young Ginger kid who we only speak to a few times. Zellner acts like he wants to prove to himself and to everyone around him that he is as good as the detectives he reads about in his favourite whodunnit novels. The conviction, emotion and nuance delivered in every line of dialogue really help create a believable character who is both excited by the case and also intrigued as he uncovers new information on the mastermind.
Throughout the game you will see Zellner fail, succeed and overcome in many different situations but you will always be rooting for him as the character is incredibly likable – which can make or break a game, just look at Max Payne 3 – great game but people hated it as they didn’t like the way Max was portrayed. As you talk to people, you will discover about their troubled past, their secrets, and even very subtle hints on what to do next – the writing feels like it has jumped straight out of an Agatha Christie book and slapped Zellner right in the face.
In terms of locations, I have played point-and-click games that give you full reign of a city or area, such as Back to the Future or The Inner World, and whilst these are great, finding that one key interaction to move on can sometimes be a bit of a pain. In The Raven, you are placed in small, enclosed areas such as the Orient Express, a cruise ship and within an Egyptian museum – some may see that as a lack of diversity but I see it as a way to keep the action contained and the story flowing easily. You may be backtracking a bit (which helps that the loading times aren’t too long) and talking to the same set of people for the majority of the game, but you always learn something new and have enjoyable conversations. One of the good things about keeping it enclosed is that the developers can really build on the personality of each character and offer dialogue which is both there to distract you and offer hints – how you interpret the information comes down to how well your little grey cells work.
One of the stand-out features of this game, which stood out back in 2013 and still does today, is the scoring convention. Every time you do certain events, which are usually side-events like finding the Baroness’ purse or collecting all evidence of a crime without leaving an area, you receive an influx of points. At the end of the chapter, all your points are tallied up and you are given a grade of Amateur, Advanced or Master Detective – each with its own PSN trophy. This can offer replayability as it gives you a reason to go back and replay a chapter if you didn’t make the top tier. Achieving the high score also unlocks bonus items such as concept art, the soundtrack, and even a video of the theme music being played by a live orchestra (which is really cool).
Now onto the technical side – the game looks great. Okay, it’s an artistic design which is between realistic and cartoon (the developers didn’t want it too child-friendly as it isn’t a kids game), so the art style holds up on anything – throw it on a Wii and it would probably look just as good – however, KING Art Games have fully remastered the animations, lighting and hair in full HD along with applying the odd polish here and there. So, even though the game looks very similar to the previous version (especially on PC), there are a lot of minor improvements which increases the enjoyment of the game.
Previously, on the Ps3, the movement would be a little jerky, you would occasionally get stuck on things, Zellner would just stop (as if in thought) before performing actions, and the quality of some cutscenes and up-close shots weren’t that great. These have all been addressed and throughout my 10+ hours of playing, and platinuming, this remaster I had no such issues and the game looked pretty good for a simple remaster.
One thing this remaster has introduced, which I don’t remember in the original, is screen tearing. Which is a shame. On my PS4 Pro in some scenes, you can see the screen tearing as the game plays out – usually on in-game cutscenes and only for a few seconds. However, it is there and I really wish it wasn’t.
Sound-wise I don’t think anything has been changed for the remaster but personally, it didn’t have too. The soundtrack is great, the voice acting is perfect and the ambient sounds/sound effects are all spot on. In an adventure game like this, the sound is one of the most important aspects as it helps draw you in and keep you interested in the action that’s taking place – The Raven pulls this off without an issue.
Now, looking at the above you would think I had no issues with the game and as a person who has completed it on PC numerous times and on PS3 twice – I didn’t. However, looking at it from the outside, some of the inventory puzzles could be a little confusing at first as could where to go next if you’re unsure on who to talk to and what to do. You could press Square and use a hint but it will reduce your score and could result in losing out on the Master Detective award. Alternatively, you could look up a walkthrough as all the trophies and the game are the same (except the forensic trophy has been scrapped in this version) – but I would only say to do that as a last resort – try and play it on your own first. Some of the loading times are a little excessive (like maybe 10-15 seconds for a new scene) but they aren’t as bad as the long loading times in Black Mirror.
Another thing which I guess could affect peoples view is the pacing. As I mentioned above, I think the pacing is great as you are enclosed and can’t really go wrong – however, if you haven’t played the game before then you could be shocked as too how slow the game is. Zellner is a middle-aged overweight cop who can’t run, only waddle around, and in between the exciting events are usually a lot of talking and investigating. This leads to a game that will easily take 12-15 hours to complete if you are new to the game. For me, that’s great, but I know a lot of people just like to see action after action after exciting events.
First 25 mins on a PS4 Pro:
The Raven: Remastered is a great point-and-click adventure game with an enticing story which will have you hooked through all it’s twists and surprises right until the final scene. The soundtrack and voice acting are easily on-par with a certain Belgian detective’s films and TV shows, with each actor coming across as genuine and believable and you’re always rooting for and hating the people the game intentionally wants you too. I’m hoping we see more from both THQ Nordic and KING Art Games Games moving forward as they clearly love what they do and are masters of the genre. Can’t recommend enough to fans of murder mysteries, point-and-click, and adventure games.
**A code for the game was provided by the publisher for review purposes**
The Raven: Remastered
- Great voice acting and soundtrack
- Compelling story which keeps you thinking as an arm-chair detective
- Runs really well on modern consoles
- Plenty of inventory puzzles
- Not too hard but also not too easy
- The remaster has introduced screen tearing in some scenes
- Some solutions may seem a little farfetched if you haven't played before
- No new scenes/dialogues/extras as part of the remaster
- Walking around can be a bit slow and tiresome as the overweight Zellner