The Raven: Legacy of a Master Thief is an homage to the classic whodunits. Several years ago, French detective Nicolas Legrand shot and killed the master thief called The Raven. Now, in 1960s Paris, a thief whose modus operandi is remarkably similar, is on the loose, and has stolen a precious stone. You play as Anton Jakob Zellner, a Swiss policeman, as he assists Legrand in finding this thief, whether Legrand likes it or not. Zellner questions suspects and witnesses, finds and analyzes clues and solves puzzles. And, what begins as a mission to track down a new master thief, turns into a dangerous game with murder on the table.
As in any classic mystery, the story and characters of The Raven are the centerpiece. Each character is a caricature of classic mystery tropes, from the mysterious and beautiful movie star, to the womanizing musician who moves from pursuit to pursuit. Another woman writes murder mystery novels, in a mystery story, practically making her a digitized version of Murder, She Wrote‘s Jessica Fletcher. This sounds negative, but the characters really are a lot of fun. Their dialog is very well-written, and you actually want to speak to each one to find out not only their thoughts on the situation, but more about their backgrounds.
Unfortuntely, these characters don’t look great. Each one is unique, and they certainly fit their trope, but the level of detail in the models is very low. I even saw characters clipping on themselves, like Zellner’s badge clipping through his uniform. The same cannot be said about the environments, however. They are bright, colorful, and wonderfully detailed. It is a stark contrast that doesn’t necessarily detract from the experience, but is still quite noticeable.
The gameplay in The Raven is somewhat standard point-and-click adventure fare. You interact with objects, pick up inventory items, and speak with characters. Players receive points for each action they perform, with an overall score given at the end of the game. Each time you move along a conversation with another character, examine key environmental objects, or solve puzzles, you are given points. These points can be spent to highlight the environment or buy hints, should the player become stuck. This is a welcome addition to any adventure game, since the pixel-hunting and puzzle-solving for which the genre is famous can become tedious.
It is here that King Art Games sidesteps major problems in the genre. The number of objects in the environment that can be interacted with is not overwhelming, and, once you have heard all of the information from an object, it is no longer usable. Even more importantly, the puzzles just make sense – the developers describe the puzzles as having “Hollywood realistic” solutions, and, while the puzzles were not necessarily obvious, the solutions made sense. There is no blind combination of items with the hopes that something, anything, works. When I needed to move into a burning area full of smoke, a wet towel kept Zellner cool enough to do so. Bullet lodged into a crate? A screwdriver can pry it loose. It is a refreshing change when compared to most games in the genre. Adding to that, there are no penalties for answering questions incorrectly, and no player deaths. The pace is rather relaxed – King Art Games is telling a story, and they’re making sure the player can enjoy it. The game also autosaves at regular intervals, with the added option of saving anywhere, ensuring that you’ll never have to repeat much when you come back to the game.
The inspiration of authors like Agatha Christie and Josephine Tey is obvious in The Raven: Legacy of a Master Thief. It is a classic mystery adventure with some refreshing gameplay designs and excellent characters. I finished Chapter One in around four hours, and I was on the edge of my seat by the end. King Art Games is promising that future chapters of the story will see the player in the role of other players in the story. The thought of playing as the titular Raven is intriguing, and I’m very interested to see where this story goes. The developers really have nailed the art of the mystery with Chapter One. Do yourself a favor, and go add The Raven: Legacy of a Master Thief to your collection right now.
Review copy provided by publisher.
This review is based on the PC version of the game.