Point and click adventures used to be my game of choice when I was younger. I’d spend hours playing games like Broken Sword and Discworld, unlocking the mysteries piece by piece. For some reason though I stopped playing them. Perhaps the introduction of the Xbox 360 won me over with games like Call of Duty 3 and Tony Hawks Project 8, or perhaps I’d never really found a game which grabbed my attention quite like those two.
When I recieved The Raven – Legacy of a Master Thief, I have to admit that I sat on it for a say or two before playing it. I hadn’t heard much about the game so I wasn’t really too sure what to expect. What I did get though was a brilliant point and click adventure/mystery game which re-kindled my love for the humble genre.
I first heard about the game when I initially wrote about the interactive teaser that Nordic Games had released which gave some insight to the origins of The Raven, a master thief and how Inspector Nicolas Legrand came shoot who we believe to be the legendary art thief The Raven. The iOS/Android app was portrayed in this really classic looking 1960’s art style which lead me to believe the full game would also be of that style. It isn’t.
The Raven – Legacy of a Master Thief is a truly beautiful 3D masterpiece which really captures the era in which the game it set. The game is also split into three chapters with the first chapter being spoken about in this review.
Chapter 1 – The Eye of the Sphinx
As the game starts it immediately throws you in the middle of what feels like a 1960’s murder mystery thriller movie with the music being the first thing that struck me with its orchestral harmonies and perilous chords. The cut scene itself is also a treat to watch that throws you right into the action as you discover that some jewellery has been stolen. From here you’re then taken straight to the London Museum where you meet an innocent security guard who gets startled by Constable Oliver (who we’ll be seeing more of later) who watch the first “Eye of the Sphynx” gemstone get taken right before their eyes.
When you actually begin you find yourself on L’Orient Express on it’s journey from Switzerland to Egypt, at first it’s not too clear who you’ll be playing as, but as you click through the first few questions you’ll soon realise you’re taking the role of the most unlikely hero – Constable Anton Jacob Zellner, a fairly plump, 50 something Swiss Police Constable with a moustache to rival Agatha Cristie’s Poirot himself.
After a fairly linear conversation between Zellner and Inspector Legrand you soon realise that Legrand thinks of Zellner as an interfering pest but Zellner knows better, together we’ve sussed that Inspector Arsehole is only really there as a distraction in an attempt to trick and wrangle the real thief and as soon as we’ve made him aware of that he puts you on a little task to keep an eye on the fellow passengers.
Now, I love a good point and click adventure game, you already know that about me, but one thing that immediately let me down was how linear the questions became whilst talking to Inspector Arsehole. It begins with Legrand (Inspector Arsehole) trying to suss you out to see if you’re actually as good as a detective as you say you are. You’re given three answers to the question to choose from and even though I answered two of the questions wrong, Legrand dismisses your incorrect answer, and then continues to respond as if you answered correctly. Now, I understand that if The Raven – Legacy of a Master Thief had a similar questions mechanic to LA Noire then you’d probably never actually be able to play the game until you started again and answered the questions correctly – which isn’t very fun at all. It’s just a little saddening that the two separate dialogues don’t flow as well as they should and seem like two different responses spliced together.
That aside when you eventually get rid of Inspector Arsehole you’re given a brief tutorial which explains the concept of examining items, picking up items, putting items together, and using that combined item with an environmental object. If you’re familiar with point and click games, you’ll know what to do instantly.
Finally when that’s out of the way you begin your adventure on the train. Like with most classic point and click games you’re required to complete several mini objectives in order to get the big picture. I can’t really give you any examples without having to spoil the game. On that note I’ll move onto gameplay.
The movement of your character Constable Zellner is pretty fluid unless you accidentally click a little too far out of the designated walking zone, this will result in Zellner doing a sort of sidestep dance into a wall for a few seconds until you correct your footing. Overall though the game is pretty easy to navigate, you left click to examine, then left click again (if you can) to use, interact, or pick up the object. You also left click to interact with the train passengers to start a conversation and discover more about the suspicious cargo on the train. Working out what goes where has been made a little easier in this game too compared to the older classic’s I’m used to. Instead of the usual use “X” with “X” prompts, it makes it a little clearer like wrap “X” around “X” this then helped me understand what I was able to do and made it a little easier to know what I was doing.
What stood out to me in this game was the hint feature which allowed you to spend “Adventure Points” in order to highlight certain areas which you may have missed. At first I wasted a fair few points as I wasn’t too sure what or how the hints were “highlighted” but after I took a few seconds I realised that a magnifying glass briefly appears over areas that you can interact with. All I needed was a little patience..
The way the game is designed is really beautiful, as I mentioned before it really captures the essence of the 1960’s era. The furniture and design of the train you begin on shows fairly close attention to detail too – hell even the landscape of the Alps that whizzes by the window is impressive. The character design is done well with each character having a fairly fluid movement range, it’s still a little stiff, but it’s not uncomfortable to watch.
The characters themselves are done incredibly well, the voice actors really nail it on the head and you soon start to feel emotions towards certain characters in the game such as my instand hatred towards Inspector Legrande and his right hand man Constable Oliver, who believes everyone owes him something because he witnessed the first Eye of the Sphinx get stolen. Y’know, things like that.
I’ve put a fair few hours into this game so far and I still haven’t fully completed the first chapter. It’s also left me with an itch to get back onto the game as soon as I can because I actually want to know what happens next. Though the game can be slow at times when you need to hunt down that one crucial item or object in order to continue, it does actually flow really well with some fairly obvious prompts from Zellner himself hinting at what he needs to find or do to proceed.
The game lacks originality by far, but that doesn’t matter, it’s a classic feeling game with traditional controls which doesn’t require fancy bells and whistles. I like to take an “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it” attitude with The Raven – Legacy of a Master Thief. At the end of the day it’s the story itself which should be judged, not the point and click aspect of the game which I believe was perfected years ago. And in this game, the story is right up my street, it’s gripping, thrilling, and fun. It also got me guessing “who dunnit” almost instantly. I mean, why, or how was Constable Oliver in the London Museum?
The Raven – Legacy of a Master Thief: Chapter 1 – The Eye of the Sphinx is available to download on the 23rd July for PC, Mac and Linux on Steam for £6.79, you won’t have to buy all three chapters either as the game automatically updates! The game will also arrive later this summer via PSN and XBLA. Keep an eye out for our review of the next two chapters over the next two months.