I’ve always been a fan of adventure games, as the focus on story and puzzles always does a nice job scratching my particular video game itch. The Raven: Legacy of a Master Thief is a new point-and-click adventure game friendly to genre novices with a solid cast of characters that occasionally manages to border on something really good. Unfortunately, with a mediocre set of puzzles and a story with some pacing issues, this provides a satisfactory experience, but not much more.
You play as Constable Anton Zellner, an aging Swiss policeman with aspirations of finally doing something great. When the game starts, you are in the midst of escorting one of the two famed Eyes of the Sphinx, a pair of valuable jewels that recently became a singular valuable jewel once a thief managed to make off with the first one. This thief is going by the moniker of the Raven, a famous and beloved thief long believed to have permanently retired on account of being dead. Strangely, this most recent string of burglaries is decidedly more violent and less refined than some of his earlier works, leading to questions as to his authenticity as the Raven. As Zellner, you must protect the second Eye of the Sphinx while working on deducing the identity of the Raven and convincing the other members escorting the Eye that you even belong on the case in the first place.
The story draws heavily from the work of Agatha Christie, going as far as to put an obvious Agatha Christie insertion character right up front and center. The early portion of the game takes place on the Orient Express, and the main character basically jumps up and down to tell the fake, totally not Agatha Christie character how awesome and amazing she is. The reverence of Christie’s works is not necessarily a bad thing, as the various mysteries that pop up and the overall plot is interesting enough, even if there are several segments where the game seems to drag for no other reason than to pad out the content a bit. While it can get a bit plodding, it never really gets boring as the game has an undeniable charm that is infused into the dialogue and characters. This is a strong cast of characters, and they end up being far better developed than the disposable stock characters that can pop up in adventure games. These things manage to push the game through its weaker portions, like when the game has you walk around and try to find you way on a boat by just talking to people, which is less of a puzzle and more of a way you usually get on to boats.
The actual game part is divided into very segmented puzzle segments. The puzzles are fairly straightforward, and there are a handful that are no more complex than using a key to open a lock. There are typically only a couple of rooms you can walk through during each segment, and there is usually only one or two major puzzles to solve along the way. The most challenging aspect tends to be actually finding the things you need to find, and once you do the puzzles kind of solve themselves. More challenging puzzles would have been nice, because the most interesting things you do during the gameplay segments is walk around and talk to people to find out some more backstory.
This is a bite sized adventure game that is low on adventuring but high on charm. The puzzles are fairly lackluster and lack the muscle of more complex titles, but this sort of game could be very appealing to an adventure game newbie or someone looking to get into the genre. With a solid cast of characters boasting more depth than you might expect and an interesting set of mysteries to tackle and unravel, The Raven: Legacy of a Master Thief is worth checking out, especially if you like your adventure games on the easier side. I am looking forward to Episode 2, and not only because of the obnoxious cliffhanger Episode 1 ends on.