For some reason, it seems like more and more adventure games are being released on an episodic basis. I don’t even know when this became a thing, but I hate it so much. RPGs couldn’t get away with this; if you released your game one dungeon at a time, you wouldn’t even make it to the third dungeon before people showed up to your office with pitchforks and torches. These episodic release schedules are detrimental for two reasons. First, by releasing a new episode every month or so, you are considerably weakening my appreciation of the story. I don’t watch movies in half an hour chunks every week because I’d have no idea what’s going on by the time I got around to finishing the film. Secondly, episodic games leave me in a weird position as a reviewer, because after I recommend a game based on the first episode being fun, the second episode comes out and belches loudly before passing out in a pool of its own filth and failure, making me feel bad if someone ends up buying the game based on my initial recommendation. So, let me just say I’m sorry to all those that bought The Raven: Legacy of a Master Thief based on my Episode 1 review, because if I had been able to play through Episode 2 from the start, my recommendation would have been even more tepid.
Episode 2 picks up right where Episode 1 ended, and resolves that obnoxious cliffhanger within the first couple of minutes. From there, you actually wrap up the big mystery of the game within the first hour or so in what is usually classified as a spoiler as most stories wait until the end to resolve things. However, this must have been important for the overall plot because the remainder of the game is told from a different character’s perspective starting from the very beginning of things in Episode 1. It was an interesting idea swapping perspectives to someone new and fleshing out some of the unsolved mysteries from the first game, but because the rest of the game is just rehashing events and locations it feels like Episode 2 peaks about an hour in and just meanders around for the rest of the game taking you on a sightseeing tour. The other character is nice and all, but it honestly feels like most of the story here couple have been explained in a couple of asides during the final confrontation and absolutely nothing of value would have been lost. At best this feels like a side story. At worst, this is blatant padding included to extend the length of the game.
Even worse than the story are the puzzles, which are even less interesting than the simple ones offered up in the last episode. There is perhaps one interesting puzzle in the entire game that shows up within the first hour or so, and the rest of the game fails to offer up anything else remotely interesting. Episode 2 takes essentially the same format as the first game, giving you multiple set pieces with one or two puzzles to solve before moving you on to the next area. Unfortunately, the areas this time around seem smaller and there are less things to do in each of them. This is even more noticeable once you switch perspectives as the second character is primarily sneaking around to avoid suspicion. A major point in the first episode’s favor were the interactions between Zellner, constable and all around good guy, and the rest of the characters accompanying him on his journey. Unfortunately, since the second character is trying to sneak around these interactions are basically removed from the second half of the game, giving you the same kind of lackluster puzzles of the first game without the enjoyment that came from the dialogue.
Without being able to get my hands on Episode 3 yet, it’s hard to recommend the series at this point. The first episode, while not outstanding, was entertaining and had a certain charm to it that carried it through the rougher patches. It seemed to be building up to some big reveal, which allowed me to ignore some of the more minor issues with the story. Unfortunately, Episode 2 can’t hold in its excitement and spoils the big twist about halfway in and the rest of the game suffers for it. It deemphasizes the dialogue and mystery (my favorite aspects of the first episode) and instead focuses on needless backstory and puzzles. If you haven’t already purchased the game, wait until Episode 3 comes out to see if The Raven: Legacy of a Master Thief can provide any sort of suitable ending.