Mystery awaits in THQ Nordic’s latest rework of its 2013 game The Raven: Legacy of a Master Thief. The Remastered edition comes bundled with just the right amount of puzzle solving, wit, and charm as its counterpart, with some reworked animations as well as improvements to shading and lighting.
It's an often slow-paced point and click adventure game set in 1964, inspired by the same legion of mystery novels such as Agatha Christie’s Murder on the Orient Express. Much to the like of these novels, The Raven Remastered feels like a classic ‘whodunnit’ tale, split across three main arching narratives. One of its main leads is Swiss Constable Anton Zellner, a humorous but witty detective that you’ll be spending most of your time uncovering the story with.
Tragedy strikes as London’s most beloved jewel is suddenly stolen from a museum, and the masked vigilante, known as ‘The Raven’, is believed to be the main culprit; or someone of the like. On board the Orient Express (aptly named after Agatha Christie's aforementioned novel) is where you'll first become acquainted with a group of passengers, who Anton Zellner suspects may have some relations to this robbery. Other surprising revelations are uncovered thereafter.
Just like any key detective in a crime novel, a huge portion of the game revolves around becoming acquainted with these guests; from picking up on history and interests to figuring out if any of them have any correlation to the robbery. This takes place in the form of multiple choice questions/answers which mostly involve bloated and lengthy conversations that tend to linger far too long, and they can, at times, feel a little fatiguing to execute. When it’s kept brief, though, these characters can be delightfully fun to talk to with their varying personalities and quirks. You have your typical scheming doctor and glamorous femme fatale from the onset, but these characters surprisingly jeer away from their stereotypes as the story progresses, keeping the element of surprise at the forefront.
No crime drama is set without the art of careful inspection, and The Raven makes use of this. Through analysing paintings and objects, you're able to assemble and store these clues in your inventory, and to interact with your esteemed guests. These lead to some creative puzzle solving scenarios, such as distracting a violinist so you can rifle through their luggage unsuspected, or sweeten up a young boy with candy to get him to ‘fess up about other guests - it all feels delightfully mischievous. You’ll often need to double back and scour over an object three or four times, but thankfully the game doesn’t punish you for those clues you did happen to miss, allowing you the freedom to enjoy discovering them further.
The Raven: Remastered feels evidently influenced by murder mysteries of the past. A more striking aesthetic is its dedication to the 1960s for example, from vintage cars to tapestry to classic newspapers reporting on current events of the era. This, coupled with a crime-noir soundtrack and impressive voice acting from the cast — particularly from its main lead — work extremely well and in harmony. Unfortunately, the same cannot be said for its ghastly character models that, even with its slight reworking in this Remastered port, still appear as off-putting as ever. Along with this, character animations can feel a little clunky, with some instances where characters would get stuck in an animated loop when interacting with an object or character (much to our amusement).
The Raven also has a tendency to feel a little over dramatic and cliche at times. But to its credit, it doesn’t shy away from the fact. This humour can add light to its otherwise dark and intense moments dealing with weighty issues such as murder, but it also knows when and where to apply it. There are some occasional plot holes and loose ends we were often left puzzled by, with characters magically reappearing with no context as to how or when they got there, as well as some instances of bizarre cutscene transitions but, overall, these were a minor disturbance to an overall thrilling experience.
For newcomers to the mystery genre, The Raven Remastered is a fantastic game to whet your appetite. It'll take around 12 hours to complete - more if you want to be thorough and sit through its lengthy dialogue options. It comes bundled with a well-crafted story, delightfully bizarre characters to interact with, and just the right amount of puzzle solving to keep you satiated, though it’s not the prettiest of games to endure. Its faithful marriage to 1960s crime dramas is apparent, and we had fun unravelling its mysteries from start to finish, twists 'n' turns alike.