When our venerable Editor-in-Chief asked our review team if we’d like to review The Raven Remastered, I was puzzled. This is a remastered game? Remastered from when? From what consoles? I’d never heard of the original title, so I had no idea why it would warrant a remaster. So it’s a point-and-click murder mystery adventure, but why is this particular one so special? I had to know.
It’s not the best looking adventure game to grace the PlayStation 4, but there’s just something about the story (and easy trophies) that will keep players pushing through, even when they think they’ve guessed the true culprit.
Ravens Don’t Make a Murder
Years ago, the Master Thief Raven was shot and killed during a heist in Paris. Now a new Raven has surfaced, possibly an “heir” to the Raven, but this Raven does more than simply steal. During a theft in London of one of the two Eyes of the Sphinx, the Raven set off an explosive to help him escape. Inspector Legrand caught the Raven the first time, and he’s determined to catch this so-called heir. The Raven didn’t get away with that Eye in London, so Legrand has this grand idea to set a trap for the Raven to try to steal it once again whilst on the way to Cairo for a special exhibit. To Legrand’s chagrin, the Swiss police have demanded one of their constables accompany Legrand to Venice, simply because the train they are taking runs from Zurich to Venice.
Enter Constable Anton Jakov Zellner. He’s past his prime. He’s pudgy. He looks like he’d be worthless if push ever came to shove. And he’s the player’s character. He’s also as corny as you would expect, but like Legrand, we have to take what we’re given, for better or for worse. At the same time, Zellner is a wonderful reminder to Legrand and the rest of us to never judge a book by its cover.
Naturally, nothing goes as planned, and a cornucopia of crazy characters all become mashed together in a twisted murder mystery. Suddenly Planes, Trains, and Automobiles looks tame in comparison.
Solve Puzzles By Winging It
Like any good point-and-click, Zellner has to solve puzzles in order to progress. When Professor Lucien is locked out of his train cabin, it’s not a simple matter of finding the Steward to unlock the door. Instead, Zellner has to devise a way to break into one of the Steward’s locked drawers, use the key in there to access a toolbox outside one of the train cars, remove the proper tools, and then get Lucien back into his private cabin by removing the lock. While some of the puzzles have their reasons for being so padded, most do not, and it’s annoyingly obvious when it’s a simple padding maneuver.
Seriously, I can’t just switch on a light? I have to gerrymander a lamp together, and then when it’s all put together, it still won’t work because I need to find something to scrape the rust off the bulb connector? It’s fine to implement these puzzles early on, as sort of a tutorial to get the player into the groove, but these should not crop up during the last couple of hours.
Of course, there are the puzzles that never really seem to come into logical sense. Almost in true Double Fine fashion, I solved a few puzzles by attempting to create combinations of the items I held in my inventory. It was never fork plus shoelace equals helicopter insane, but some of the solutions definitely bordered on it.
Thus Quoth the Raven
The story is charming, the puzzles are fun little brain teasers, and better yet, I didn’t see the ending coming. That said, it has a number of technical issues. For a simple game that doesn’t push any engine close to a limit, it’s rather ridiculous to have as much clipping and texture popping as this title does. The art style is already difficult to look at, so any time a character’s hand goes through a door or another character, it’s an even bigger eyesore.
It doesn’t help the overall aesthetic that most of the voice acting is extremely forced and heavy-handed.
Character movement is also janky to control, mostly because of the way the characters turn their heads to fixate on an actionable object. Trying to get Zellner to walk between the train bar and a table was an incredible exercise in patience. I have no idea what his feet were getting caught up in that prevented him from moving forward, but whatever it was plagued him wherever he went.
Thank goodness the mystery itself made up for these technical blunders.
I started The Raven Remastered with a bit of a soured opinion. Here was this game I had never heard of getting a remaster, it looks like an original Pixar attempt at making human features, and the dialogue is cheesier than the Power Rangers reruns my sons enjoy. I’m so glad I didn’t rely upon first impressions, because like Constable Zellner, the game is deeper than it looks and has a story that will keep players guessing. I couldn’t ask for much more in a great whodunnit.
The Raven Remastered review code provided by publisher. Version 1.00 reviewed on a standard PlayStation 4. For more information on scoring please see our Review Policy here.