If you’re a fan of old-fashioned detective yarns, a la Agatha Christie, then (deep breath...) The Raven: Legacy of a Master Thief - Chapter One - The Eye of the Sphinx will well and truly buff your bronze. You're thrust into the scuffed shoes of ageing crime-solver Anton Zellner, a Swiss policeman who finds himself caught up in the case of The Raven, a devious thief who was supposedly shot and killed years prior. Seems The Raven has come back from the dead to heist some more diamonds, and Zellner has to help foil his latest exploits in a gently-paced point n click adventure spread over three separate episodes (this being the first).
Trains, boats and diamond thieves
The Raven: Legacy of a Master Thief uses crisp 3D visuals for its environments, starting with an Orient Express-style steam train and finishing on a massive cruise liner. The environments look lovely throughout and for the most part we didn’t struggle to pick out tiny details and miniature hotspots. Even if you do skip over an essential object and find yourself stumped, you have the option to highlight all clickable areas at the expense of some of your gamer points, which are accrued every time you advance in the game. It’s a smart way of giving you help if you’re desperate, while encouraging you to use your wits instead.
Anton can be controlled entirely with the mouse, which keeps things simple: just click on the environment to stroll about and interact with hotspots. Generally this control scheme works well, although there were a few screens where we had to click several times to actually leave the area, as we weren’t clicking in exactly the right spot.
Although the graphics are pretty and colourful, the character models aren’t quite on par with games such as Heavy Rain. Some characters, particularly the jowly ones, look rather plastic. More disturbingly, almost all of them have a terrifying glassy gaze, the kind of thousand-yard stare you’d expect a serial killer to wear as they daydream about hacking up bones and devouring entrails. You soon get used to it and it’s a minor quibble at best, but that didn’t stop the haunted expressions from invading our nightmares and making us jolt awake in a cold sweat (at least, we hope it was sweat).
A large part of the gameplay involves moseying around and chatting with the other passengers, and the linear conversations hover precariously between charming and whimsical. You can skip through them quickly with a tap of the mouse button when they begin to drag, thankfully. That’s not to take away from the voice acting, which is pretty strong on the whole, and there are some amusing diatribes, but impatient gamers will likely be frustrated by the gentle pace and long gaps between eventful cutscenes.
Between all the nattering you'll be called on to solve the odd puzzle, and this is The Raven: Legacy of a Master Thief's strongest hand. While a lot of games we've reviewed lately such as Jack Keane 2 and Night of the Rabbit rely on surreal or wacky puzzles, The Raven's riddles are pretty much entirely based in reality. You'll be distracting people to have a sneaky peek at their belongings, hacking your way through locked doors and so on. The difficulty level isn't very steep so this is a good game to play through with the family on a Sunday afternoon.
The Raven: Legacy of a Master Thief - The Eye of the Sphinx is not just a mouthful, it's also a sweet - at times rather quaint - detective adventure game. Impatient players might rue the lengthy conversations but the intriguing mystery and well developed puzzles make it well worth a play, and we're willing to bet most point n click fans will stump up for episode two - especially given the rather sudden climax of part one.