The Raven Chapter 3 Review: Not Quite Christie, But Still Fun

Puzzles, too, remain solidly engaging without being too difficult, so long as you don’t miss whatever it is you’re supposed to click on. The Raven’s point-and-click adventure game interface encourages you to scan everything with your mouse cursor to determine what’s interactive and what isn’t; it’s possible to get hints as to how to solve puzzles or to reveal interactive items, but those cost you “adventure points” and lower your overall score for the chapter.

Mostly, though, The Raven is easy enough for most players to make it through without the need for hints. Its puzzles tend to trend away from being overly esoteric, and you can usually see the solutions simply from the virtue of figuring out what’s interactive in a given moment. Fashioning a towel into a rope and a flag pole into an anchor so that you can climb down a ventilation shaft is a pretty obvious combination, for example, and it’s rare for a solution to be especially taxing. That puzzles are just easy enough helps keep the story’s pace up, in general.

More than the earlier two chapters, though, Chapter 3 suffers from some frustrating pathing issues and graphical glitches. The Raven has always had some trouble with pathing. Characters are moved around the screen by clicking where you want them to go, and sometimes they take a strange route or get momentarily hung up on the scenery. Up to now, it’s been a fairly minor complaint.

In Chapter 3, however, Adil and Patricia have a tendency to get stuck in places from which they can’t be rescued, and sometimes whole chunks of character animations will be missing or buggy. During one puzzle, in which Adil had to draw a museum security guard away from his post, the character would get stuck in place at the end of his animation, leaving a sort of empty hologram in the way. It didn’t affect gameplay — the puzzle related to the guard could still be solved — and yet it completely broke any immersion The Raven was building up to that point to have a frozen still of a character just stuck in the middle of the scene. Other graphical glitches mar the experience as well, and one even forced me to reload a save because I couldn’t unhook Adil from whatever bit of the world had ensnared him.

As for the story of Chapter 3, it’s ultimately pretty satisfying, although there’s some narrative sleight-of-hand at work in the conclusion that felt a bit like cheating on part of the game’s writers. Mysteries are at their best when all the information to solve them is available to the audience if they’re attentive enough. The Raven is great at this throughout Chapters 1 and 2, and even doubles back on itself to fill in gaps specifically to avoid any elements that might otherwise feel like they don’t make sense.

And yet, in the final moments, there are a few small but still bewildering occurrences happening in succession, mean to help things get wrapped up tightly. Characters popping up where they’re least expected with seemingly no way of learning what they know, for example, makes especially the last four or five minutes of the game feel weaker than the preceding few hours. It’s not too egregious, but the conclusion does feel as though it’s not as strong as the rest of the game. There’s some narrative cheating going on here to make the mystery come to an end the way the writers want it to.

The rest of the game is strong, however, and The Raven gets so much right throughout that it’s still definitely worth playing. The vast majority of the story is great, nailing the tone it sets out to invoke, providing deep characters, and including all the trappings and much of the expertise necessary to create an engaging and satisfying mystery story. A few missteps here and there don’t significantly detract from those elements, and the game’s conclusion is still a pretty smart one, even if it does seem to take some minor shortcuts to get where its’ going.

Pros:

  • Continues to fill in gaps of the game’s plot that make for a very solid mystery
  • Lots of deep characters keep the narrative interesting
  • Does a pretty good job of keeping the mystery solvable with information available to the player
  • Fun puzzles that are challenging without being too frustrating
  • Addition of a new player character further expands the game’s story and characters

Cons:

  • Story’s conclusion ultimately feels like it flubs the mystery a bit in favor of plot twists and wrapping things up neatly
  • Technical issues seem to be a much bigger problem in Chapter 3 than in earlier chapters
  • Pacing is still a little slow because of filling in gaps of the story from earlier chapters

Final Score (Chapter 3): 70/100
Final Score (All chapters): 72/100

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2 Comments on The Raven Chapter 3 Review: Not Quite Christie, But Still Fun

bob

On October 9, 2013 at 12:55 pm

Not being mean, well screw it i doubt you have read Agnatha Christie novel or novella in your life

Cho

On October 9, 2013 at 2:55 pm

I’ve never read Agnatha Cristie either, is she any good? Probably not as good as Agatha but might be worth a stab.