The Raven Preview: Hunting a Master Thief in 1963

The preview I played of The Raven, which was the start of the game through a few hours, took a pretty slow-burn approach to the action. You’ll start by trying to find the Baroness’ lost purse and open the professor’s locked cabin. Clues begin to accumulate as to what’s really going on with the trap for the burglar on the train, and the most interesting part is gathering details yourself as you try to compile who might be responsible. Mystery fans will have some things to like here.

But it’s not exactly highly challenging. It might be the closed nature of the train, or the early portion of The Raven’s story, but one will never have to go looking too hard for the right item to solve the next puzzle. Solutions tend to be pretty obvious and include the one or two objects you can click in any given vicinity.

That’s not necessarily a bad thing, it just might indicate that The Raven swings toward the easier end of puzzle-solving. For some players, that might be a refreshing change: Adventure games have a tendency to get a little esoteric in their puzzle solutions, and it’s arguable that finding puzzles to be a touch easy is better than having to hunt down solutions from online guides. A few other big adventure games, like some of those from Daedalic Entertainment like Deponia 2 or Harvey’s New Eyes, have a tendency to skew toward the tougher end of things. Which is better depends on your experience and expectations as a player.

But from a story perspective, The Raven does a great job of intriguing the player with an unfolding mystery and a protagonist who’s more than he seems, as well. There aren’t necessarily many games in any genre that cultivate tales in this vein, and despite the puzzles being on the easier side in the early going of The Raven, the overall mystery feels like it could be much more interwoven and exciting. Without spoiling too much, the trip on the Orient Express isn’t all gorgeous landscapes and polite conversations — the action ramps up before long.

The Raven: Legacy of a Thief hits Steam on July 23. Keep an eye out for our review next week to see if the game rises to the promise of the preview.

Read more of Phil Hornshaw’s work here, and follow him and Game Front on Twitter: @philhornshaw and @gamefrontcom.

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