With the close of Chapter 3, The Raven: Legacy of a Master Thief turns what could have been a seminal mystery game into a mediocre adventure game. Through its over reliance on standard adventure game mechanics, and its inability to stay away from the “twist ending,” The Raven ends with a bit of a whimper compared to the bang with which it started. There is still enough of a good story to recommend it, and if you have come this far, not finishing it should be considered a crime, but I can’t promise that the ending won’t leave you a little nonplussed.
It’s absolutely impossible to discuss the story at any length this far in to completely avoid spoilers, so I won’t. Suffice it to say that it picks up exactly where it left off, back aboard the cruise ship, though the character you start off playing is different then the one that we ended Chapter 2 with. By the end of the story, you will have seen how all the loose strings of the narrative fit together. The twist at the end is neat, and makes sense when looking back, but it leaves a bit of a bitter taste, especially given all the groundwork laid in the first chapter.
In some what of a classic call back, the latter half of Chapter 2 and all of Chapter 3 is the long form of the detective’s explanation at the end of a mystery. In providing the point of view of different characters, it does liven up the rehashing of plot points, doing a great job in adding some extra drama to the already murderous boat ride, and some needed explanation as how The Raven expects to pull off his heist. As with the previous chapter, this back tracking leads to a bit of story breaking, but it’s a bit easier to deal with given the size of the cruise ship and the particular character you are following.
What it also manages to accomplish is making me miss some well established characters, whose appearances are kept amazingly short, and think about the misappropriation of resources, in regards to characters who were criminally under used. I am speaking of three characters in particular: Zellner, our protagonist from Chapter 1 and the first half of Chapter 2, Legrand, the supposed Master Detective, and Lady Westmacott, who turns out to be nothing more then simply a reference, in name, body, and spirit, to Agatha Christie. Two of them are virtually non-existent until the story begins to wrap itself up, and one of them, named specifically after the pen name of one of the all time great mystery novelists, turns into nothing more then an annoyed info dump. Given the direction of the story, I understand where they were and why they weren’t included, but it feels like all the work that went into making them possible standouts is lost in search of the most overused trope in mystery writing.
Also of note, is the return to Chapter 2′s adventure game-ness. While the first chapter was filled with fairly logical puzzles, Chapter 3 continues with the 2nd’s penchant for the illogical and non-apparent. While there were a couple of standouts, like the dachshund guarding the museum door, or the Axel Foley method to disarming a window alarm, we’re also forced to endure another bath towel = rope escapade, as well as a convenient secret door which just happens to be locked by a series of pushable bricks. The last is especially obtuse, and was the first time I checked the in game hints out of general need. It turns out it wasn’t thought provoking as much as hard to read, though I did enjoy the fact that the actual solution, which I had figured out, relies on a bit of foreign knowledge.
If you have gotten through the past two chapters already, there should be nothing holding you back from barreling through this one. Though this turned into more of an indictment of the third chapter, as a whole, The Raven is still a fine game, and a good mystery. While it seemed that it might be exploring some new ground with its take on common mystery tropes, like the bumbling constabulary, it eventually falls back on those common themes and ideas that mystery writers have used for decades. As an ode to Agatha Christie, The Raven does a more then fair job. As a mystery charting it’s own ground, it ends up as little more than middling.