The Raven was released back in 2013 originally but has since released on PS4 and Xbox One. Now the remaster (that being the PS4 and Xbox One version) has landed on Nintendo Switch courtesy of THQ Nordic - a company that's becoming more and more prevalent when it comes to ports, re-releases, and remasters - and Nintendo's console is where we've been playing through the detective adventure in order to see how it holds up.
We must admit, we thought that the game was made before 2013 when we picked up the Switch version because it looks very dated right from the offset. Character models, textures, animations, and faces all look very rough around the edges still, and adds a little bit of the uncanny valley to events when characters are staring at you with a wooden, dead-behind-the-eyes countenance while you're trying to interrogate them. Luckily it's a game that doesn't take itself too seriously, so it's not too much of a detriment, but it's still pretty rough.
That said, a game isn't made by its visuals alone, and the personality packed into The Raven Remastered is what sets it apart. You play as Swiss Constable Anton Jakob Zellner, who by persistence and willful ignorance of direct orders manages to stick with detective Nicolas Legrand as the pair investigate a criminal known as The Raven. You see, The Raven was meant to have been killed by Legrand before the events of the game, but a series of crimes on a trip to Egypt make us believe they might not be dead after all.
Your travels will see you visit various locations like a train, a ship, and a museum as you try to solve the crimes that befall your party. There are several characters you meet and develop relationships with throughout, but mostly they serve as clues to your investigation rather than friends you can make along the way. They offer clues for your investigation, or perhaps roadblocks depending on their motives.
The trouble is that Zellner is no detective, and so his methods are rather... unconventional. Only by thinking outside the box can you solve the various cases, and you might need to break the rules every now and then and deploy a cheap trick to make things happen. While Legrand is your typical by-the-books guy, Zellner is a mix of classic detective work like we've seen in shows like Poirot, plus inventiveness along the lines of something like MacGyver.
All of the supporting characters in the cast are larger than life, whether that's the lavish Baroness or the carefree ship captain, and by interacting with all of these together and putting the pieces of the puzzle in place you really feel like you're in a classic detective story. The 1960s setting is just the icing on the cake, since your job is made harder due to the lack of modern technology, and there's a hint of early 20th-Century mysteries like The Mummy about it too.
Mechanically-speaking, much of the game revolves around you investigating everything available to you in a given place, from speech options to items you can pick up, before progressing the plot onwards by using this information to get to new areas. It's never particularly taxing like old point-and-click games since everything that can be interacted with in an area is clearly highlighted, but there will be moments where you'll be scratching your head wondering how a set of tongs can help you unravel a murder.
It's all played from a third-person perspective, although one of the most frustrating elements is the horrendously slow walking speed Zellner has, along with the fact he turns like a truck. When a lot of the game revolves around investigating, exploring, and backtracking, this becomes frustrating in no time at all and a simple jog feature would have helped us out a lot. That said, we never put the game down because of it, since each section you're presented with is relatively small.
The soundtrack is one of the most delightful elements of the game and suits the charming, carefree tone that Zellner embodies. Despite explosions, murders, and robberies happening around him, the delightful melodies never get too serious and its gentle pace almost makes us say that it seems like a family-friendly atmosphere... although perhaps the death and violence might put us off that conclusion.
The Raven Remastered is pretty much your standard detective plot with an old-fashioned feel reminiscent of a lot of detective fiction from yesteryear, but that doesn't stop it from being a fun romp through various countries where you meet some unique characters. It wears its inspirations on its sleeve, and while it's a little rough around the edges, it's a great yarn for anyone who loves a whodunnit or a mystery, especially one with personality and surprises along the way.
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