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The Raven Remastered

Platform(s): Nintendo Switch, PC, PlayStation 3, PlayStation 4, Xbox 360, Xbox One
Genre: Adventure
Publisher: THQ Nordic
Release Date: Jan. 22, 2019

About David Silbert

I'm a recent college graduate from Boston, MA. When I'm not writing for WorthPlaying, I'm probably researching Celtics trade rumors or struggling to keep up with the growing library on my Nintendo Switch.


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Switch Review - 'The Raven Remastered'

by David Silbert on June 19, 2019 @ 12:30 a.m. PDT

Set across 1960s Europe, The Raven Remastered is a fast-paced point & click 'whodunit' adventure full of twists and turns that will have players on the edge of their seats.

Buy The Raven Remastered

Agatha Christie is one of the greatest authors of all time. Outsold only by Shakespeare and the Bible, Christie and her mystery novels have provided generations of readers with compelling characters and addictive yarns.

While Christie's mark on the entertainment world is undeniable given the literature she left behind (not to mention the shows and movies based on her works), her influence is relatively negligible when it comes to video games. One could probably classify the Nancy Drew games as having been inspired by the likes of Miss Marple and Hercule Poirot (if only because the Drew books were born from the genre Christie established). Look beyond those titles, though, and it's a pretty barren field, devoid of anything truly reflective of Christie's work.

The Raven: Legacy of a Master Thief bucked this trend. Developed by King Arts Games and initially published by The Adventure Company, The Raven debuted on Steam in 2013, providing PC players with an episodic point-and-click adventure reminiscent of Christie's Poirot capers. While Sony gamers got a taste of the sleuthing action in 2014 when The Raven was ported to PlayStation 3, owners of Microsoft and Nintendo hardware were unfortunately left in the dark.

That is, until last year, when The Raven received a new lease on life in the form of The Raven Remastered. Published by the folks at THQ Nordic, The Raven Remastered bundles the three original chapters of The Raven into one complete package.

While The Raven Remastered first released in 2018 for PlayStation 4 and Xbox One, the title found another home in 2019, this time on the Nintendo Switch. The same core experience as what was found in the PS4 and Xbox One iterations, The Raven Remastered on Switch also boasts the system's patented handheld functionality, offering a whole new way to experience the Christie-esque adventure.

With its charming premise and likeable characters, The Raven Remastered offers a fun romp for fans of mystery and classic Christie fiction. Unfortunately, the title is held back by a range of issues, including cumbersome controls, poor pacing, and irritating audio and visual blemishes. Those willing to stick with The Raven in spite of its oddities will find a mystery worth uncovering, but the game is an admittedly harder sell for all but the most dedicated of point-and-click fans.

The Raven Remastered opens on a familiar scene: A pair of guards is patrolling the British Museum in London when the institution's prized possession — a ruby called The Eye of the Sphinx — is snatched by a masked figure. A few days pass, and the game changes locales to a train in the Swiss Alps, where a second version of the Eye of the Sphinx — this time an emerald — is being transported to Cairo for a special exhibition.

Players assume the role of Anton Jakob Zellner, a constable with the Swiss police tasked with ensuring the Eye of the Sphinx's safekeeping across the Swiss border. As Zellner, players investigate the train and its passengers, inquiring about the whereabouts of the stolen jewel and whether a world-famous thief, the "Raven," might be behind the crime.

Whereas Christie's novels were iconic for their singular settings, The Raven Remastered is a globe-trotting affair, spanning the European countryside, the open waters of the Mediterranean Sea, and the nooks and crannies of Egypt. Despite the variety on display, each locale feels distinctly like a Christie novel. Some, like the train at the beginning, feel like pages taken from Christie's books (in this case, "Murder on the Orient Express"), while others, like a segment aboard a cruise ship, serve as unique interpretations of classic Christie settings. In either case, The Raven nails the atmosphere of exploring a world molded by the world's greatest mystery author.

This authenticity carries over to The Raven's characters. Of its diverse cast of eccentric characters, the foreign, charming Zellner and elderly author Lady Westmacott are the two most obvious examples, paying clear homage to Poirot and Christie herself, respectively. But The Raven also features a myriad of other characters — a baroness, a doctor, and a ship captain, to name a few — all of which fit the mold of classic Christie murder suspects.

To many, this may feel uninspired. After all, anyone who has read a Poirot novel will be familiar with the likes of Zellner (a quiet, yet inquisitive gentleman) and his supporting cast. Ironically, in its close reimagining of Christie's works, The Raven Remastered borders on feeling like a cheap imitation rather than its own distinct property. You may even ask: Why not just reread one of Christie's novels?

Thankfully, The Raven offers enough unique traits to stand out from its spiritual source material. Zellner, for all his similarities to Poirot — both physically and in terms of personality — has a decidedly goofier, more playful side to him than meets the eye. His interactions with certain characters, like cheering up a boy who has been raised without a father or shooting a toy slingshot at a guard to distract him, make for touching moments that elevate him from what could have been a cookie-cutter persona.

The same goes for The Raven's plot, which has a surprising amount of depth. Characters have various reasons behind their travel to Cairo, from Baroness von Trebitz, who has sponsored the excursion, to Professor Edgar Lucien, who is scheduled to give a lecture about the Eyes of the Sphinx at the exhibition. There's also the particularly interesting Nicolas Legrand, a decorated French police inspector who is credited with catching and killing the Raven years ago. Following the theft of the ruby Eye of the Sphinx, Legrand begins to second-guess the fact that he caught the real Raven; however, Zellner insists that the culprit behind the recent heist is a copycat, leading to a fascinating source of tension between the two policemen.

These various motivations, coupled with the idea that anyone and everyone is a potential suspect, makes for some interesting twists and turns over the course of The Raven's 10-hour adventure. The story has some unfortunate stumbles, however. The voice acting is enjoyable but rather hokey, with blown accents and awkwardly delivered lines. The game also suffers from a few dangling plot threads; a plot hole at the beginning of the second chapter left me particularly dumbfounded. In spite of these issues, The Raven's storytelling was one of its stronger assets.

Where The Raven truly drops the ball, unfortunately, is with its gameplay. A traditional point-and-click, The Raven tasks players with searching the environment for various clues and tools to progress the story. While I like a good point-and-click as much as the next person (tricky puzzles and leisurely pace included) The Raven Remastered takes things to the extreme. Controls are cumbersome, with Zellner controlling more like a tank than a person; I frequently smashed the analog stick to get the detective to move in the proper direction. The constable also walks at a snail's pace, in turn causing the experience to inch along at a frustratingly slow clip. Throw in a fair amount of head-scratching puzzles (there's a hint system that rarely offers any meaningful help), and I struggled to appreciate the gameplay segments of The Raven as much as I did its story.

My frustrations carry over to the hit-or-miss presentation. The visuals, though admittedly carryover from a much older title, will hardly wow anybody in 2019, with stiff character models and choppy animations. Everything looks pleasant and performs reasonably well on the Switch's handheld screen, but those expecting particularly striking art or animations will be left hanging.

The soundtrack fares a bit better, with some expressive orchestral pieces that set the mood and give a sense of place to the Christie-esque story. It's a shame that the track list is relatively short, with pieces that loop awkwardly and in painfully short intervals. Like much else in The Raven Remastered, the music is serviceable but feels like a missed opportunity to leave a stronger impression.

That's probably a good way to sum up The Raven Remastered: serviceable but underwhelming. The title shows plenty of promise with its characters and story, but the sluggish gameplay, questionable acting, and mediocre audiovisual presentation drag it down. Mystery fans and avid Christie book readers will find something to like with The Raven's narrative, but the rougher edges make it a tough experience to recommend to all but the most dedicated and patient of players.

Score: 6.9/10

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