When I first heard that the second and third chapters of The Raven – Legacy of a Master Thief would allow me to play as additional, important story characters aside from the lovable but not quite action-hero calibur Anton Jakob Zellner, I was pretty excited. “Maybe I’ll get to play as the brilliant Inspector Legrand,” I thought aloud. “Or even The Raven himself!” Two chapters later, with the finale completed and all three segments now gestating in my mind’s critical analysis chamber, I’m surprised to find that all said and done, I actually wish I had spent the whole thing with our man Zellner after all. I guess hindsight is twenty-twenty.
The third chapter in the Raven trilogy, A Murder of Ravens, takes noticeable strides to right the wrongs of previous entries, and the efforts of KING Art definitely have not gone unnoticed. The first two entries had a tendency to operate in extremes. Chapter 1’s puzzles were haphazardly thought out and sometimes infuriatingly difficult, while Chapter 2’s were surprisingly easy. The first chapter took a while to pick up steam and could have used more explaining at times, while Chapter 2 was laden with dense and sometimes dull exposition. And, perhaps most notably, both chapters varied in terms of who you can play as, and for how long. Chapter 3 takes all of these things into consideration, aims to rectify them, and succeeds. Sometimes.
I’ll avoid spoilers, but I don’t think it’s too risky to state simply that Chapter 3 lets you play as an important antagonist. According to my first paragraph, this is just what I’d want, and initially this realization had me in quite the excited state. The problem lies not in who you play as, but where and how you play as them. Now, what I’m about to point out isn’t necessarily unreasonable, and I hardly blame KING Art for it either. It’s just a bit disappointing. Some of the areas and levels in Chapter 3 are… recycled. You know them, you traverse them as you did before to an extent, and, well – they’re just not new. As mentioned, it makes sense the developers would reuse things a bit at this stage in the trilogy, and story-wise it’s logical too – you’re just playing from another character’s perspective, so of course some of the locales visited are going to be identical. Nonetheless, despite new puzzles and being able to access areas Zellner could not, some of these environments are in fact identical. So if that’s something that irks you, you’ve been warned.
Of course, many Raven players are in it for story and story alone, especially if they’ve stuck around for this long. So how is the grand finale? Well, much to my delight, it was immensely satisfying. You may recall me saying after both the first and second chapters that I felt a bit disappointed, but ardently optimistic for what would come next. With Chapter 3, I was afraid that I’d reach the end of the game, feel disappointed, and then have nothing to look forward to that could potentially make narrative amends. I’m very happy about the fact that no such despair or emptiness occurred upon the final chapter’s completion – the ending was handled expertly, each character was dealt a fitting and appropriate fate, and KING Art even toyed with the good-guy bad-guy roles just enough to mess with perception and plant a small but substantial thought-stimulus in the mind of the player. Taken in a vacuum it’s still no BioShock Infinite or Virtue’s Last Reward, but the tale ends on a satisfying note and one-ups its preceding chapters handily.
Only gameplay remains, and though KING Art tries just as hard to make this third installment the definitive one in the interaction department, the results unfortunately don’t translate to much more than an ‘A’ for effort. As mentioned, puzzles have finally been balanced a bit better – but not in the way I’d hoped or expected. Yes, overall the puzzles in Chapter 3 aren’t just really hard or just really easy anymore – but they’re not always a happy medium either. They’re both. Instead of honing what the previous entries presented, KING Art simply included both types of puzzles I complained about over the course of the previous two chapters. In Chapter 3 I found myself both infuriated at some moments and cruising right along at others, and the effect of the inconsistency results in the game sending mixed and unclear signals. At least in Chapter 1 I could brace myself and keep my eyes peeled for obscure fire extinguishers (see my review), and in Chapter 2 I could grab something to distract me as I puzzled. I’m exaggerating a bit, but I think it gets the point across.
You’re probably thinking that outside of puzzling quips this is a pretty positive write-up so far, and if so you’d be absolutely correct. Despite not reaching its gameplay-balancing goals, Chapter 3 of the The Raven – Legacy of a Master Thief has such a top-notch conclusion — and generally solid narrative pacing for that matter — that I can say without hesitation that it’s the best chapter of the trilogy. I’m afraid there is one other thing I’d be remiss not to mention, though – the glitches. Oh, the sweet, sweet glitches. Though I experienced a few goofy instances of characters walking in place or getting stuck on walls in past entries, it was never anything a quick restart couldn’t fix, at which point the issue would usually never show itself again.
In A Murder of Ravens, that is simply not the case. You’ll find wall sticking, walking in place, inaccessible doorways – all the classics. The best one is when your character abruptly launches into the air, appearing to Super DeDeDe Jump onto a museum roof before coming crashing down. I say this in jest, mainly because I usually find glitches funny rather than frustrating, and obviously a glitch is more of a spastic and not-quite-right viewing experience than anything else. I did my best to have a good laugh, but in terms of deeming A Murder of Ravens a great game, such issues certainly don’t do it any favors.
So that’s the end of The Raven – Legacy of a Master Thief. I’d be lying if I said I didn’t enjoy myself, despite my sometimes-harsh assessments. Chapter 3, despite many issues, delivers where it counts for a game like this – the story. If you’ve been playing thus far, it’d be foolish not to treat yourself to this cleverly-done conclusion, and if you get to see some odd roof-jumping along the way, or slam your head against a few walls, I’d argue that these things are all part of the fun. Or at least, that’s easy for me to say now that it’s over and done with.
This review is based on the PC version of the game, which was provided to us.
The third chapter of The Raven finally delivers on its narrative promise, and for that alone you should check it out if you've been playing up to this point. If you had your fingers firmly crossed for perfected puzzling or glitch-free traversal, you may again be disappointed, but that's no reason to deprive yourself of the series' well-done ending.