Let’s get something out of the way, Raven’s Cry, as it stands currently, is not a game you should spend a single penny on. This game simply isn’t finished. Your ability to play it will be severely hampered by constant game crashing bugs and broken quests.
Storm clouds were gathering over Raven’s Cry’s development as far back as the fall when its release date was pushed back several times. It was hoped that the extra time would allow for a bit of polishing on the game’s rough edges, but now it seems clear that the small development team at Poland’s Reality Pump studio had simply bitten off much more than they could chew. Raven’s Cry is so chock full of the kind of bugs and glitches that make old games so hilarious to look back on that it’s hard to believe that it could be released with a triple A price tag in 2015.
It’s a shame too, because despite its design flaws, at its core Raven’s Cry has enough enjoyable mechanics to push you through its tale of murderous pirates and revenge on the high seas. Combat happens in two places, in hand to hand sword play and in ship to ship gunfights. The learning curve of ship to ship battles makes mastering the art of steering your vessel while manning the guns especially satisfying. There are four different kinds of ammunition to use, all of which serve different strategic purposes. Ship boarding involves a system so poorly explained by the game that its best avoided altogether. Sword fighting is more tedious, but at least the game doesn’t force you to engage in it too often.
While the game was never going to win awards for its looks or its story, Reality Pump’s own Grace 2 engine aptly renders the tempestuous and moody environment of the seventeenth century Caribbean colonies. Raven’s Cry isn’t lacking in artistic direction; port towns are lush, lively, and convincingly alive. The game’s soundtrack succeeds in establishing an atmosphere of foreboding darkness or drunken revelry, as each scene demands. Character model’s won’t blow you away but are adequate to the task.
The story itself revolves around Christopher Raven, a pirate on a quest for vengeance. He’s actually an interesting protagonist, as he takes himself incredibly seriously but is often met with mockery instead of terror. With the option to handle most encounters as you wish, Captain Raven is a bad as you want him to be. The world does a good job of convincing you of its base brutality, despite the game’s writing being uneven – most of your exchanges are tedious and repetitive. On the other hand, the story takes some interesting turns as the chapters advance and Captain Raven must explore his own mind through a vision quest. Hand drawn animated vignettes serve as a glimpses into Raven’s past, and also, into the developer’s artistic ambitions. Eventually, you’ll even meet a female character who isn’t a prostitute!
Raven’s Cry itself seems to be a tale of over-sized ambitions. As evidenced by comments left for their previous game, Reality Pump appears to be making a habit of shooting for the moon, creating games with enough content and systems to warrant a full price tag without being able to actually finish or polish their bug riddled software. It’s clear that a lot of effort was put into developing a degree of depth in Raven’s Cry’s secondary systems: trading, ship maintenance, crew maintenance and factions are all present. It’s hard not think that if the developers had sacrificed some of these features they could have released a game that people could actually play.
And again, it really is a shame, because just as I was on the verge of gathering enough reales to upgrade from a schooner to a Galleon class ship — just as I had put the frustrations of figuring out which quests were broken and how to use the upgrade trees—Raven’s Cry decided to crash on me at a pivotal point in the story, throwing up a wall of glitch that I may never see the other side of. So far Reality Pump has released one patch. Slowly they’re working on a second one. At the same time, they’re working to fulfill the promises of extras that they made to their pre-orderers.
A dark spin on the pirate fantasy may be tantalizing enough to convince you to give Raven’s Cry a shot, but do yourself a favor and wait until the games has been thoroughly patched up. After that, I can honestly say that there will be some worthwhile fun to be had with this one. For now, Raven’s Cry has left a very bitter taste in many people’s mouths. One can only hope that the studio will learn their lesson and start treating their customers with respect.
This game was purchased by the reviewer and reviewed on the PC.
Raven’s Cry can be purchased here
There's a fun game buried underneath this total lack of polish, but for now, it's broken and unplayable.