Raven’s Cry – E3 Preview
I hadn’t heard much about Raven’s Cry from TopWare Interactive before E3. I knew that it was a game about pirates and from the trailer, it looked pretty violent, as you would expect, but I was not prepared to be as blown away as I was. Not only have the developers taken back the pirate setting and theme from the Johnny Depp crowd, but they have blown that crowd clean out of the water (I know, I’m sorry.) The guys at TopWare promise a brutal, bloodthirsty anti-hero in Christopher Raven, and that this will be a pirate game that is set in a historically-accurate world, populated by colourful characters. We were shown a quick demo of Port Royal and Havana, where Captain Raven is looking for information from a snitch, Pete the Lark.
The game itself is a third person role playing game, telling a story of revenge. Christopher Raven watched his family killed at the age of five by a band of pirates and, after murdering his mother, the pirate captain cut off Christopher’s hand and left him for dead. Twenty years later, Captain Raven is out for revenge and begins to hunt his family’s murderers down. We didn’t get many details on the overall story of the game, but we’re told that there would be a number of decisions to be made at various stages which would then influence not only the ending, but cause ripples into other events.
One thing to point out, and a strangely-recurring theme in a few of the games this year, is the stripped down UI. There is no inventory screen – what you see on your character is what you have. Single-shot flintlock pistols are used up and dropped immediately, while swords are switched out as new and better weapons are picked up. Christopher’s missing hand was also replaced with a hook, and this also forms part of his arsenal, with the ability to be changed into a club or a slicing blade, allowing for more customisation in combat. There will also be a number of different talismans and voodoo dolls that can be worn to augment the players abilities.
The combat itself was very smooth – blocking, slicing and stabbing opponents with the cutlass, and using the hook as a secondary weapon. The finishes were brutal, allowing the player to dispatch the enemy in slow-motion with a quick sword to the face, and pistols can be used to quickly finish a fight before it even begins. Never bring a knife to a gun fight. Interestingly, there was also a cover and stealth mechanic, allowing the player to sneak into ports or to target objectives without raising an alarm. Many of the stealth take downs integrated the hook to quietly take enemies out of the game.
The TopWare guys also hinted at ship-to-ship combat, which would be very different to that seen in other games or mainstream entertainment. After doing extensive research, the team at TopWare found that actual ship-to-ship combat was a lot more difficult than it is made out to be in the movies. More often than not, the pirates would try to close with a ship quickly, clear the decks with cannon fire and board the ship. You don’t want to risk sinking the vessel with massive scale, highly-inaccurate cannon fire.
Where Raven’s Cry really stood out was in its environments; you really got the sense that towns you visited were living breathing places – things would just go on as you walk past, and have no real relation to the story or the player. The locations stand out, vibrant in both the colour palette and in terms of the non-player characters who roam the streets going about their lives. Everything is beautifully-rendered and we were told that Port Royal and Havana were just a couple of many areas that can be explored.
Raven’s Cry is due for release in Q4 2012, and it looks to be one of the best games of E3 this year. I don’t think there was one writer who came away from the presentation unimpressed by the level of detail in this early version of the game. This isn’t your pansy arse, let’s prance around with our funny dreadlocks, Pirates of the Caribbean, this is stab you in the face for looking at me the wrong way and loot your corpse for a spare flintlock, Raven’s Cry.
There will be rum.
Last five articles by Mark
- Warlock 2: The Exiled - Review
- inFamous: Second Son - Review
- WindForge - Review
- The Banner Saga - Review
- The Banner Saga - Preview