The second chapter of The Raven trilogy is not as good as the first, but it sets the stage for what should be an exciting conclusion.
It was only about a month ago that I played through and reviewed the first chapter of The Raven - Legacy of A Master Thief. I enjoyed it, despite a few flaws that weren't too difficult to overlook. Last Tuesday, chapter two was unlocked. To play it, you have to actually start a New Game rather than Resume or Load a previous one, which threw me for a loop for a bit. Anyway, chapter two begins directly where chapter one left off -- with Constable Zellner staggering from the effects of being chloroformed by Dr. Gebhardt.
The opening moments are a time-based puzzle, requiring you to get Zellner out of harm's way, and fast. What you need to do is pretty obvious, but doing these actions in the correct order in time proved to be a bad way to start off the second chapter. This wouldn't be the only questionably-designed puzzle in this adventure, either. Moments after saving Zellner, the journey aboard the cruise ship comes to an end and the mystery picks up in Cairo just outside of the museum where the two Eyes of the Sphinx were to be shown. You'll meet the museum director and have an opportunity to explore what amounts to a very sparse museum with only four or five rooms with very little in the way of interactive objects. The museum's "explorables" (i.e., areas, objects, NPCs, etc) numbered far fewer than the Orient Express from the first chapter. I wouldn't say the playable design of the museum felt rushed, but it did feel like a missed opportunity. Now, as the story unfolds, the museum portion focuses on Zellner and Constable Oliver --so having practically every other character out of the way is convenient for this purpose. It's a story-telling method that can work, but I didn't think it was pulled-off all that well, leaving this major portion of chapter two unfulfilling.
Reasons for the disappointment stem from the aforementioned sparsity and from the puzzles themselves. There's also a bit of head-scratching logic involved too. As with the initial puzzle in the infirmary of the cruise ship, what it takes to get Constable Oliver to drop you his flashlight is frustrating and unrealistic. You have to talk to Oliver in a specific order and it felt contrived and unnatural. It seemed strange to me as well that you couldn't just go back to the guardroom on the first floor and take a flashlight for yourself. But, when you discover the path back to the guardroom, it's no longer a room you can enter; instead, Zellner can just make an observation about it. The combination lock puzzle seemed like guesswork as well, and even before that, I only found the flagpole with a bit of luck, I didn't even notice it on screen. However, despite these hiccups, the plot remained intriguing; the Raven was finally trapped somewhere in the museum and you were hot on his trail.
The reveal of The Raven does happen, and I was surprised it did. I thought there was surely going to be more chasing and finally the un-masking in chapter three. When it does happen, about halfway through chapter two, I'll admit it was surprising, but at the same time kind of underwhelming. It just didn't happen as I envisioned, nor was The Raven the type of character I thought he was going to be. Perhaps something changes in chapter three, but, not long after the reveal, the story shifts into flashback mode to help explain how certain events to this point unfolded.
You'll find yourself back on the Orient Express, only this time you're playing as another previously revealed character that I'll avoid spoiling for you. It was really cool to revisit The Orient Express and see things from a perspective that you didn't have before, but once again, I have to point out the lackluster puzzles; even more so than the first chapter, chapter two keeps things very basic. The difficulty is further reduced and this makes the game fly by (took only about three hours to complete chapter 2!) but it doesn't feel all that satisfying. I don't like pounding my head against the wall in frustration either, but when you have this many simple puzzles, it tempers the sense of adventure and accomplishment.
When the credits rolled, I was intrigued by the cliffhangers, but disappointed with the quality and length of this second chapter. It's a second act in a three part show, and for that it does well enough; but here's hoping chapter three is much longer and much more interesting.