Videogame review: Raven's Cry - a piratical misadventure
We should've known better, as Raven's Cry had been on our radar for quite some time now. It was originally announced in early 2012, with a scheduled release date of winter 2013. That didn't happen, and neither did the next three delayed dates during the past year. That's enough of a warning, and the fact that it's arrived now, during a season often considered a dumping ground for botched games, should've clued us in.
Still, we couldn't help ourselves because there's a reason why we're all attracted to open-world games: they let us live out existences that we ordinarily never would. The homicidal gangster. The open-plains outlaw. The intergalactic explorer. And here, the vicious, take-no-prisoners pirate - or at least, an atrocious attempt to simulate one.
We can deal with a game constantly crashing on us. We are OK with frame rates lagging like some jittery first-generation 3D release. And we are actually amused by the story's blatant political incorrectness. But Raven's Cry is simply just an awful game. It's almost unplayable.
Let's start on the high seas, where things are comparatively decent: you're given a surprisingly large map and adequate naval combat. Now if you could only ignore how samey everything looks and the tiny little issue of not having a clue as to how to engage in ship battles, this could be a decent standalone ship-to-ship battle game.
Things take a turn for the awful when players crash feet-first onto land. We realise that most pirates were, more often than not, drunk, but the camera system here is ridiculous, and rarely if ever does your character walk in a straight line. On those fluke occasions that you somehow find your way into the right position, the control response is so poor that you're sliced to pieces before swordplay even starts.
We won't even get started on the story, where seemingly only half the dialogue has been recorded and sound design constantly jumps in and out like some bizarre art-house nightmare. No amount of delays could've made this game worth a play, let alone a purchase. Raven's Cry isn't just unfinished - it's barely even begun.
If you're looking for the closest approximation to an open-world pirate adventure, try last year's Assassin's Creed: Rogue. It's far from perfect, but at least it won't make you smash your screen with a makeshift hook-hand.