The rummy cobblestones of Port Royal set a path before a drab figure with a hook for a hand. Its streets are noxious, lit by the cool glow of gaslights. Ships creak; their rotted bows breaking waves into the harbor. The drab figure is Christopher Raven. He has a story to tell.
TopWare Interactive’s upcoming title, Raven’s Cry, is a tale of revenge. In the opening cinematic, told through splattered art panels, Raven’s family is murdered by a gang of pirates. Raven, then a young boy, bears witness to their deaths. His mother clutches his fragile frame as she is run through. The boy is spared. However, as a parting gift, the gang of pirates sever one of his hands, giving way to a scallywag protagonist tied to an old zeitgeist. No eye-liner here. Just revenge.
The PAX East demo began on the docks of Port Royal in the heart of the 17th century. Strapped to Raven were two flintlock pistols, a cutlass and his trusty hook. Along with the iconic seaport, Raven’s Cry will also explore lost Aztecan civilizations and luscious jungles.
Our tour through the streets illustrated Raven’s Cry‘s devotion to historical accuracy. When met with a group of unaware enemies blocking the road, Raven fired off one of his two pistols at some explosive barrels. The enemies hastily departed via air as Raven discarded the pistol, then useless. To match the time period, each pistol only gets one round of ammo. To accommodate for this, TopWare made sure Raven could carry numerous pistols at a time.
During a combat sequence, we saw Raven utilize his hook to take down enemies. TopWare assured us that the metallic hand substitute was not only for cosmetics. Enemies were quickly outmatched by Raven’s use of sword, hook, and charms (magic abilities). The hook will also be used for platforming and will be given attachments as the game unravels.
The demo’s final scene was set in a seedy tavern. Raven approached a man with some information on the gang that murdered his family. As the conversation began, Raven’s Cry showcased its interrogation system. Players will be able to choose what actions Raven will take during such Q&A sequences. However, unlike other titles that let players make story-altering decisions, Raven’s Cry strives to remain ambiguous about consequence.
For example, once the questioning ended (not before we watched Raven stab the interviewee’s hand into the table), we had a choice: walk away from the table or set our freshly wounded friend on fire and then walk away from the table. We chose the latter, but when we did, we didn’t receive “evil” points or damage our reputation. We just walked away. We’d learn the consequences, perhaps, later.
TopWare Interactive doesn’t want players thinking in the long-term. They want them to attach themselves to the character and play the game moment to moment.
Raven’s Cry will launch in 2012 for the PC, Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3.