Redemption Cemetery: Curse of the Raven
You stumble through the gates of a cemetery after a car accident only to have them clang shut behind you, trapping you inside. Moments later, a restless spirit- the first of many – begs for your help and you hop through a portal to the house where he and his daughter died in a fire. As openings go, Redemption Cemetery: Curse of the Raven‘s is hard to beat for sheer drama, but the game can’t maintain that level of energy and soon falls flat.
Given its premise, Curse of the Raven should be at least slightly spooky, but your surroundings never feel more than slightly disheveled and gloomy. You may be dealing with ghosts, and that raven shows up a lot, cawing his feathered head off, but you never get the sense that something all that otherworldly is going on. Oh, I’m off to search the dining room now, am I? Ok, if you insist.
Your way forward is usually blocked by some kind of obstacle that needs to be overcome or a puzzle that must be solved and while they don’t exactly work well with the given premise, they do usually make satisfying sense. Rusty gears need oil, a lighter frees a statue stuck in wax. Figuring out how to do what needs doing takes a bit of thinking, but it’s always pleasing when solutions to in-game conundrums make a fair degree of real-world sense. There are also the typical “who would actually have this contraption in their house?” type of puzzles that require discs to be realigned or combinations to be discovered, but thankfully they’re not overwhelmingly frequent or difficult.
As any regular HOG player undoubtedly knows by now, you’ll have to search your surroundings for the bits and bobs you need to best the difficulties the game throws at you. A hammer here, some glue there, a few keys, and presto: You’re on your way to the next assortment of troubles. The searches themselves are pedestrian, but solid. You’ll revisit areas several times, each time presented with a different list of junk to track down. None of it will make you jump up and down with excitement, but it won’t make you want to stop playing, either.
Run-of-the-mill as its gameplay may be, Curse of the Raven is not without its flourishes. Little details like the way the gravestones sink as you check off items on your list, or the flock of bats that spews forth from the gargoyle’s mouth to point the way when you use a hint are eye catching and provide the personality that the rest of the game sorely lacks. One odd issue is a baffling bit of lag that happens whenever you move between rooms. It was so noticeable that the first few times it happened, I thought I’d actually failed to click in the appropriate spot, or that my mouse had died. There isn’t a monumental amount of back-and-forth exploration in Curse of the Raven – at least no more than any other HOG – but there’s enough to make the navigational delay noticeable and annoying.
Curse of the Raven‘s biggest failing is that you just don’t really care about anything you’re doing. If you push forward, it’s because you feel like playing a game, not because you’re particularly interested in finding out what happens next or because the gameplay is just so darn addictive that you can’t pull yourself away. It’s not as atmospheric as it could (or perhaps should) be, and your socks will most definitely stay firmly put as you experience its well worn tropes and devices, but Curse of the Raven does at least make sure you have plenty to do. The game’s three “novellas” and a bonus adventure will keep you searching and puzzling for a good while – though you’ll likely think twice about walking through graveyards by the time you’re done.