Raven's Cry aims for realism, maturity in the pirate genre

Raven's Cry brings pirates back to their historical roots.

When most people think "pirates," no doubt men wearing eyeliner and prancing around on ships come to mind. TopWare Interactive and Octane Games' Raven's Cry seeks to blow this gentle stereotype out of the water with a game that presents a more grounded and realistic take on pirates, something closer to its historical roots.

Raven's Cry tells the story of Christopher Raven, a hook-handed pirate seeking revenge for the murder of his family when he was a child. Christopher's story deviates from the more playful ones popular culture has woven, and players are presented with a gruesome, bloody tale of acute historical relevance and accuracy. The game world is an ugly one, every nook and cranny stuffed with terrible people doing terrible things to each other.

Fighting mechanics are minimalistic in execution but still offer a variety of weapon choices. Christopher specializes in close-range melee combat with his sword and hook, but can also equip bombs and guns for ranged fighting and sniping. Guns are detail-accurate to older models like the blunderbuss and flintlock and can be used only once, much like grenades in an FPS. Players can also equip and cast voodoo charms - the benign solution to TopWare's desire to keep fantastical elements out of play and yet offer a mechanic akin to casting.

The 17th-century pirate scene wasn't known for its high morality or sparkling virtue, and in keeping with historical fact the characters in Raven's Cry are brutal, merciless, and lewd. Choice mechanics don't apply to straightforward "good" or "bad" scales, and there are no achievements for taking a certain moral path. In fact, Christopher's choices often vary between bad and worse; the system's only goal is to give players influence and a sense of ownership over Christopher's journey. Players can make Christopher react to certain situations in any way they wish, with some choices impacting events and relationships with certain NPCs later in the game.

Raven's Cry is a refreshing departure from pop culture's take on pirates. This isn't Johnny Depp on a beach — this is more visceral and real, an eye-opening hat-tip to the real pirates that once sailed the ocean blue.

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