[29 September 2013]
The Raven: Chapter 2 - Ancestry of Lies begins right where the first chapter left off, throwing you into the middle of a life threatening puzzle. This may not have been the best idea, since the situation requires you to “die” every time that you fail, and you’ll probably fail a lot as you try to figure out the proper pattern of actions. But on the plus side, this is the only time over the course of the two chapters that the story and gameplay conflict with each other in any significant way. Once you figure out how to survive, the rest of the chapter takes off at a much faster pace than its predecessor.
That’s not to say Chapter 2 is “fast paced” but it is distinctly faster, which is a good thing because the story requires it: The stakes have been raised now, so there’s no going back to the languid pace of Chapter 1. There’s also no longer a need to introduce and develop the whole cast of characters. Much of Chapter 1 was spent talking, listening, and considering what you had just heard, and whether or not those words inadvertently confirmed or cleared someone of guilt. There’s not as much talking, listening, and considering in Chapter 2, instead there are plot developments and twists.
Thankfully, Ancestry of Lies still give us some time in the beginning to chat with folk and see how they are doing following the events of Chapter 1. Specifically, we learn more about the aged mystery author Lady Westmacott and her caretaker. Lady Westmacott is easily one of the best characters in the game, so the one significant character moment with her makes up for the smaller cast overall. There are also moments when we’re given a choice that can change how minor events play out. These choices have no impact on the plot (at lest for this chapter), but they still feel important because these minor events are important to the characters and we’ve grown to like these characters. I want to help them with their troubles even if their troubles have nothing to do with the Raven.
As a result of the smaller cast and faster pace, this chapter is noticeably shorter than the first one. This is actually refreshing because it never feels like the game pads itself out to meet an arbitrary length requirement. The story builds to a surprising twist then jumps back in time to let us play a parallel story, and we see how inconsequential details were actually clues to a larger story.
You’ll meet the Raven by the end of this chapter, which speaks to the confidence the developer has in this story. They’re not dragging out the central mystery over the course of all three chapters, instead they’re solving it now so Chapter 3 can focus on the resolution. Considering how this chapter ends, I don’t know how Chapter 3 will play out, but that’s part of the fun of a good mystery.