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iPhone  header logo

The Secret of Raven Rock

For: iPhone   Also on: iPad

Takes several attempts to unlock

Product: The Secret of Raven Rock | Developer: Raven Rock Games | Publisher: Raven Rock Games | Format: iPhone | Genre: Adventure, Puzzle | Players: 1 | Version: Europe | App version: 1.0
The Secret of Raven Rock iPhone, thumbnail 1
I find myself in an empty Medieval town. My family have disappeared, along with the rest of the locals. Not to worry though, someone's left a string of cryptic sliding-tile puzzles for me to solve.

The Secret of Raven Rock harkens back to '90s PC point-and-click adventures like Myst. You see the world around you in first-person, and move by tapping areas you want to travel to, and objects you want to inspect more closely.

Each time you move, the camera whooshes you over to the next point in a speedy animated FMV.

Tapping the bottom of the screen sends you back to the last area you were in, but it feels very odd not being able to turn around - instead you feel as if you're walking backwards when backtracking.

New tricks

Raven Rock knows its roots well, and has made some effort to improve on the formula, making clever use of multi-touch, gyroscopic controls, and the camera on your iOS device.

The two musical tracks within the game feel particularly Elder Scrolls-esque, never really annoying nor earworming their way into your brain. Atmospheric sound effects compliment the tunes, giving a more realistic tone to the world.

As you stumble across clues you take notes that can be checked mid-puzzle, and each new area you uncover allows for fast-travelling around from the in-game map.

Old dog

Of course, being a puzzle adventure game Raven Rock has its share of illogical combinations that get from one area to the. These, however, are not where the game's faults lie.

While some puzzles are a pleasure to understand and solve, others are hampered by poor implementation. One piano puzzle took me more than 10 attempts to complete despite knowing the solution thanks to playing on the smaller-screened iPhone.

I don't see

An additional note: this is not a colourblind-friendly game. At one point I had to input the colours below, in order, on a statue with five buttons. 

I can only see three colours in this picture.

After spending 20 minutes trying to input different combinations I gave up. Two puzzles earlier in the game were also guilty of this crime, but I managed to brute force my way through with trial and error.

In the end I had to find a housemate, tell him what I needed to do, and he proceeded to complete the puzzle in under a minute without making any mistakes. This is unacceptable.

Unforgivable, that's what you are

On occasion the in-game hint system pointed me to my journal for entries I had not yet acquired, driving me somewhat mad as I repeatedly tried to conjure up shapes and answers that I just hadn't encountered at all.

There's nothing wrong with puzzles that perplex, but ones that require multiple attempts when the concept and execution is thoroughly understood by the player are infuriating, not challenging.

The Secret of Raven Rock is best suited for people who grew up loving this style of point-and-click adventure, and the mighty patient who are looking for several hours of puzzles to juggle. If you're after anything else, look elsewhere first.
The Secret of Raven Rock
Reviewer photo
Danny Russell | 9 October 2014
The Secret of Raven Rock is by no means unpolished, but gives the impression of skimping on the quality control process, with some riddles infuriating for all the wrong reasons
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