Raven's Cry is an action game set in the 18th century Caribbean with similarities to the contemporary Assassin's Creed IV: Black Flag and incorporating an amount of role-playing elements. The protagonist is the pirate Christopher Raven. In the opening scenes he clashes with the Spanish navy who attempt to hunt him down. Initially the story focuses on taking revenge on the Spaniard who betrayed him, but he soon discovers the wreckage of a ship left behind by Neville Scranton, a man he holds responsible for raping his mother, murdering his family and taking his hand when his family initially set sail for the New World.
Just like Black Flag the game mixes quests on foot, visiting different kinds of towns and fighting enemies, with naval combat on the seas. The land sections are largely linear and do not take place in an open world environment. The game is split up in different chapters with multiple main and side quests as well as hidden treasure maps, faction quests and quests for specific characters. Some conversations have multiple dialogue options with consequences that alter the story or lead to different types of quests. The protagonist is driven by anger and revenge and some of his darker decisions will influence how people and towns react to him, measured by a morality system. The element of fear can drive enemies away while the notoriety system shows feedback in the environment. Raven fights enemies with different attacks and weapons, he can block, counter and dodge, loot bodies for reales and items, and he can also gamble at different games. Some sections require stealth. Raven can throw rocks to distract opponents and he can steal using a raven after the Winged Thief skill has been unlocked. Experience earned can be converted into skill points used to unlock abilities on a large skill tree. Pirate charms are used as a form of magic, introducing invincibility, magic attacks, boosted attributes or unleashing ravens upon opponents.
Unlike the parts on foot for the naval part the entire world map is unlocked almost right away. Raven starts on a humble schooner and can eventually earn enough to command a man-o-war. Enemy ships can be raided for their goods and those can be sold at a merchant. There is a tactical element to the naval combat that resembles those parts of Assassin's Creed III. The ship needs to be steered strategically, there are three different types of ammunition to damage the sails and mast (chain-shot), hull (ordinary cannon balls) or crew (grapeshot), and for each salvo the elevation and aim need to be adjusted to counter the waves and wind direction. Later on explosive shots are acquired that combine the perks of the three ammunition types.
The ship can be upgraded in multiple ways, affecting power, speed and durability, and crew management is also an important aspect. Hiring a carpenter for instance allows for repairs while at sea, but only after visiting a shipwright to provide for rations, timber, sail cloth etc. Other crew types include a first officer, a boatsman, a doctor, a navigator, a gunner etc. With fewer crew aboard or too many killed, cannons take longer to load. It is also possible to ram other ships. Just like in Black Flag boarding and plundering a ship yields larger rewards than merely sinking it. Boarding is played out as a turn-based sequence based on the ships' status, crew and overall damage. The fights are then done using cannons or by having the crews fight directly. After conquering a ship it can be sunk or it can be let go, influencing the relations with the different factions (England, France, Spain, fellow pirates and loan sharks), the quests they offer and the prices at weapons dealers and herb sellers tied to a certain faction. Ship loot provides cargo, ammunition and crew. Ships can carry many types of cargo and the vessels are defined through board and sail HP, the amount of crewmen and morale, speed and maneuverability, cargo hold, cannon types, armor and damage for the different types of ammo, and a global level.