Category Archives: Reviews

Graveyard Keeper

In Graveyard Keeper, you find yourself waking up in a dank, gloomy land where you have found yourself in a career path that you always dreamed of – medieval graveyard keeper!  I know that based on the title of this game, this is not what you were expecting, but if there is one thing I can almost assuredly guarantee, it’s that you will not be disappointed in this role.  You’ll find a pleasant hybrid of management/simulation and exploration while you go through your grim adventure.



The Good

Graveyard Keeper is a fun, fresh take on the management genre by approaching it with a storyline that is much darker than almost all of its predecessors, but it tapers this with a touch of comedy that creates a great balance.  The story is largely uncovered and driven by tasks you complete, and conversing with characters you come across will be a large force in uncovering a several branches of the plot.  Many characters only appear on one day of the week (denoted by symbols that can be located in the top left of the screen) and many of these characters will lead to more areas of your map unlocking.  While this is not something new to the management genre, the setting, characters, and comedy make Graveyard Keeper feel thoroughly refreshing.  The retro-pixelated style fits the game very well, and the controls are largely intuitive and make it easy to pick up the basics of the game very quickly.  While the basics are easy to master, Graveyard Keeper offers many layers to make the game an getaway that you can easily get lost in.



The Bad

I have two criticisms of Graveyard Keeper – the first is the font, the second is the lack of explanation behind some systems in the game.  This isn’t the first time I’ve had a complaint about font in a retro-pixelated style game (which is starting to make me think that maybe I’m going blind), but Graveyard Keeper seems to have made the same mistake that we’ve seen in other games in the same stylistic vein.  It wouldn’t be so bad if it wasn’t for the fact that there is a fair amount of reading that is important to the actual gameplay.  It doesn’t make the game unplayable, but I did find myself walking up to my TV occasionally to make sure that I was reading something correctly.  My second complaint, the lack of explanation, is another one that cannot be overcome by enough playing around and exploration.  This frustration became most apparent when figuring out things like the upgrade system or actual tasks involved in some quests, and while I was able to figure it out eventually, it took me a bit to figure out what the heck was going on.


The Achievements

The achievements in Graveyard Keeper are a mix of quest completion achievements, task completion (like burying so many bodies) and a few collectible type achievements.  Overall, it is a very well rounded list – initially, I was concerned because it seemed like some of the achievements may be very lengthy grinds, but it appears that many of these achievements are doable within playing the game for quest completions (with possibly some endgame grinding to round out a few).  The achievement list will also make you explore virtually all of the different aspects of the game, from performing autopsies and tending to the actual graveyard all the way to fishing and cooking.



The Verdict

Graveyard Keeper has achieved a very well-rounded playstyle among both the actual gameplay to working in a fun achievement list that will make you really delve into all the aspects of the game.  Minus a few small hindrances in the actual presentation of the game, Graveyard Keeper hits almost every nail on the head in what a management sim should aim for.  If you’re looking for an easy-going game that you can bury a lot of time in, Graveyard Keeper is for you!


Grim Legends 3: The Dark City

Step into the shoes of Sylvia in her quest to contain the Koshmaar, a terrible monster on the loose that can be contained through puzzle-solving related exploration.  With the help from Solomon, Sylvia’s mentor, you will take on the task of saving the city by recovering the Incarceri Stone and stopping the Koshmaar from complete destruction.




The Good

In a weird way, one of the best things about Grim Legends 3 is that it is not excessively long – rather, it feels like they hit just the right length for this game.  Lately, I’ve felt like a few of the puzzle/story games I’ve played have dragged on with a lot of back and forth between areas solely to make the game feel longer.  Grim Legends 3: The Dark City found a good balance of puzzles mixed in with story and didn’t have an excess of pointless backtracking.  The game had a comfortable flow that has been lacking in some Artifex Mundi games I’ve played recently, which is a nice feeling to return to.




The Bad

The plot feels like every other Grim Legends game (and every other Artifex Mundi game, for that matter).  Additionally, a lot of the hidden-object puzzles were not the type with a list, but instead were the type where you were given a pictures of similar items that you needed to find in a pile of junk.  While these are hidden-object puzzles, they feel a bit like lazy cop-outs where stuff is just jammed together to find, rather than a fun challenge searching for items in a scene.



The Achievements

A lot of the achievements in Grim Legends 3 are the same as we’ve seen in other Artifex Mundi games – a handful of story related achievements, completing the puzzles without any hints, and a few achievements for finding all the collectibles.  Other than that, The Dark City throws in a few achievements for completing specific puzzles in less than three minutes (the stain glass puzzles), and two achievements related to rune puzzles.  The achievements tied to the newer style puzzles are a nice addition to the standard list – this time around, the only achievement I wasn’t a huge fan of was for completing a hidden-object puzzle in twenty seconds or less (hint – pausing the game only slightly dims the screen but allows you to keep hunting the screen for whatever you need).




The Verdict

As far as Grim Legends 3: The Dark City, it fills most of what we have come to expect from Artifex Mundi.  Fun puzzles, a handful of hidden-object puzzles, and beautiful artistry – they have found their formula and they are sticking to it.  I really did enjoy Grim Legends 3, but I have reached a point where many of the Artifex Mundi games feel like the same plot in slightly different landscapes.  For me, Grim Legends 3 became play for the puzzles, not for the plot. You’ll get a fun afternoon of gaming in, but it will be exactly what you were expecting – nothing more, nothing less.



Step into the wings of Otus, a mute owl who – despite being able to fly – is not held in high regards in his hometown, Vellie.  With low expectations for what the outcome of his life will be, he is sent on patrol with his friend Geddy, a local defense engineer.  While on patrol, Otus and Geddy pursue a mysterious creature into a cave, only to discover the town is under attack by pirates when they emerge.  Of course, this is poor Otus’ fault, and his journey to save the world he knows from the pirates begins!



The Good

Owlboy is simply a very well-crafted game in almost every aspect.  While the graphics are simple, they are so well designed that their beauty is highlighted by their simplicity.  The story moves along very well, and the dialogue in Owlboy is very entertaining.  Combined with a unique and enjoyable story, it is hard to find something that was not a great success in this game.



The Bad

There really is not much negative to say about Owlboy.  The only real complaint I had was that during combat sequences that needed accuracy and speed, I found the controls to be clunky.  This led to a bit of frustration occasionally, but it really became a matter of learning what would be best versus certain sets of enemies or bosses.  I think the only reason this really stood out is because so much of the game is intuitive and flows almost seamlessly, that anything that held the game up really stuck out.



The Achievements

Owlboy has 24 achievements, of which two are currently reported as unobtainable.  Ten achievements are story related, and the rest are a variety of collectibles and completing specific tasks.  A few of these tasks are rather amusing (such as dropping Geddy into the clouds or hitting him 1000 times), and others are more puzzle related, like solving a drum puzzle.  Overall, it is a decent achievement list that encourages exploration beyond the main story.




The Verdict

Minus the rare frustrations experienced in some combat sequences, Owlboy is a near perfect game that truly stands out among an array of indie games hitting the market lately.  An endearing story, beautiful 2D graphics, and lovable characters has put Owlboy in a tier above its competition – pick it up, set aside some time to really sit down and play it, and get ready to experience what may be the best indie game of 2018 for Xbox.


Buy Owlboy on the Microsoft Store

Buy Owlboy on Steam

Enigmatis 3: The Shadow of Karkhala

In your latest pursuit of The Preacher, you find yourself stranded after a rocky flight that lands you in the snowy mountains.  You’ll erect and complete an evidence board during your latest tenure as detective, but will it be enough to stop The Preacher’s murderous reign once again?



The Good

The story in Enigmatis 3 is one of the better ones of the Artifex Mundi games, and as usual, the artwork of the game is wonderful.  Other than that, Enigmatis 3 has not really done anything to set itself apart.  There are a decent number of hidden-object puzzles (although, this feels like it was at the expense of other types of puzzles throughout the game).



The Bad

There seemed to be a lot less puzzles overall in this installment of the Enigmatis series.  There felt like a lot of back and forth, and a lot more of simply talking to people to progress the stories.  Additionally, this is the second Artifiex Mundi game I’ve played recently that appeared to really go overboard on the collectibles.  I love collectibles that add-on to a game and provide background to the story.  Collectibles for the sake of collectibles is silly.



The Achievements

Enigmatis 3 follows the same achievement list we expect from Artifex Mundi – story related achievements, collectible related achievements, and complete puzzles under certain parameters (for example, complete a hidden-object puzzle in under one minute).  I understand that due to the nature of the type of game, there is a relatively limited structure of achievements available, but they went really heavy on the collectible based achievements once again – 9/35 achievements are for finding some combination of the three different collectibles throughout the game.  In my playthrough (with no guide) I unlocked 32/35 achievements in about 3 hours of gameplay for 910 gamerscore.



The Verdict

Artifex Mundi has a formula that they have found success with, and they certainly stick to it.  Enigmatis 3 follows through on what we have come to expect from a puzzle-game out of the Artifex Mundi studio – great artwork, fun puzzles, collectibles, and an okay achievement list.  As usual, I enjoyed an afternoon working through a fun hidden-object puzzle game, but a few more puzzles and a few less collectibles would have gone a long way this time around.


The Station

Welcome to The Station, where you take on the role of a recon specialist sent out to find out what happened on-board a space station that was studying an alien life-form.  You’ll take on the task of exploring the various areas of the station and reliving some of what the three-person crew went through by reading their correspondents, as well as listening to many of their voice recordings.  Will you be able to save anyone on board, or is it too late for the crew of The Station?



The Good

In addition to beautiful graphics and an interesting area to explore, The Station has some of the best flow that I’ve experienced in a walking-sim in a long time.  Often times, I feel like the story doesn’t move well, or pieces of the plot are lost in trying to figure out where to go next.  The Station succeeded in leaving plenty of room for exploration while guiding the plot along gently enough without feeling forced.




The Bad

The Station is very short.  The story itself (which I played with no guide) took me about 30-45 minutes.  It felt like there were plenty of opportunities to expand on the story that were left unexplored.  I understand having some mystery to a story, but in a game this short, I feel like expanding into some more areas would have been wise.



The Achievements

Most of the achievements are either story-related or collectibles, with a few others for performing tasks like opening each of the crew’s lockers, and completing all puzzles.  Overall, it is a very short completion – I finished it in right around an hour, and that includes having to go back and clean up three achievements I missed on my initial story playthrough.  It is a very ordinary achievement list with nothing special that jumps out, but also provides a very easy completion.



The Verdict

If The Station wasn’t so short, my overall rating of it would be much higher.  While I love pieces of the story that was given to us, it left me wanting so many answers and feeling somewhat unfulfilled.  Otherwise, The Station provides an intriguing skeleton and a beautiful space-scape to explore for a little while.


2064: Read Only Memories

2064: Read Only Memories places you in the future Neo-San Francisco as a journalist.  One morning, an adorable robot named Turing appears in your apartment with the shocking news that your friend Hayden has been kidnapped.  Turing, a robot designed to be sapient and continually adapt to develop an independent personality, believes they are the reason Hayden has been kidnapped.  What follows next is an adventure for the both you and Turing to search for answers to a mystery that seems to go deeper each time you find an answer.



The Good

2064: Read Only Memories has a great plot and some of the best plot development that I’ve come across in a long time.  It also has a great cast of characters and dialogue to accompany the retro-style graphics.  There are very few games I have played recently where I became attached to any character, but Turing really drew me in and was incredibly endearing in their development throughout the game.  The story worked in enough twists that it kept me curious as to what would happen next, as well as was genuinely thought-provoking at some points as to how society would handle potential technological advances in the future.



The Bad

There was one major complaint I had with 2064, and that was how slowly the text moved.  I would have liked an option to move through the text more quickly, as there were some points that it really seemed to slow down the game.  There were a few sections that I had to replay due to dying, and waiting for the conversations to progress repeatedly started to make this feel very cumbersome.



The Achievements

The achievement list for 2064: Read Only Memories is a great mixture of story-related achievements, a variety of collectibles (in a non-traditional sense), and a ton of achievements for completing certain tasks throughout the game.  While this is one of the best achievement lists I have seen in a while, it will be very time consuming to complete.  There are four achievements for getting different endings – utilizing saves, I believe two can be earned in each playthrough.  One achievement has the potential to be the most aggravating – completing the game in one sitting without loading a save or using the option to continue.  There is one section near the end of the game where surviving is largely luck based, and dying in that section would nullify this achievement.



The Verdict

2064: Read Only Memories is one of the best indie games I have played in a while.  Utilizing a plot that genuinely drew me in with a combination of witty dialogue and endearing characters, 2064 hit a lot of the marks that I look for in a game.  I highly recommend playing through the first time without specifically hunting for achievements, and then going back to clean up in a future playthrough.  This is defintely a game I recommend getting and taking the time to play.


Nightmares From The Deep 3: Davy Jones

In Nightmares From The Deep 3: Davy Jones puts you in the shoes of Sara, a museum curator, who ends up on Davy Jones’ island in the efforts to rescue her daughter from a fatal deal with Davy Jones himself.  The guardians on the island take you on a journey into Davy Jones’ memories, but will they help you save Cory?


The Good

Nightmares From The Deep 3 lives up to its expectations with a great array of puzzles, and plenty of hidden-object puzzles.  I’ve felt like this is an area that Artifex Mundi has missed out on in a few of their recent games.  As always, the scenery and characters are beautifully done, but the real magic of this game is in the puzzles.



The Bad

There were two issues I had with Nightmares From The Deep 3.  First, the story just really seemed to drag.  I think that it felt like there was a lot of going back and forth between a few locations, and to me, adding in extra go-betweens just to make a game longer doesn’t make the game better.  This was the first Artifex Mundi game that I have played where I felt like the story really killed it for me.  Besides the story, the only issue I had was with the sheer volume of collectibles, and we go over that in the next section.


The Achievements

Nightmares From The Deep 3: Davy Jones contains 30 achievements, many of which fit the formula of other Artifex Mundi hidden-object puzzle games.  There are several story related achievements, as well as achievements for completing certain tasks related to puzzles in the game, such as find 5 objects within 5 seconds, complete all puzzles without skipping.  Other than those achievements, Nightmares From The Deep 3 went really heavy on the collectible related achievements.  This made the achievement hunting rather tedious, as I spent a lot of time trying to find every single collectible on every single screen.


The Verdict

While fun as most Artifex Mundi games are, Nightmares From The Deep 3 feels almost identical to a lot of other games released by them.  Something about this game also made me feel like it was dragging a lot more than other Artifex Mundi games that I’ve played and enjoyed.  I will never pass on one of their games, but Nightmares From The Deep 3 left me looking for something more.


Albert and Otto

Albert & Otto is a puzzle-platformer that puts in the shoes of Albert, a young boy whose sister has been abducted.  Along with Otto, a seemingly-magical stuffed bunny, you must traverse the world while you solve puzzles and battle some somewhat creepy beasts.  Careful timing and some quick thinking are going to be necessary if you want to help Albert reach the end his first chapter!


The Good

The story in Albert & Otto is intriguing, and its art style is beautifully done.  More than once, I found myself thinking that it looked and felt similarly to LIMBO, but not in a bad way.  The collectibles (mailboxes and shards) both added to the story in different ways, which is an element that is missed in many games.  By far, the storytelling elements of Albert & Otto are its greatest success.



The Bad

Albert & Otto is riddled with small issues that really seem to pile up.  First, the game itself is very short, and while the achievements give it some replay value, you’re not going to be pouring hours into this game no matter what.  Besides the length of the game, there are a lot of glitches that seem to pile up, especially when combined with the precision that is needed in many sections (which, in and of itself, becomes aggravating).  The biggest glitch I ran into involved my character suddenly being incapable of aiming to the right side of the screen, as well as not being able to move Albert at all.  This resulted in having to restart a level that I was already growing increasingly frustrated with.



The Achievements

Of the 12 achievements in Albert & Otto, four of them are story related, and two are for collectibles (all of which are relatively easy to locate throughout the game).  The rest of the achievements may be earned through completing various tasks, such as shooting a crow while you are in the air, or completing bosses/certain sections without dying.  It is important to note that there is an achievement for completing the entire game in five or less deaths, but as of right now, the achievement unlocks upon completion of the story regardless of how many deaths you have.



The Verdict

When I first started to play Albert & Otto, I really thought it was going to be a great platformer, but by the end, I don’t know if I was more frustrated with the length of the game, the glitches, or the seemingly random system of precision-nitpickiness.  With some practice, this can be an easy completion (and without practice, you can still net about 500 gamerscore), but I would carefully weigh how much you are willing to pay for Albert & Otto.


Buy on Xbox

Lost Grimoires 2: Shard of Mystery

In the latest hidden-object puzzle developed by Artifex Mundi, Lost Grimoires 2: Shard of Mystery, you search for Fern (who has gone missing shortly before his coronation) through completing a variety of puzzles and mixing so many potions, you won’t know what to do with them – just kidding, you’ll know exactly what to do with them!  Step into the shoes of Violet and see if you can solve the latest mystery in Lost Grimoires 2!


The Good

Lost Grimoires 2 provides a variety of new puzzles mixed in with some of the classics seen in other Artifex Mundi games.  In addition to a handful of hidden-object puzzles, there is also a Bejeweled-style puzzle mixed in through many segments of the game that result in potions being mixed, and I thought this was a really fun addition that was different from other puzzles we’ve become used to seeing.


One of the other things I really enjoyed about Lost Grimoires 2 was it was the perfect level of challenging for this type of game.  Any time I go through an Artifex Mundi game, I want to complete it on my own – collectibles and all – with no guide.  While there were some sections I got stuck on for a bit, or a few collectibles I had to look a little bit harder for, it was doable and fun to complete.  I always look to these games to be relaxing playthroughs, and I feel that was accomplished here.


The Bad

I would really love to see a fresh plot from Artifex Mundi.  I have reached a point of not paying much attention to the plot in many of their games because I feel like the story is almost always the same.  Lost Grimoires 2 is a visually beautiful game, I just wish there was more substance to the story.  Also, more hidden-object puzzles.  Always more hidden-object puzzles!



The Achievements

All the achievements in Lost Grimoires 2 are achievable in one playthrough, which was a nice change from many of the recent Artifex Mundi installments.  There is only one collectible (Rose Symbols) of which there is one of in each scene.  As long as you pay attention, you can easily get these.  There are also many standard achievements, including completing the game on expert, using no hints throughout the game, and completing a hidden-object puzzle in less than one minute (the most challenging achievement in the game).  All in all, I was able to complete the game in just under four hours.



The Verdict

Lost Grimoires 2: Shard of Mystery is, by far, the best of the recent hidden-object puzzle games brought to us by Artifex Mundi.  It’s mix of puzzles adds to the fun, and the only piece that I was really wishing for was a bit of variety in the seemingly recycled plot we’ve seen in many of their recent games.  I enjoyed playing through Lost Grimoires 2 in an afternoon, and I highly recommend it to fans of this genre.


Hello Neighbor

In Hello Neighbor, you live in what seems to be a perfectly normal neighborhood despite one factor – your super creepy neighbor across the street.  The aforementioned neighbor has something buried in his basement, and your sole job is to find out what it is.  Can you out-wit the creep across the street, or will you fall short and get kicked back to the curb?



The Good

The entire concept of Hello Neighbor intrigued me, and on its surface, it is a very cool game.  The AI of your neighbor learns throughout the game, and will plan more and more for your repeated attempts at getting into his home and learning his secret.  For example, he will trap an area that he knows you previously used to enter his home.  This was what drew me into Hello Neighbor, and for the most part, this feature works very well.


Hello Neighbor is difficult, in the best ways possible.  You have to think ahead and make decisions that will impact the ability of the AI to catch you.  Once in a room, do you close the door (which makes a bit of noise), or do you leave the door open and risk your neighbor more easily sneaking up on you?  The most important thing about these decisions is that you need to make the right one the first time because of the AI’s ability to learn (or, like me, you will be restarting quite a bit).  I loved this mechanic of the game, because it takes away your ability to play recklessly and you genuinely need to plan ahead.



The Bad

While I ran into a very limited number of flaws, they had pretty significant impacts on how much I enjoyed the game.  The biggest one I ran into involved the consistent function of the basic controls of the game.  There are very few controls to the game, but the one for picking an item up and/or interacting with items in the world (RB on the Xbox One) did not work consistently for me.  Sometimes, I just had to be within the general area of an item I wanted to interact with, whereas other times, I had to have pinpoint accuracy.  Other times, I was right on an item I wanted to pick up, but no matter how many times I clicked or held the button, it wouldn’t do a thing.  I had to restart the game completely for this function to work again – and as one of the few functions of the game, this was incredibly aggravating.


At one point, I appeared to fall into some alternate room-world.  I could not figure out how I had ended up in alt-world, if it had any purpose, and (most importantly) I could not replicate it.  I wouldn’t mind something like this, if I felt like it added something.  My inability to replicate it left me more confused than curious.


The Achievements

I would really love to comment on the achievements.  Nothing would make me happier.  There’s only one problem – the achievement list is even more confusing than alternate room-world that I fell into.  I don’t mind a vague, intriguing achievement list (and at first, I thought this one was intriguing), but Hello Neighbor really leaves a lot to be desired in regards to following through.  I feel like even getting one achievement in Hello Neighbor is going to require some sort of guide, and unfortunately, I cannot comment beyond that as I haven’t been able to figure out any of them so far.



The Verdict

Despite being a very intriguing game with a lot of potential, Hello Neighbor has a few major flaws (least of all being the $30 price tag).  Largely due to the finicky controls, I found myself more frustrated with this game than I did enjoying it.  For the plot and intrigue, this game may be worth the go, but I would wait until you can get it at a much better price.