Tag Archives: Reviews

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?

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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).

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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.

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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.

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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.

2-5outof5

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?

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

3-5outof5

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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

4outof5

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?

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

2-5outof5

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!

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

2-5outof5

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!

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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.

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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.

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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!

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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.

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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.

4outof5

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?

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

2-5outof5

Slayaway Camp: Butcher’s Cut

Slayaway Camp: Butcher’s Cut takes you on a comically bloody puzzle adventure through horror movie themed stages.  You act as a serial killer, dressed in a wide variety of costumes, such as a clown or the creepiest old lady I’ve ever seen.  The puzzles are based around moving around the level in straight lines to kill everyone, while avoiding obstacles (such as water, fire, and being seen by the police).  Do you have what it takes to go on a killer puzzle rampage?

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The Good

The puzzles provide a good challenge to work through.  There are both levels with and without turn limits, and generally, the levels take careful planning to make sure you don’t get stuck in a series of moves you can’t get out of.  There is also a good hint system built in – 25 coins for a basic hint, then 100 coins for the level walkthrough (coins are earned through level completion and mini-games).  Additionally, the block-style artwork worked well for the game, and it simply screamed fun (or maybe those were my victims…).

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The Bad

The game does feel repetitive when playing for an extended period of time.  I really enjoyed the game every time I would sit down to play it, but if I played it for too long at once, I would find that the game began to drag.

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The Achievements

Slayaway Camp has a list of fifty achievements for a very wide variety of tasks and collectibles.  Many of the achievements will be earned through standard play, as they are related to completing movies and getting kills in certain ways (such as scaring a victim into the water).  A lot of the remaining achievements are focused around collectibles you can buy with in game coins – killers (which may also be unlocked with Killer Kodes) and gorepacks.  The achievement list made it easy to keep coming back to Slayaway Camp and work through as much as possible.

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The Verdict

The only aspect of Slayaway Camp: Butcher’s Cut that really hurts it is how repetitive it feels if played for too long in one sitting.  I found that this game is great to play when I have a few minutes to kill at some point during my day.  Overall, I definitely recommend this if you’re looking for a puzzle game to fill some time with.

3-5outof5

Abyss: The Wraiths of Eden

You’re on a mission to rescue Robert – an underwater explorer AND your fiancee!  In Abyss: Wraiths of Eden, you go deep into the sea in hopes of rescuing Robert and solving a wild mystery along the way.  Through hidden-object puzzles and the mysteries of Eden, will you have what it takes to bring Robert back to dry land once again?

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The Good

Abyss: The Wraiths of Eden has a great variety of hidden-object puzzles and other puzzles throughout the game.  I felt like the balance of puzzles in this game was much better than some of the other recent games in this genre I have played.  Generally, each hidden-object puzzle location was played twice, which always leads to the fun of knowing you saw something earlier and just having to find it the second time around.

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Besides the great puzzles throughout, Abyss also delivers on what I have come to expect from most Artifex Mundi games – high quality scenery that makes the game overall enjoyable to look at.  In these games, I always weigh that heavily because the scenery and the puzzles are really everything to the game, and without such beautiful art, there really wouldn’t be too much here.

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The Bad

One feature I would love to see returned to a few of the latest Artifex Mundi games would be the ability to fast travel via the map.  There are points in Abyss where I felt like I was just moving back and forth between two or three locations pretty needlessly.  It almost seems like filler to the game as opposed to real substance at some points.  This game would have felt much better if either there was more to it, or there was not so much moving back and forth between two places.

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The Achievements

As with most Artifex Mundi games in this vein, there is a pretty standard achievement list.  Achievements include things like various story progression points, completing the game on Expert, completing the bonus chapter, and completing the puzzles without using any hints.  Additionally, there are achievements for doing tasks within puzzles (like finding three items in three seconds).  While there are no collectibles in Abyss, the game does require two playthroughs – one doing hidden-object puzzles, and one doing domino puzzles.

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I would like to comment on an apparent glitch I experienced – when doing my domino game playthrough, I played through the game two extra times in which the achievement for completing all domino puzzles did not pop.  It wasn’t until a day later (when I was in a different Xbox app) that the final achievement finally popped.  This does not appear to be a widespread problem, but I just wanted to let other gamers know in case they experienced this as well.

The Verdict

Abyss: The Wraiths of Eden provides exactly what we have come to expect from Artifex Mundi point-and-click games – an enjoyable plot, a good mix of puzzles, and beautiful scenes to carry you through the game.  Artifex Mundi has developed a formula for creating their style of game, and why stray from it when it works nearly every time?  Pick up Abyss: The Wraiths of Eden if you are looking for an enjoyable game for a day or two!

3outof5

Danger Zone

Danger Zone takes the best mode of a classic game (Crash Mode in Burnout Revenge) and runs with it.  In Danger Zone, your goal is to create as much damage as possible with your car by driving into a variety of traffic scenarios.  Are the scenarios realistic? No! But why would you want them to be!?  By firing Smashbreakers (manual explosions earned through hitting a certain number of cars or through pickups) you can adjust the trajectory of your car, as well as increase the multiplier that earns you money.  How much damage can you earn?

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The Good

Danger Zone, simply put, is good, clean, explosive fun.  Through a wide variety of levels (32 in total), you have the opportunity to blow up as many cars as you can while finding out how to earn the most money.  In each level, you have an opportunity to earn one of two medals – either the Grand Slam bonus (worth $5 million for picking up every cash bonus in order from lowest to highest) or the Smash and Grab bonus (worth $2.5 million for picking up every cash bonus in any order).  These pickups in each stage create an added level of strategy to a help you climb the leaderboards as quickly as possible.

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The Bad

The only real thing that could have improved Danger Zone is something like an ability to choose from a variety of vehicles on each level.  That would add to the replay value of the game, which is the only the only thing I found Danger Zone to be lacking.

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The Achievements

Danger Zone has 13 achievements, and took me somewhere between 12-15 hours to complete.  The list is pretty basic, largely made up of achievements for completing tiers of levels, earning each bonus for the first time, and performing tasks that you will likely earn through regular gameplay and progression.  The one outlying achievement is for earning 10 platinum medals.  This was the most time consuming, and most fun, achievement in the entire list, as it took real strategy and careful planning on some levels.

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The Verdict

Danger Zone is a great game that has little room for improvement.  The space that could be improved would be through adding some form of replayability, either through an improved achievement list or through adding elements to the game such as car selection.  Other than that, Danger Zone is near perfect and is one of the most fun games I’ve played in a long time!

4-5outof5