The demonic preacher of Enigmatis has been a thorn in our side ever since we ventured into Maple Creek, popping up once more in Ravenwood too. Artifex Mundi have delivered us a third and final chapter to conclude the hidden object adventure, which will hopefully see us ridding the world of the preacher in the process. The previous instalments of Enigmatis leave the finale with a lot to live up to though, so can Enigmatis 3: The Shadow of Karkhala really end the trilogy on a high point?
Well, technically it does reach one of its highest points, as we’re heading to the top of the Karakorum Mountains!
The main protagonist, a private investigator/detective, is hot on the trail of the elusive preacher and it’s led her to the Asian mountain range of Karakorum, alongside fellow detective Rick Hamilton. When they arrive however, things don’t quite go to plan with an ancient creature separating the two; it all gets a little grim when it’s revealed that the majority of those who lived or worked on this remote location have met their demise. That’s putting it nicely though as in reality, it’s an absolute bloodbath and if you don’t gain access to an ancient monastery to put an end to the evil you’ll be next to face the chop.
Enigmatis 3 creates a fitting continuation for the narrative with plenty of lore to fill in the gaps for any questions you may have and in a storytelling sense, there’s not much to complain about. There’s a fair bit of detective work to do, placing clues and such on an evidence board under the correct headings to learn more about the goings on. You’ll be piecing together why these people had to die, whilst also thinking about how they were murdered, who to trust and, given the icy nature of the environment as well, it sparks memories of The Thing – albeit a less horrific, more psychological thriller vibe.
The voicework is still as unconvincing as ever sadly, apart from one moment where I believed they could’ve been in minor peril; at which point they were on the verge of plummeting to their death in a plane, so not minor in the slightest really. Otherwise, the characters are decent enough to help support the tale and have interest back-stories to tell.
It’s fair to say that the gameplay seldom varies across the majority of the point-and-click hidden object puzzlers under the Artifex Mundi umbrella and indeed this one follows the pattern of traversing scenes to find useful items, which in turn can be used to solve a problem or instigate a mini-game. The mini-games are rather hit and miss unfortunately, with the execution being a problem more than anything else.
On the positive side, there’s a cool mini-game involving a caliper to pinpoint a location on a map, a wonderful box puzzle where multiple problems must be solved using the items within, and a section which sees you scouring pictures on a laptop to find the digits required for a safe. But the enjoyable ones are occasionally counter-acted by those that are poorly made, such as the labyrinth with two balls inside which don’t behave normally in regards the physics, whilst the mini-game that requires you to free up a water wheel blocked by junk just gets messy.
And then there are the hidden object scenes, full of decoy items that aren’t on your list to find and plenty of objects that can’t be checked off the list until you’ve combined them with others e.g. mixing colours to paint a sphere in the colour specified or using a drill to obtain a water jet. Finding the regular items is challenging as they blend almost too well, but that’s fine compared to the increase in special items to locate. It can sometimes be a real pain to figure out what combination is necessary and the temptation is there to switch to the optional pair matching alternative activity – that’s not exciting or interesting in the slightest though.
Keeping you on your toes between the puzzles, offering replay value for anyone who misses them initially, are a trio of different types of collectibles: Widow’s Sorrows (flowers), White Feathers and ‘Morphing Objects’. The morphing objects are basically distorted parts of an area that morph into a different realm momentarily. Only the eagle eyed detectives will garner the lot on a single playthrough, ensuring there’s never a dull moment for those keen to hunt them down.
It’ll only take a few hours to complete the main adventure and then the bonus one, Blood on the Snow, unlocks to add almost another hour to the longevity. This bonus chapter is intriguing as it follows someone working on the mountain during the grisly events prior to our detective arriving on the scene. Again, the storytelling triumphs over the puzzles, but that’s more me praising the former than knocking the latter.
The visuals found in Enigmatis 3 are of a very good quality, especially given that they’re hand-drawn, creating some lovely environments when not engulfed in the blankets of snow. I’m not entirely convinced by the accompanying sounds as despite not being intrusive, they don’t do enough to ramp up the tension for the truly uneasy moments – a missed opportunity more than anything else.
Enigmatis 3: The Shadow of Karkhala warrants a lot of credit for capping off the trilogy with an end it justly deserves and the long-standing rivalry put to bed without any questions left unanswered. To be fair, the mini-games and hidden object scenes are mostly of a good standard, let down only by a handful of issues, some tricky ideas to comprehend and a couple of poorly implemented concepts. The sound department needs a bit of work in many areas, however the visuals are at least as lovely as ever.
If you’ve hunted the preacher for this long, you simply must experience the finale for some much need closure.