When the first Eventide arrived almost a year ago, the Slavic mythology was lovingly brought to life in a tale full of creative mini-games and visually rich hand drawn scenes. It wasn’t all sunshine and roses though, with shortness, voice acting and technical flaws being a hindrance to Artifex Mundi’s point and click adventure. Now is their chance to put things right in the sequel, Eventide 2: Sorcerer’s Mirror, but have the developers learnt the error of their ways to ensure a more magical outing full of Eastern European folklore?
Somehow I think they’ve actually digressed a little.
The adventure opens with the famous botanist from the first game, Mary, on a rock climbing activity alongside her niece Jenny. Next thing she knows and poor Jenny is being dragged away by some thugs and the journey to save her begins. The person responsible is a powerful mage named Tvardovsky who drains the residents of a desolate mountain village, in return for them getting to spend time with apparitions of their dead loved ones. Mary will need all the help she can get if Tvardovsky’s grand scheme involving Jenny is to be figured out and stopped.
It’s not a bad story, instead it is a decent but sad one in truth, as the master plan is unravelled and the motives behind it all come to the forefront. The thing that lets it down though is in the lack of Slavic creatures featured; only the Imps could be considered as fitting the bill and more creatures are definitely needed to help create a truly magical world. Even the wonderful bestiary collectibles don’t make a return in this sequel – this time the collectible cards and mirrors to seek out don’t have anything interesting to offer at all.
Artifex Mundi have attempted a new game mechanic to aid in the engagement of the storytelling, and that’s in the form of choice driven parts of the narrative. Do you help the henchman of the bad guy, or send him to sleep to keep him out of the way? The choices seem to be important when presented to you, but in reality they hardly affect anything and having tried both decision routes, it’s not a feature that successfully encourages replayability. Length-wise the tale is over pretty quickly, at just over two hours needed for completion, and therefore it could’ve done with more reason to play through things again. There isn’t even a bonus chapter to squeeze a bit of extra game time out of.
But in a game of this ilk, Eventide 2 lives and dies by the quality of its puzzles and hidden object scenes. And the latter rarely ever falters, with lovely hand drawn areas full of intriguing items to find from the creatively thought up lists. Half of the fun is discovering that a specific item isn’t on show and must be located by combining other things together or interacting with the scene in some way. The rest of the enjoyment comes from finding that last pesky object to complete the list and receive the item needed to progress the story. Apart from the inaccurate cursor, which generally plagues this developer’s games on Xbox One, I thoroughly enjoyed scouring all the scenes.
The lack of variety in the puzzling mini-games is what really saddened me, because most of them have been done already in their other titles and even those just within Eventide 2 became boring. There are only so many times I want to watch a storyboard play out whilst I select the missing items, or link certain coloured gears together; I’ve done it before and it gets stale, despite the new settings and themes. I also don’t think there are enough of the pure mini-games, but I guess that’s due to Artifex Mundi running out of ideas.
Visually, I don’t have a bad word to say about the hand crafted environments or the lovely hidden object scenes, with the mountain village and surrounding areas all suiting the isolation of the location. It’s just a shame about the local residents as some are quite poor to look at, with facial constructs that are odd, almost like they were designed in a rush. The voice acting is also an issue – which is no surprise given the lack of a quality tends to be present in nearly all these games. It results in the voiceovers being so unconvincing that I’m more inclined to believe that Imps are real rather than to believe in the characters’ emotions.
Eventide 2 lacks that spark of magic, with the Slavic mythology not shining as bright as it did in the previous game. There aren’t enough interesting creatures, the setting is nothing more than decent and the story itself is over far too quick for my liking. Fortunately, it’s saved from being a terrible offering by the hidden object scenes, full to the brim with intriguing items to find, and the overall quality of the artwork. The puzzles are getting a tad stale, but there is still enjoyment to be had from solving some of them.
Eventide 2: Sorcerer’s Mirrors could quite possibly be one of the worst puzzling adventures from Artifex Mundi. It’s still not awful though, just nowhere near as good value for money or as stimulating as others.