When I happened upon the first Nightmares from the Deep, The Cursed Heart, I expected a horrifying experience that would keep me awake for days. Instead, it was a pleasant surprise to be able to relax and solve oodles of puzzles in a haunting, but not scary, pirate setting. There’s already been one sequel from Artifex Mundi, in the form of The Siren’s Call, and now the trilogy is coming to a close with Nightmares from the Deep 3: Davy Jones. Will it be a grand finale for this trio of treacherous tales, or should it be sent to Davy Jones’ Locker to remain forevermore?
Sarah Black is one extremely unfortunate lady, as she’s involved in yet another kidnapping ordeal when the legendary Davy Jones arrives out of nowhere to take her and her daughter, Cory, in order to keep them quiet about his existence in this world. After Cory has been coerced into signing a deal with the devil himself, Sarah must find a way to break the pact, with a little help from the other poor souls on the cursed island Davy Jones resides on. The devil of the sea should never underestimate the determination of a museum curator who’s been through far worse and lived to tell the tale… twice!
That’s the narrative in Nightmares from the Deep 3: Davy Jones and it’s not too dissimilar from the previous iterations of the series. Finding special tokens to hand in to various guardians throughout the story will delve deeper into the character of Davy Jones and his origins, which is rather interesting. It rarely has any edge of the seat moments though, but that’s mainly down to the voice acting which, once again, is truly woeful. The majority of the characters don’t seem that bothered about the looming danger, so it’s hard to buy into it, and the menacing nature of Davy isn’t conveyed too well – the character model looks the part, but lacks the voice.
Stories aren’t the be all and end all in puzzle games though, are they? And everything is a puzzle of sorts in this point and click adventure, where every item picked up on this cursed island and acquired via mini-games has a use. Whether it’s a needle and thread to sew together a broken net for catching fireflies, or a dice to give to a joyful skeleton who just wants to play a board game with you, there’s always a purpose. You’re only ever a couple of clicks away from launching the other types of puzzling activities; mini-games and hidden object scenes.
There are loads of mini-games present to test your logic and memory. These can be as simple as rotating pieces of a puzzle to create a completed picture and matching pairs of symbols to find the odd one out, or as tricky as remembering a sequence of jingling bells and those tile sliding puzzles that can take forever to get them all into their correct places. None are impossible though, and with patience, the solution will come, but there will be a few mini-games that cause frustration. Of course, the skip option is always at hand should you need it to advance.
Then we have the always interesting hidden object scenes, with a list chock full of items for you to find within an area full of stuff. These scenes are like a hoarder’s dream, which makes finding anything a real task, in a good way. Occasionally you’ll need to interact with items to locate the one you want, such as opening a drawer or combining items to achieve the end product required. There’s nothing too different going on here in comparison to previous offerings of the trilogy, but they’re fun nevertheless. Aside from the dreaded cursor that is, failing to register the item you’re hovering over far too often.
Once the main story is over, the replay value comes in the way of playing again on Expert level – without indication of where to go and limited hints – or picking up any of the three well-hidden collectible types that you may have missed. There’s also a bonus chapter featuring the island’s inhabitants in the aftermath of what’s gone on, which is only short but features a far more credible villain.
The visuals are simply wonderful, with the hand-drawn artwork of such a high quality that the scenes are brought to life. There’s always an eerie atmosphere and the vivid colours attract attention to everything placed within the environment. Significantly less praise can be given to the animation though, mainly due to the pixelated nature of parts and the weird facial movements. It peaks in the opening segment of the campaign with the grand appearance of a ship from nowhere, but then never comes close in terms of quality or excitement afterwards.
Nightmares from the Deep 3: Davy Jones could easily tide you over for a good six hours or so, with decent puzzles and beautiful artwork. The sheer amount of mini-games is impressive, with enough variety to prevent them from becoming stale here, but I do fear a lot of the concepts have been used in previous incarnations many times over. Although the origins of Davy Jones are interesting, the execution of the story, the voiceovers, and the animation, all hold it back. That darned cursor puts a dampener on proceedings too; it still bugs me that it’s so inaccurate after so many Artifex Mundi releases.
I enjoyed my time with Nightmares from the Deep 3, but it’s not groundbreaking and doesn’t go the extra mile to warrant the recent price hike seen on all the games from Artifex Mundi. The trilogy doesn’t end on a high, however, it’s an alright puzzling experience that’s worth a look in the sale.