Demon Hunter is one of Artifex Mundi’s long-running hidden object adventure series’, with a total of five instalments now ported across from the PC. Rather bizarrely though, they’ve been released out of order on Xbox; the fifth, and most recent, offering is actually the inaugural title that first saw light of day way back in 2014, Demon Hunter: Chronicles from Beyond.
Did Artifex Mundi save the best till last, or is it too late for the ageing Demon Hunter: Chronicles from Beyond to stand out alongside the more recent games of a similar ilk?
Demon Hunter: Chronicles from Beyond begins with a suspected murder at the Ashmore Residency Estate. Two scientists were messing about, performing dangerous experiments when something went awry. One of them is now dead, Professor Ashmore, while his colleague Dr. Alexander Vor is presumed the culprit. The protagonist of the tale, Dawn Harlock, grew up there and decides to return in order to investigate the goings on. There’s something mysterious afoot, she’s sure of it.
Sadly, there’s not enough meat on the bones to consider it an interesting tale, with demon involvement set to a minimum; there’s very little storytelling throughout. To give you an idea of just how bland the narrative is, the highlight comes from an elderly neighbour asking you to find Mr. Hickory, her cat. The terrible voiceovers do nothing to help encapsulate you in this world either, mostly coming across as lacking enthusiasm and emotion. And so the only hope of an engaging experience relies upon the puzzling instead.
As a hidden object puzzle adventure, your time will be split amongst inventory-based problem solving, hidden object scenes, and mini-games. The inventory stuff is straightforward enough, seeing you gather items left around each area and eventually use them to overcome any obstacles. It could be as simple as finding a can opener to lure out the cat using food, or combining various parts of a diving suit together to make a whole one. Sometimes the placement and purpose of items is a tad fortuitous or far-fetched, but overall it’s fine.
In regards to the hidden object sections, it tasks you with finding a whole list of objects in a scene like rubies, a hammer, cards and such. To add a bit of trickery to proceedings, certain objects morph into other things every so often to deceive you. Even then, locating the list of objects is remarkably easy which, when coupled with the generally gloomy environment, leads to the activity being rather uninspiring. The unreliable accuracy of the cursor, suggesting the object selected is incorrect and then subsequent interactions say otherwise, really confounds the disappointment.
Surely, the mini-game puzzles will be the saving grace for Demon Hunter: Chronicles from Beyond, right?
While the mini-games don’t offer much in terms of ingenuity, the variety is decent enough to provide a diversion from the rest of the activities. Expect to engage in puzzles including a mirror one where you have to direct lights to jewels of the same colour; a Lights Out style affair using fuses; a labyrinth that needs fixing by rotation; and a mathematical problem in which the sum of each row and column must equal a specific number. Nothing here should be too difficult to overcome, in fact there are a few stupendously easy mini-games present.
On the visual front, Demon Hunter: Chronicles from Beyond shows its age and the sporadic cutscenes expose how dated it is. Anything animated seems quite blurry, but putting that aspect aside, even the static scenes lack the quality expected of Artifex Mundi games. Whether it’s the estate grounds, the mansion interior, or the depths of the sea, none of the hand-drawn artwork leaves you in awe.
You can be all done and dusted with the main story of Demon Hunter: Chronicles from Beyond in a couple of hours, so don’t anticipate a lengthy adventure. Heck, the bonus chapter focusing on the immediate aftermath only adds around thirty minutes of content. Replayability is not particularly a factor, unless you fancy venturing back in to find collectables hidden all over the place. Given how the collectable-related Xbox achievements require just seven of the twenty-eight to be found, I’m not sure why you’d bother.
Demon Hunter: Chronicles from Beyond is a short offering and fails to excel in any aspect. The weak storytelling, apathetic acting and lacklustre visuals are disappointing enough – and that’s without the mediocre puzzling exploits. While the mini-games do an alright job, they’re vastly outnumbered by the below-par hidden object scenes. Everything combined makes for a game that doesn’t provide good value for money, nor a fulfilling adventure.
Unless you’re a hardcore fan of hidden object puzzle adventures, Demon Hunter: Chronicles from Beyond isn’t worth your consideration. Actually, it’’ll be a hard sell even if you are a fan.
Demon Hunter: Chronicles from Beyond is out now on the Xbox Store