Cast your mind back to the point and click puzzler Enigmatis: The Ghosts of Maple Creek, a tale following a detective hot on the trail of a missing girl – unsurprisingly set in Maple Creek. It turned out the whole town was under the spell of an evil preacher, who had sacrificed others to dark arts. In the end he escaped, and so it’d only be right to see a sequel appear for what was arguably the best Hidden Object game on the Xbox One at the time. Those are big shoes to fill for Enigmatis 2: The Mists of Ravenwood.
The same detective protagonist returns, still on the hunt for the despicable preacher, and picks up a lead on the West Coast about other people disappearing. On her way driving through the area, she discovers a scene of destruction where an RV has been forced off the road and subsequently abandoned. While investigating the goings on, she notices a giant claw mark before a large spectral-like beast swoops in and attempts to swipe the remaining survivor – a child. Something isn’t right here, but the only way to get answers is to venture into the beautiful redwood heritage park, Ravenwood. Nothing is as it seems though, and so the mystery begins.
One of the few consistent bugbears throughout the Hidden Object games developed by Artifex Mundi remains; the bad voice acting. Granted, it’s not a blockbuster feature film, but the general woodenness of the characters’ vocal performances, especially the droning tone of the main character, takes away from the typically impressive cutscenes thrown in. The scenes themselves, although sporadic, really capture the eerie nature of proceedings (without ever pushing it too far) and also inject a bit of excitement into Enigmatis 2 – it balances out well with the relaxing style of everything else that happens within.
Just because you can take your time to work through the various puzzles on your path of discovery, doesn’t mean you don’t need to be on alert in case any of the collectibles are hiding amongst the always beautifully hand-drawn settings. Butterflies are ever so tiny and can be perched almost anywhere, whilst the others to keep your eye out for are parts of the environment flickering between different realities which only trigger for short period of time. It’s a great way to encourage the player to pay attention to the lovely backdrops.
Much like the original Enigmatis, the inclusion of detective work is present again; meaning any and all items of interest or clues towards the mystery will need to be sorted on an evidence board. Figuring out what each thing has to do with the case isn’t the most elaborate of tasks, however, it adds something different to do and brings out your inner Sherlock. Making the links between similar pieces of evidence helps the story unfold, as does presenting special metallic pieces of a lock to an imprisoned helper.
I know what you’re thinking – ‘get to the puzzles already!’ And I will, first focusing on the Hidden Object areas. I adore scouring a scene to find the items listed, testing my eyesight to no end and discovering strange things I’ve never even heard of. The majority of the scenes have been blended in with the items almost too well though, and so coupling that with the always iffy selection cursor not being overly accurate, produces some very difficult moments of frustration. Still, the inventiveness of creating list items by using other items is a very neat touch again. Should they get too difficult, you can switch to a pair matching game that is far easier, and in truth not as enjoyable.
Mini-games never cease to entertain me. After all the Artifex games I’ve been hands-on with, the ideas are still pretty fresh on the whole, with the classic ideas given a face-lift. For example, the old method of rotating lines in order to connect the pipes together concept has been re-jigged here, as has the manoeuvring of a labyrinth to reach an exit point. My favourite interactive story style mini-game returns, where moving objects to their correct panels furthers the story. If there was to be a criticism it’d be that there aren’t enough of these Hidden Object alternatives to get stuck into.
After conquering the main story, a bonus chapter will open, which relives the memories of a survivor to explain how some of the antagonist’s victims in waiting ended up in the predicament seen in the present day. It’s not overly long, but works well as an encore of sorts, with a decent amount of puzzles crammed into about an hour of game time.
Enigmatis 2: The Mists of Ravenwood doesn’t wander from its point and click roots, delivering quality mini-games and some creative Hidden Object tasks – even if designed to be a bit too tough at times. The story itself continues to tie-in to the original, whilst providing a few rather interesting twists and turns along the way. It’s the detective work that truly sets it apart from the many other offerings from Artifex Mundi. The voice acting could do with a bit of work, but the cutscenes are really good and do well to capture the spooky vibe needed for this supernaturally charged narrative.
Artifex Mundi have delivered a worthy follow-up in Enigmatis 2. I’m intrigued as to what comes next in the Enigmatis series, as it has been a great on-going tale so far.