HomeReviews2.5/5 ReviewLost Artifacts 5: Frozen Queen Review

Lost Artifacts 5: Frozen Queen Review

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Before this month, I hadn’t played an 8floor Games title before. Now, with Gnomes Garden 5: Halloween, Gnomes Garden 7: Christmas Story and Lost Artifacts 5: Frozen Queen under my belt, I feel like I have learned some valuable lessons. 

Lesson #1 is that the Gnomes Garden games and Lost Artifact games may seem like different series, but they are very much of a piece. Lesson #2 is that all of the games we’ve mentioned are virtually identical. If you’ve played one, you have played them all. They even share the same bugs. 

If we’d known that Lost Artifacts 5: Frozen Queen was more of the same, we might have given ourselves some breathing room before playing it. When it comes to the score and the general tone of the review, you might want to allow for the fact that the fatigue was real. We played all three games in the space of three weeks, and that was way too much. We don’t want to see another one of these games for a very, very long time. 

lost artifacts 5 frozen queen review 1
The Frozen Queen of Lost Artifacts 5

Lost Artifacts 5: Frozen Queen kicks off with a comic. Explorer Claire and her crew have happened upon a cave, and inside is a woman encased in ice. Claire does what any good Samaritan would do, and thaws out the woman, but – bah! – she turns out to be the titular Frozen Queen, who doesn’t seem thankful for the long nap. She summons some ice giants, tosses a few icicles at poor old Claire, and immediately starts hunting for artifacts that will bring her back to full strength. 

Without the ability to face Queenie in combat, Claire does what any self-respecting tomb raider would do, and aims to get the artifacts first. And so begins the adventure, as you control Claire’s crew, moving from location to location, hunting for – and stealing – any artifacts you find. 

For anyone yet to encounter one of the twelve Lost Artifacts or Gnomes Garden games, the gameplay goes something like this: you are given a single, top-down screen, filled with ruins of a civilisation. Your camp is in one corner of the screen, with paths leading toward those ruins. Armed with a single cursor, you are clicking on and picking up resources, which will help fund the rebuilding of the ruins, as well as unblocking the paths. By rebuilding the ruins, you are constructing sawmills for lumber, mills for food, and quarries for stone. The resources pump out regularly, which enables you to clear further paths and rebuild other buildings. Eventually, you will have satisfied the objectives that run along the bottom of the screen. The level is over, you are handed three stars, and you can move onto the next. 

It has its own particular appeal. There’s a nice rhythm to it all, as you start by hoovering up resources, before deciding where to spend them. Often that’s a decision between upgrading what you have or building something new. Then you’re pushing further out into the corners of the map, and that feels pretty good too. It’s akin to tidying a room or power-washing your car: you are removing the stuff you don’t want, leaving something that is clean and working behind. And all of it is (relatively) time and pressure free. There are stars for how quickly you complete each level, but most of the time you can kick back and rebuild towns while you’re eating your brekkie. 

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You’ll keep on working in Lost Artifacts 5

The levels have different layouts, and there’s a minor deviation of approach. Some levels require a little finesse, as you spend your resources wisely or risk running out of something crucial. Some levels don’t actually give you the resource you need, so you’re trading whenever demand outstrips supply. The largest majority are branching paths, so the strategy comes from deciding which path to clear first. 

It’s not a particularly big toybox, if we’re being honest. Even within Lost Artifacts 5: Frozen Queen, the number of scenarios are too limited, and the buildings repeat. The same combo of mill, sawmill and quarry appears in pretty much every level, and they will always be your priority. Even the objectives – which is where Lost Artifacts 5: Frozen Queen has the most room to be inventive (build a statue! Fix an aqueduct!) – are all treated in much the same manner. Some resources are needed to fix them, so start gathering them up buddy.

To be fair to Lost Artifacts 5: Frozen Queen, the number of unique hotspots feels greater than in the Gnomes Garden games. Someone has been making new constructions for you to raid artifacts from every few levels. In Gnomes Garden, we felt like there was very little bespoke. It all felt borrowed from the other games. 

Something that is shared from the Gnomes Garden games is the unholy Quick Resume and save bugs. Surely 8floor Games could have solved this by now? There is no formal save system in Lost Artifacts 5: Frozen Queen, which is problematic. Quit out of the game, and you will lose all progress. We opened and shut menus, accessed the game’s credits – everything – in the hope that the game would trigger a save, and it would do so roughly fifty percent of the time. 

Which is a deadly combination with the Quick Resume bugs. Whenever you try to boot the game, the Quick Resume fails, restarting the game canceling any previous progress (which probably didn’t save anyway). We’ve replayed levels four or five times, and that doesn’t help with the feelings of fatigue and repetition. We were glad to see the back of the whole thing, in all honesty. 

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WHY did you free her?

If you’re a Lost Artifacts or Gnomes Garden fan, I’d love to hear more from you. What is it about the formula that makes you keep coming back? How can you stomach twelve of these games? Is the familiarity half of the point? Because we rarely feel burnout from playing games (and not the good Burnout, either), yet burnout is very definitely what we feel after Lost Artifacts 5: Frozen Queen. 

The lack of variety is almost wilful. Play Lost Artifacts 5: Frozen Queen and the levels will soon bleed into one, making it more of a chore or a rote pattern. Play more than one Lost Artifacts or Gnomes Garden game in a row, though, and it teeters close to torture. 

Lost Artifacts 5: Frozen Queen isn’t a bad little resource management game – at times it’s relaxing, at others it’s a lightweight puzzle – but it’s too much of a bland thing. The sheer number of levels, alongside a complete lack of variety, felt like we were on a diet of bread and water for the week we played it.

SUMMARY

Pros:
  • Allows you to zone out as you play
  • Some reasonably tight little puzzles
  • Nicely presented
Cons:
  • Almost identical to the other games
  • Including the Quick Resume and save bugs
  • Sucks the life out of you as you play
Info:
  • Massive thanks for the free copy of the game go to - Purchased by TXH
  • Formats - Xbox Series X|S, Xbox One (review), PS4, PS5, PC
  • Release date and price - 24 May 2023 | £4.19
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<b>Pros:</b> <ul> <li>Allows you to zone out as you play</li> <li>Some reasonably tight little puzzles</li> <li>Nicely presented</li> </ul> <b>Cons:</b> <ul> <li>Almost identical to the other games</li> <li>Including the Quick Resume and save bugs</li> <li>Sucks the life out of you as you play</li> </ul> <b>Info:</b> <ul> <li>Massive thanks for the free copy of the game go to - Purchased by TXH</li> <li>Formats - Xbox Series X|S, Xbox One (review), PS4, PS5, PC <li>Release date and price - 24 May 2023 | £4.19</li> </ul>Lost Artifacts 5: Frozen Queen Review
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