My first foray into the world of Nightmares from the Deep occurred last year, when I mistook it for a far more terrifying experience than it turned out to be. Instead it was a surprisingly relaxed adventure, full of clever mini-games and hidden-object scenes. Since being introduced to the games of developers Artifex Mundi, I’ve taken a liking to this calming genre. They’ve now released a sequel to the aforementioned game, titled Nightmares from the Deep 2: The Siren’s Call. But can this latest offering keep up the fairly high standard?

There’s no denying it, Sarah Black is a terribly unlucky person as she returns for another mysterious hidden object orientated adventure. In this new ‘nightmare’, using the term ever so lightly, the Caribbean Naval Museum curator is approached by a peculiar looking messenger whom has a package for her. He needs Sarah’s help to save a mermaid and subsequently, a whole town. It turns out that something fishy is going on in the town called Kingsmouth, quite literally as all the townspeople are transforming into odd fish creatures. Why? Well, some daft Mayor made a deal with the dreaded Davy Jones.

Getting the story out of the way first, The Siren’s Call has an interesting tale to start with, but before long the back-story fades away as the intrigue begins to wear off. In a similar vein to the first title in the series, there are not enough scares or horror moments to live up to its name. I don’t think the voice acting helped whatsoever, mainly due to the serious lack of emotion at times when it was entirely called for. Reading the text from a script in a solitary tone barely can be considered as a character voiceover and becomes more of a narration. Something which just doesn’t work for me.

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The cutscenes have naturally progressed at least, with small fight scenes and massive destruction from the legendary Kraken. Yes, I did gleefully yell ‘Release the Kraken!’, despite it actually being a creature used for purely evil intentions. Anyway, it’s pleasing to see the cutscenes playing out smoothly to compliment the really lovely hand-drawn locations you’ll frequent such as abandoned shops, a cemetery and caves.

Let’s be frank though, the real selling point comes from providing a vast amount of mini-games and hidden object scenes. Starting with the mini-games, there are many different variations throughout including mixing ingredients and following recipes, identifying a pattern in order to re-order buttons on a till and even piecing together a mosaic. One of the new mini-game types takes elements of the classic ‘Simon’ memory game where the player is expected to watch, remember and repeat a sequence of events.

Searching for items on a list for the hidden object scenes can’t change an awful lot, however there’s still plenty of ingenuity here to be admired. Looking for a circle? Then maybe it’ll want you to find a pen to then interact it with a piece of paper to draw it upon. It’s very clever and the developers have hidden so much in plain sight, I can’t get enough of these. If I would have one minor criticism, it’d be regarding the darkness of certain scenes, thus making it tricky to locate things.

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The main story can be all done and dusted in around four hours, with very little chance of you getting stuck for too long. After all, there’s always the option to skip a game. Sadly, the bonus chapter this time is extremely short, with a completion time of around 30 minutes and nothing overly exciting to shout about. That leaves any longevity dependent on your desire to try your hand at Expert mode where there are no indications as to what to do next, or to find all the collectibles. The latter is rather frustrating because one kind of collectible morphs in and out of view, so they are easily missable. At least there’s the hidden object alternative of Mahjong to focus on for a second playthrough.

Although there are a couple of nuances, I can’t help but feel a lot of Nightmares from the Deep 2: The Siren’s Call has already been done in the other Artifex Mundi games and as a result, it didn’t come across as fresh as the others. The changing of a mini-game’s skin doesn’t necessarily make it a new mini-game. Kudos for the obvious improvements in cutscenes and the clever ways hidden object lists are trying to mix it up a bit. The voicework troubled me though with its monotone delivery, which is something I found in its predecessor too.

I’m not convinced of the pirate life this time around. Nightmares from the Deep 2: The Siren’s Call merely suffers at the hands of the titles that have come before it. Not a terrible offering by any means, but seems like a step backwards in the grand scheme of things and doesn’t represent value for money in terms of play time.

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