Artifex Mundi is back with another hidden object game (HOG) in which you must solve puzzles, find hidden objects, complete domino sections and explore the beautifully hand-drawn locations to stop the villain and save the day. As noted in my review for ‘Eventide 2’, I am a big fan of these games and, without any doubt, as soon as I started playing this game I couldn’t stop until I had achieved the platinum. This game, however, requires two playthroughs of the main game and one of the bonus chapter in order to accomplish that.
Abyss starts out with a cutscene showing our nameless protagonist on a boat in a storm, heading out to find Robert Marceau, a famous explorer who has mysteriously disappeared. We soon find out that Robert is the protagonist’s fiancé and, despite the authorities spending several days trying to find him, she is the only one who believes that she can find and rescue him.
She hops off the boat, into the stormy waters, and begins to follow a trail of underwater glowsticks which had been left by Robert in a kind of ‘Hansel and Gretel’ fashion. We find an unknown craft and see the ghost-like image of a girl inside, we decided to investigate further and find out where this craft had come from. After a few basic puzzles and hidden object/domino sections, you arrive at Eden, a Rapture from Bioshock-esque underwater city. You find a way to enter the seemingly abandoned structure and our adventure truly begins.
If you are familiar with any previous Artifex Mundi titles then you will understand the basic gameplay elements at play here. You interact with the environment to find items which you will use at later stages to solve inventory puzzles and the game is broken down into four main puzzle categories. First of all, we have general puzzles. This game has a decent amount of these, however, some of them are very similar, if not identical, to puzzles from previous titles by the developer. For example, you have one which involves connecting wires to two symbols to make an image and you also have a puzzle involving an image with a load of faces which you must place on the correct bodies. The game does have its fair share of new puzzles though, none of which are difficult or mind-boggling, but they are fun to play through and are also another reason why I love these games, literally anyone can pick them up and play.
The next two categories are for the same sections, which is why it requires two playthroughs for the platinum as you can only do either-or. Like some of the previous games, once you reach a hidden object section, you have the choice to either participate in the hidden object scene (finding a list of items hidden within the static screen) or you can press down on the d-pad and participate in a game of dominos. It isn’t regular dominos though, you have three tiles in your inventory and one on the board, you can only place a matching symbol, or a blank next to each other and you must cover up part of every ‘target image’ on screen. There is no time limit in doing this, but there is a trophy if you do it in under a minute at least once.
The final set of puzzles you will encounter are inventory puzzles, something that quite a few modern adventure games seem to forget these days. For example, you may pick up a pair of gloves which later on you can use on electrified wires or you may find an ice pick which can be used to discover a ‘surprise’ within a block of ice. These are well done and easy enough to work out, even when you encounter the problem you tend to know what item you need to look for as a solution. The only issue which some people may have with these is that the items, other than those obtained through the above categories, aren’t always obvious and can blend into the background. For example, the key at the beginning of the game is sat next to the window, but you may overlook it (see the above image).
The voice acting can be hit or miss in these games, I’m happy to say this particular game is a hit for me. Nothing sounds ‘phoned in’ and the lines are delivered in a believable pitch and tone. The music is subtle and you could sometimes forget it is there, it’s mainly ambient sounds with a low constant tune which ramps up when a cutscene starts or something dynamic happens on screen. It’s all very fluid and non-distracting and never makes it so the voices are hard to hear or understand. I enjoy the music Artifex Mundi puts in their games, it always makes the games feel more relaxing and enjoyable to play.
Abyss features something which a few other Artifex Mundi titles do, a bonus chapter which is unlocked upon the first completion of the main game. For the trophy hunters out there, the bonus chapter is separate and the trophies relating to completing all the hidden object/domino sections doesn’t include what you do in this chapter. The bonus chapter this time is a prequel to the main game, rather than an extension to the ending.
You play as Greg, a character you meet in the main game, and you are currently living in Eden with your pregnant wife, Laura, back when the city was full of people. However, the place has already been taken over by the Legates (the evil beings from the main game) who are running the city like a police state and anyone found to be conspiring against them, or working with the rebels, would vanish and their house would be marked with a symbol. Greg’s wife has been monitoring the Legates and they have noticed this, Greg returns home and finds his wife gone and his house trashed and marked with the Legates symbol. You must now go on a mini (30min) adventure to find your wife and unborn child before it is too late.
Artifex Mundi is nailing it with the HOG games on consoles, in what some would say is a niche market. Each new series seems to be better than the last, Abyss continues this trend delivering a very relaxing experience with a really good story. I would say that this is one of the best HOG games I’ve played by Artifex Mundi on consoles, with the only downside being that some of the puzzles felt recycled from previous games, which is understandable with the number of games they have given us. As with all Artifex Mundi games, there is a demo so you can try the game out before you buy it – I would say give it a go and you never know, you may really enjoy them, just like I do.
**Game code kindly provided by Artifex Mundi**
Abyss: The Wraiths of Eden£7.99
- Very atmospheric with a great subtle soundtrack and amazing hand-drawn backgrounds
- Good story which keeps you interested
- Voice acting is really good
- Nice easy platinum within 6-8 hours
- The bonus chapter has a good story and serves as a good prequel to the game
- The puzzles can be a bit easy and if you have played previous Artifex Mundi games, familiar
- The very end part is a bit quick and left me thinking “that’s it?”