When it comes to point and click puzzle games, Artifex Mundi has slowly but surely been churning out their games onto Xbox One. Starting with Nightmares from the Deep and then moving onto Clockwork Tales, which both had quiet but confirmed success, their newest release is Engimatis: The Ghosts of Maple Creek. This game sees the point and click genre take a more sinister turn, with murder and kidnapping aplenty, so be prepared for a jump scare or two every now and again.
After choosing whether to play the game on regular or expert (which has the usual differences of hint reload time and similar, with no big change to the actual game), you are thrown straight into the story. You wake up as an unnamed girl who has no memory of what just happened to her, and the story is fed to you slowly through the game as her memory comes back. Whilst this is a good way of feeding you the story, and have you figure it out at the same time as the main character, it does get a little annoying when the game keeps jumping into unnecessary flashbacks while you simply want to carry on through the story.
Enigmatis: The Ghosts of Maple Creek: PC, Xbox One [Reviewed],
Developer: Artifex Mundi
Publisher: Artifex Mundi
Release Date: 08 April 2016
Without spoiling the story too much, you learn fairly early on that you are an investigator searching for a missing girl. After being handed a huge pile of sheets and papers, you are able to piece a bit more of the story together, learning who the potential suspects are and what is the cause of the other strange goings on in the town. The story itself is intriguing, even with the jumping around, and you will definitely want to play through to the end to see the conclusion, even though you’ll have probably figured out who the bad guy is before then. If you are a wuss, like me, then be prepared for the odd jump scare; a dead body that wasn’t there before, seeing someone moving in a window in the background. Enigmatis does creepy fairly well for a puzzle game, although comparing it to a true scary game there’s no competition, the overall story, music and feel of the game is creepy.
The game follows the similar structure to the previous two titles that have come to Xbox, with mini games and hidden object puzzles taking up the bulk of the story. The hidden object puzzles see you trying to find a number of items in a cluttered screen, and you can use hints if you are struggling with these. None of them should prove much of a problem, although sometimes certain things seemed to be either named wrong or were too ambiguous. For example, you could be searching for a bat and not know whether it’s the animal or the wooden sports equipment. The mini games are usually simple puzzles, but again sometimes end up being a little confusing with not enough explanation as to what you are meant to do.
The area in which you’ll do your investigating is fairly big, with a hotel, chapel, church, graveyards, gas station and lots more to explore. It feels bigger than the previous games, which can be a plus as well as a minus. With the larger area to explore, it allows it to add more to the story and more environments to hide clues, it definitely helps the game, but at the same time you can feel a little overwhelmed and end up finding a lot of items and not be sure exactly where you need to use them. These large environments help to add to the creepy feeling too, with the night setting, eerie graves and dark churches, as well as lots of large hanging trees. You’ll be walking through the woods, worried about what you might come across next, and this creepiness is one of the game’s strongest aspects.
The characters that you will meet during your journey are interesting in themselves, as well as you wondering who is your friend and who is your foe. Unfortunately, as interesting as these characters are, the voice acting doesn’t always feel up to scratch. Emotions aren’t always expressed to the extent you’d expect, and someone being shocked at something like finding a dead body is lessened when it’s said in a fairly dull and mono toned voice. The way the cutscenes are done as well, as moving pictures rather than a flowing video, means character movements often feel a little clunky and people tend to have to stutter away from you, which looks a little awkward.
Even with these problems throughout, Enigmatis is a great point and click puzzler that fans of the genre and other Artifex Mundi games will thoroughly enjoy. The creepy and scary feel to it was a good and successful direction to go in. Unfortunately, the problems with repetitive puzzles, dull voice acting and the possibility of losing what you are meant to do next, let the game down. Whilst this game won’t be changing any minds if you aren’t a fan of the genre already, it is a solid addition to the ever growing list of point and click games on the Xbox, as well as Artifex Mundi’s own growing production of games.
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Enigmatis :The Ghosts of Maple Creek
- Creepy setting and story to the game makes it stand out from other point and click puzzles based games
- Music helps set the creepy atmosphere throughout
- Continuous flashbacks through the game break up the story a little too much rather than helping it flow
- Hidden object puzzle desciptions are sometimes a little vague or not quite right
- Voice acting and character movement is not always up to scratch