Artifex Mundi continues to bombard the Xbox One with casual point and click titles and their tenth title is the second in the Grim Legends trilogy. Whereas the trilogies usually follow a single storyline, the instalments in the Grim Legends series instead share a fairy tale common theme. With no direct relation to Grim Legends: The Forsaken Bride, Grim Legends 2: Song of the Dark Swan allows both Artifex Mundi veterans and newcomers alike to enjoy a story that is based on the Brothers Grimm fairy tale The Six Swans.
The king of the Eagle Kingdom is happily married to the woman of his dreams. The couple have just welcomed a son into their family, yet the queen has never spoken a word. A renowned healer is summoned to assist the young lady and hopefully help her to speak again. Of course, as this is an Artifex Mundi title, nothing is as it seems. What appears to be a mysterious ailment instead turns into a tale that is far more complicated than first thought, especially when the baby prince is kidnapped amidst a cloud of magical green smoke. Can the prince be saved?
Those who are familiar with the Brothers Grimm story will not find any surprises here — the game follows the fairy tale with very little deviation. For others, the story twists and turns in ways that can be surprising, although many Artifex Mundi veterans will see the main twist coming from a mile away. Perhaps because of the calibre of the story's foundations, the supporting characters seem more relatable than usual and not all are supposed to be likeable, especially when their moral judgement is questionable and is something that is a refreshing change.
This is too peaceful
The 3-4 hours needed to complete the story take players through a variety of pretty hand-drawn locations that barely reflect the sinister nature of the unfolding tale. As normal, more locations are revealed as the game progresses but the story is linear and scenes are blocked off at key points in the story when you no longer need to return to the area. This does lead to several hidden object locations being used more than once, but when compared to other titles that used every scene 2-3 times, there's very little risk of scene fatigue here. Of the locations that are active, you can travel between them at will and a fast travel map is available; this is supposed to make travelling quicker but seems pointless when only a couple of scenes stand between you and your destination.
Unsurprisingly, the standard point and click gameplay returns and is mixed with hidden object games and puzzles. The full range of hidden object puzzles is present although seems to be weighted towards those with pictorial lists. This removes most but not the entire confusion presented by word clues. There was one memorable scene where it was required to find a "face"; meanwhile, four different faces stared out of the screen. Only one satisfied the list even if they were all technically correct. There were also occasional issues with the game recognising that the player had clicked on the correct object, with clicks not registering properly. This issues are minor, though, and the hidden object games work well for the majority of the time.
Pick a face. Any face. No, not that one.
There is a large variety of logic based puzzles to accompany the hidden object scenes. It is here where the game's "unique" hook comes into play. Throughout the story, players will be accompanied by one of three companions that each come with their own ability. The swallow can reach items that the healer cannot, the otter can chase threats away and the forest spirit can make plants grow or shrink at will. There's nothing new here but it's nice that the game doesn't rely on one trope throughout. While the other puzzles aren't too difficult, they're more difficult than the puzzles found in Lost Grimoires. The skip function can move you onwards so that your story never grinds to a halt, but the puzzle reset button is noticeably missing from a lot of puzzles, usually those where it is most needed.
Unlike the first Grim Legends title, there is no alternative to the hidden object puzzles to offer reason for another playthrough, but there is a bonus chapter that unlocks upon completion of the main story. The two-part chapter is set prior to the events of the main game but tells a story that is unrelated and a little bizarre. The forest spirits are in danger from a dragon and players must defeat it, first from the perspective of the forest spirits and then from the perspective of a much younger princess, as the queen was back then. Expert difficulty also offers to add replayability to the title but changes little in terms of the challenge presented to players, aside from a longer hint recharge, a reduced number of hints and a penalty for too many incorrect clicks during hidden object scenes.
It might be a small dragon, but when you're a tiny forest spirit then I guess it's quite threatening
Without an alternative to the hidden object puzzles, just a single playthrough is required to earn all of the achievements. As usual, you'll need to make sure you play on Expert difficulty, don't skip any of the mini games and don't use any hints in the hidden object scenes. Ten of the achievements are unmissable and story-related, with another coming for completing the main story and two more for completing the bonus chapter. There is one missable achievement for scaring away six butterflies, but there are ample opportunities to do this. Finally, the game's collectibles, the sigils, serve no purpose other than to unlock the the final three achievements. Due to the nature of the game's layout, if you miss one before progressing past a point of no return then you'll need to start a new playthrough to be able to retrieve it.
SummaryDespite its name, Grim Legends 2 has no story links with Grim Legends, meaning that both Artifex Mundi veterans and newcomers alike can enjoy the game. The Brothers Grimm fairy tale upon which the game is based makes the story feel stronger and the characters more believable, even if there aren't many surprises. The standard point and click gameplay returns along with Artifex Mundi's customary hidden object games and this works relatively well with just a couple of very minor hiccups. There's a lack of alternative to the hidden object gameplay but there's a bonus chapter to make up for it. While it might not be the best title that Artifex Mundi has released, it's a fitting and competent middle instalment to the Grim Legends trilogy.
- Simple and accessible gameplay
- Stronger story
- More relatable characters
- No alternative to the hidden object gameplay
- Some minor hiccups when clicking on objects
EthicsThe reviewer spent five hours trying to reverse an old curse and save the day again. After that, she spent a rather bizarre hour in the company of forest spirits. Between this she earned all of the game's 26 achievements. An Xbox One copy of the game was provided by the ID@Xbox team for the purpose of this review.
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