Artifex Mundi is fast becoming known as THE purveyor of casual point and click titles on Xbox One. Their titles began appearing on the console back in September 2015. By the time they reach their 2 1/2 year anniversary, they'll have released 15 titles on Xbox. Lost Grimoires 2: Shard of Mystery, the follow up to April's Lost Grimoires: Stolen Kingdom, is title number 13. The good news is this title avoids the bad luck that is associated with that number, although its characters really aren't so lucky.
An evil witch, Drosera, waged war against the King and his people. To defeat her, his alchemists created the Chasm Mirror, a portal to another dimension, and imprisoned her within it. The four years of war took its toll on the King, who fell ill on the journey back to the capital. Unable to cure him, the King's alchemist is tasked with raising his son, Prince Fern, and preparing him for his coronation. Shortly before that can take place, the Prince disappears and it is up to the alchemist, the story's protagonist, to find him.
The game is a sequel to Lost Grimoires but there is very little in common between the two titles. The alchemist returns and it's the same King that we rescued before, but there are no storylines to tie the two games together. You can easily play the second game in the trilogy and fully understand what's going on without having played the first game. There's even an attempt at a different story theme; while the usual Artifex Mundi themes of dark magic and fantasy are still present, those themes take a back seat to the tale of love that Lost Grimoires 2 tries to depict instead. Unfortunately, the only character you feel like you know in any regard is the protagonist alchemist. Both Prince Fern and his lover feel like props, characters who are there to help in solving a couple of puzzles, and it makes the story fall flat.
This won't end well...
On the contrary, the gameplay is as can be expected. As usual, there is standard point and click gameplay mixed with hidden object games and puzzles. The hidden object games are a mix of picture based lists and text lists, although the fragmented object games are missing from this title. Meanwhile, there are a variety of puzzles to solve aside from the hidden object scenes. Nothing here is too complicated and players won't be left scratching their heads, although the puzzles are a bit more challenging than those found in Lost Grimoires.
There is no alternative option to the hidden object games, like dominoes, meaning that the returning transfusion mini-game is the closest that you'll get to a change from those scenes. Players can combine ingredients on the fly to create potions that would help to progress, and this takes the form of matching puzzles once again. Players can match a minimum of three identical symbols, but often longer combos are required to be successful. These are easily the most challenging puzzles of the game, but there's still nothing here that would force a player to use the skip button to get past. Aside from the transfusion ingredients, players can also manipulate and combine other objects in the inventory in what will hopefully be a common gameplay feature in future titles.
Your prize is in that gauntlet
As well as the lack of alternative to the hidden object scenes, there is no bonus chapter either. The only thing that adds replayability is Expert difficulty, with no tutorial, a longer hint recharge, a reduced number of hints, and a penalty for too many incorrect clicks during hidden object scenes. For most players, especially those who are experienced Artifex Mundi gamers, you'll need just a single 3-4 hour playthrough to get all of the achievements.
As for that completion, 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. You'll also need to make sure that you complete a puzzle and a hidden object scene in less than 60 seconds, the latter of which is the most challenging achievement in the game, and that's not saying a lot. The final achievements are attached to the game's collectibles, the roses, which serve no purpose other than to unlock the achievements. Unfortunately, if you miss one before progressing past a point of no return, you'll need to start a new playthrough to be able to retrieve it, although collectible progress is combined between all playthroughs.
SummaryLost Grimoires 2 is a sequel that carries only minimal ties to the game that preceded it, meaning that it is perfectly playable on its own or as part of the trilogy. The casual adventure title can be enjoyed by all audiences due to the simple nature of its gameplay. Neither the hidden object scenes nor puzzles are too complicated, although the lack of alternative to the hidden object scenes will be jarring for some. The transfusion mechanic makes a welcome return and provides the most challenging puzzles of the title, although there is nothing that will see players rushing for the hint button or a guide. The title is a more worthwhile experience than its predecessor, but there have been better games in the Artifex Mundi portfolio.
- Can be played independently of its predecessor
- Gameplay still holds up
- Transfusion mechanic provides a bit of a challenge
- Can be enjoyed by both casual and serious gamers
- No alternative to hidden object scenes
- No bonus chapter
EthicsThe reviewer spent over three hours trying to help two hopeless lovers stay together (and alive) while defeating an evil witch. She unlocked all 13 of the game's achievements. An Xbox One code was provided by the ID@Xbox team for the purpose of this review.
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