Nearly a year ago, Artifex Mundi crashed onto the Xbox One console with their debut title Nightmares from the Deep: The Cursed Heart
. Since then, three more of their games from different series have kept Xbox One players entertained with their tales of the supernatural. With the Nightmares
anniversary fast approaching, Artifex Mundi's latest title is the sequel to that original game: Nightmares from the Deep 2: The Siren's Call
. Just what will happen to the hapless museum curator now?
If you haven't played the first game in the series, it is recommended that you do so first. If you really
don't want to do this, a quick cutscene will bring new players up to speed with the events so far. Having returned to the museum after her unplanned cruise upon a ghost ship, Sarah Black is sitting in her office on another dark and stormy night when she receives an unexpected visitor. The visitor brings a box that can only be opened by an artifact that sits on display in her museum. Unfortunately, the artifact is stolen once the box is opened and Sarah accompanies the mysterious visitor on a journey to save a village from a curse and the terrifying clutches of sailors' devil Davy Jones.
As you would expect by now, Nightmares 2
is a simple Point & Click title where players will need to search a variety of locations for clues or items and solve simple puzzles. While there are objects that can be acquired just from browsing an area, most of the searching takes place through three types of hidden object games. Accompanying the standard hidden object games are occasional picture-based fragmented object games where players must search smaller scenes for pieces of an object to create a whole. The third type is the interactable hidden object game where players must use the objects that they find to solve a string of puzzles. This so far is very familiar to Artifex fans, but the variety does stop the hidden object gameplay from outstaying its welcome.
This ship may look familiar
Other Artifex titles offer an alternative if you start to tire of the hidden object gameplay and Nightmares 2
is no exception. Like the first title in the series, players can choose to complete a mahjong board instead of searching through jumbled piles of items. Unfortunately, this optional part of the gameplay is also the most frustrating, especially if you're trying to earn the achievement for completing a mahjong game in under 60 seconds. Players must navigate slowly across the mahjong board by using
and this can be clumsy, especially when the game fails to recognise unmatched tiles that are sitting at the edges of the board, making them impossible to select without taking a strange roundabout route. The mahjong gameplay is redeemed when the remaining tiles are automatically shuffled if the player runs out of viable moves, so failure is impossible.
The rest of the Artifex staples are here too. There is a variety of mini-games that vary in difficulty, although none are likely to have the player stumped for too long. There is also a choice of two difficulties -- Normal and Expert -- for those that want to add an extra degree of challenge to the proceedings. Luckily, the one thing that was missing from the first game in the series has made a welcome return in Nightmares 2
-- fast travel. Using the handy in-game map, players are able to select any scene and travel back and forth with just a few seconds of loading. Gone is the need to backtrack repeatedly through scenes that had been completed quite a while ago, just to reach the area that was needed.
There's a secret door in that statue, but it's up to you to work out how to get through it
Upon completion of the 3-5 hour main storyline, players will unlock a bonus chapter that tells the events that immediately follow the conclusion of the main story. The chapter will add an extra 30-50 minutes to your play time and offers more of the same gameplay, but also offers a new selection of locations and a couple of new characters. Unlike the first game, this bonus chapter has now received the same degree of polish that was lavished on the main storyline, so there are no glaring spelling mistakes or incorrectly named objects to find. It also serves as a convenient prequel to the third game and the conclusion of the Nightmares
series, a game that will surely make its way onto the Xbox One console soon.
Finally, we reach the achievement list and there are no surprises here. Don't skip any puzzles, don't use any hidden object hints and be quick (and accurate) with all of the different types of puzzles. The choice of mahjong or hidden object puzzles means that you'll need two playthroughs to gather all of the achievements, one of which must be on Expert difficulty. The good news is that the puzzles in the bonus chapter do not count in those totals, meaning that only one playthrough of the bonus chapter is necessary. Accompanying the usual list are 13 secret and unmissable story-related achievements. There is some bad news, though; there are three
types of collectibles that are scattered around the game's many locations. You'll need to find all of them if you want to complete the game.
It shouldn't surprise anybody to find that Nightmares from the Deep 2: The Siren's Call is yet another solid title from Artifex Mundi. Although it offers few surprises, this is not a bad thing. The hidden object and puzzle gameplay is solid, and is only let-down by the clunky mahjong controls. However, the story is an enjoyable romp across a cursed island. If it's one thing that Artifex Mundi fans have learned, it's that you never go anywhere on a dark and stormy night when there is no shortage of supernatural threats.
- Simple and accessible gameplay
- Mahjong games offer alternative to hidden objects
- Fast travel returns
- Clumsy navigation of the mahjong boards
The reviewer spent nine hours feeling like Neptune as she tried to lift a curse on an island of fish-like men and women. So that she could earn all 30 of the game's achievements, she even lifted the curse twice. An Xbox One copy of the game was provided by the developer for the purpose of this review.