Two months have passed and it is time for another Artifex Mundi casual point and click title to be released onto the Xbox store. This time it's the turn of Abyss: The Wraiths of Eden
, a title released on PC five years previously. Unlike some of the others, this one is a standalone adventure that takes the player on a journey into the depths of the ocean. On the other hand, like most of the others, the similar gameplay will mean that players of previous Artifex Mundi titles will know exactly what they're getting into, but that's ok if you don't like surprises.
Several days ago, deep sea explorer Robert Marceau mysteriously disappeared while on a dive. Search and rescue efforts have so far proved fruitless, but that doesn't mean that his fiancée is going to give up anytime soon. Returning to the spot where he was last seen, she discovers an art-deco utopian city on the sea bed. Originally the city was conceived as a place for people to escape the reality of the terrestrial world, where noble ideas and vast knowledge were welcomed as a possible source for new discoveries. The inhabitants were at peace and lived in harmony, but then everything went wrong. A mysterious discovery pitted people against each other, and fear and cruelty became rife. Eventually the city died, but it isn't as deserted as it seems.
If you're starting to feel like you've stumbled into a review for the wrong game, you would be forgiven. Not only does the premise of Eden sound like a certain underwater setting from Irrational Games, it looks like it too. Constant reminders of a more peaceful life are hastily covered with more extreme propaganda, buildings and decor are falling to pieces, things rarely work properly anymore and the place is deserted, but there's still a menacing atmosphere where you constantly feel like you're being watched. When coupled with a few jump scares, it's a feeling that has never really been present in an Artifex Mundi title before, but it's extremely befitting of the environment that the developer has depicted.
Welcome to Rapture... no, wait...
As far as gameplay goes, the hidden object mini-games continue to play a major part in the title. There's a shift back towards word lists with the occasional small fractured object game instead, the latter of which makes a joke of the achievement for completing a scene in less than 60 seconds. As usual, the scenes are well designed and not too cluttered, meaning that most objects are easy to find. In other positive news, the issues with registering found objects that were prevalent throughout Eventide 2: Sorcerer's Mirror
are not so bad here, although the hit boxes for some items do remain frustratingly specific and marginally too small.
There is also the usual range of logic puzzles to accompany the hidden object games and, like those, there's nothing new here. Replayability is instead added through domino games that provide an alternative to the hidden object scenes if you start to tire of them. Players must create a domino chain that covers at least one square on every one of the highlighted tiles, one for each of the objects that you were supposed to locate in the scene. These are by far the most difficult puzzles in the game, not helped by the lack of ability to reset the puzzle if you make a wrong move. Make too many wrong moves and the puzzle becomes impossible to complete, meaning that you'll need to go back to the hidden object scene if you're to finish the task at hand.
That diver had a worrying ability to horde things
The story takes place on a map that gradually grows larger as players discover more locations. Each of these locations remains open for nearly the entirety of the game once they are discovered, unless a certain story plot point requires them to be temporarily inaccessible. Many of these locations are used multiple times throughout the story, including hidden object scenes that come back to life. The story takes 3-4 hours to complete but a lot of this is backtracking thanks to the complete lack of a fast travel option and the need to cross the map to complete a puzzle. The lift in particular became a bit of a bane. It's also a shame that they've decided to start recycling character assets. He may well have a different name and role, but the main antagonist of Enigmatis: The Ghosts of Maple Creek
is back. I'm also fairly certain that Robert Marceau has been seen somewhere before.
Upon completion of the main story, players will unlock a bonus chapter that tells of the events that preceded it. While the main game hints at the failed society of Eden, the bonus chapter explains explicitly what went wrong and fills in many of the gaps that can be found in the story. The chapter will add an extra 30-40 minutes to your play time and offers more of the same gameplay and characters, but it does present a whole new selection of locations and is well worth a play. You'll need to do this anyway if you want all of the game's achievements.
You'll freeze to death if you don't find a way out soon
Speaking of the achievements, there are six unmissable story related achievements and another for completing the game. There's also one for completing the bonus chapter, and the rest follow the usual formula: play on Expert difficulty, don't skip any of the mini games, don't use any hints in the hidden object scenes and complete all three types of puzzle quickly. You'll need two playthroughs of the game to get the completion, one for completing all of the hidden object scenes and the other for completing the domino games, but at least this time you don't have to keep an eye out for collectibles, because there aren't any.
When entering the world of Abyss: The Wraiths of Eden
, players would be forgiven for thinking they'd stumbled into a different game. Despite its similarities to the world of Rapture, the city of Eden provides an extremely fitting and menacing backdrop to the story told by Artifex Mundi, although there is some recycled character assets. The standard hidden object and logic puzzle gameplay performs as it should and will provide a handful of hours of entertainment for those who enjoy a casual evening of gaming. Meanwhile, the domino games provide a great alternative to those who are tiring of hidden object games, even if the lack of reset button makes them unnecessarily challenging. The overall result is another solid effort that will keep new and returning players entertained yet again, even if some know exactly what to expect by now.
- Simple and accessible gameplay
- Great atmosphere and engaging environment
- Domino games provide challenging alternative
- A lot of backtracking because of no fast travel
- Recycled character assets
The reviewer spent six hours pretending she was in Rapture whilst fighting demons again. She also learned what a sea rod was on her journey to get all 20 of the game's achievements. An Xbox One copy of the game was provided by the ID@Xbox team for the purpose of this review.