Artifex Mundi is starting to become a regular fixture in the release calendar. Nearly 18 months after the release of The Siren's Call
, and over two years since the trilogy began with The Cursed Heart
, Nightmares from the Deep 3: Davy Jones
finally concludes the trilogy on the Xbox One. It's also the 14th casual point and click title that the publisher has released in just two and a half years. You'd be forgiven for expecting more of the same, and you certainly wouldn't be far wrong, but the conclusion of the trilogy is far from the worst of the bunch and is still worth a play.
Having escaped from legendary pirate Davy Jones' clutches twice, museum custodian Sara Black feels like she has gathered enough evidence to prove that he and his mythical treasure are very real. At the museum, she hosts a press conference to present the evidence, but Davy Jones is none too pleased about this. His ship appears out at sea, and he and his crew storm the museum to kidnap Sara and her hapless daughter Corey. The pair tries to escape his ship but is caught, and their punishment is to walk the plank. In a frantic bid to save her mother, Corey makes a pact with Jones so that he owns her soul. Can Sara save her daughter by finding a way to cancel the pact?
Despite being the last episode in the trilogy, it is perfectly possible to play through the game without knowing any of the plot or history from the previous two, as the story stands on its own remarkably well. It isn't the most comprehensive story, but then the emphasis in Artifex Mundi titles has always been the gameplay. In that regard, the publisher's typical hidden object gameplay is front and foremost. The game includes all three types of these puzzles — standard hidden object, fragmented objects and those where found objects have to be used to solve puzzles. The only issue with these games is that the need for precise clicking has made an unwelcome return, and it can be extremely frustrating clicking on an object ten times just to find the correct position of the far too small hitbox.
While it looks tasty, that food won't be of much use against a bunch of skeletons.
If you're not looking for hidden objects, the chances are that you'll need to solve one of the many mini-games that are spread throughout the story. As usual, there is nothing complicated and you're unlikely to need the skip button too often. There are some puzzles never seen before in these games, the most notable of which is a seemingly luck-based board game, although this is likely scripted not to allow failure as we succeeded at beating our opponent every time. Speaking of board games, Mahjong returns as the series' alternative to hidden object titles. Unfortunately, the console controls are still clumsy. Switching between tiles with the joystick isn't very precise, and the issue is compounded further by the game's frequent refusal to recognise unmatched tiles that are sitting at the edges of the board. Failure is also impossible here thanks to tiles automatically being rearranged without penalty when no turns are available.
Seen in the previous two games in the trilogy, the captain's cursed coins are missing from Davy Jones
, but they've instead been replaced with doubloons that serve more purpose. Throughout the game can be found guardian statues that are brought back to life with one doubloon. Not only do these tell the backstory of Davy Jones and how he came to be as villainous as he is, they also give players rewards after they've told their story. These rewards are often needed to access new areas or solve puzzles, meaning that it's impossible to get too far through the game without activating them. Players can't hoard the tokens to use at the very end of the game like they could before.
The dog may look pitiful, but it's the guardian under the waterfall that has the most interesting part to play.
The fairly linear playable map area grows as players progress through the game and it remains completely accessible at all times. There is the ability to fast travel, but it seems pointless when few scenes are reused. Only a handful of scenes are active at any one time, meaning that backtracking to your target location is a fairly painless process. In fact, if you ever cluelessly revisit scenes trying to work out your next move, it will likely be in Expert mode when trying to work out which of the hidden object scenes has reactivated, seeing as Expert mode doesn't mark the map when there is an action that can be completed.
As well as the two difficulty levels (Normal and Expert) and the alternative activity to hidden object games, Artifex Mundi has extended the life of the game by offering a bonus chapter that continues from where the main game ends. With no achievement offered for completion of the bonus chapter, most players will likely overlook this, but that would be a mistake. Not only does the chapter offer several new locations, most notably it gives players the proper and more satisfying conclusion to the Nightmares from the Deep
story arc, especially as the ending to the main game makes it extremely obvious that there is more to come.
If you don't play the bonus chapter, you'll miss this.
Speaking of achievements, the list is both surprising and unsurprising for this title as there is an odd distribution of achievements. The game's 30 unlocks include the usual story related achievements, one for completing the game in Expert mode, and the usual spread for completing the hidden object games in certain ways. What is different (aside from nothing for the bonus chapter) is that there are only a couple of achievements for completing the mini-games — without skipping no less — and only one achievement for the mahjong alternative activity, meaning that only a very short partial second playthrough is needed because these don't unlock in the bonus chapter. Unfortunately, there are a total of eight achievements for the game's plentiful four types of collectibles. They're easy enough to spot, but the task will be made much easier with a guide.
SummaryNightmares from the Deep 3: Davy Jones
is the final episode of the trilogy on Xbox One and brings the story of museum custodian Sara Black to its conclusion, even if the true ending is hidden away in the optional bonus chapter. Artifex Mundi fans will know exactly what to expect with the usual mix of hidden object games, albeit with slightly obnoxious hit detection, and a selection of simple mini-games. There is even the welcome return of an alternative to the hidden object games, although the mahjong controls are still clumsy on console. All in all, this title is a satisfactory end to the Nightmares from the Deep
story arc. While not the best of the Artifex Mundi titles, especially with its minor gameplay issues, it is far from the worst of the bunch and is still worth a play.
- Satisfying conclusion to the trilogy
- Gameplay still holds up
- Can be enjoyed by both casual and serious gamers
- Mahjong puzzles are welcome alternative to hidden objects
- Mahjong controls are clumsy
- Hidden object hit detection can be too specific
The reviewer spent 7 hours thwarting Davy Jones, playing through to the true conclusion of the game and cursing the mahjong controls. She earned all 30 of the game's achievements in the process. An Xbox One version of the title was provided by the ID@Xbox team for the purpose of this review.