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Another round of puzzles and hidden-object games to delve into (with that murder-mystery twist).

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    Enigmatis 2: The Mists of Ravenwood

    Rating: 4.0 – Great

    Another round of puzzles and hidden-object games to delve into (with that murder-mystery twist).

    Developer Artifex Mundi is back again with yet another puzzle adventure for the PlayStation 4! This time we’re going to look at "Enigmatis 2: The Mists of Ravenwood", which promises more of the puzzles and hidden object pictures the series is known for all while continuing the story started in "Enigmatis: The Ghosts of Maple Creek".

    I should note that before you play, this game DOES have a "2" in the title. If you care about story at all (and aren’t just here for the game’s puzzles and hidden object scenes), I HIGHLY RECOMMEND you play the first Enigmatis before this game. Purely for story reasons, of course… to get a better understanding of the two game’s overall story arc.

    In Enigmatis 2, we continue our journey as the female detective of the first game, who learns of missing persons out on the west coast and decides to investigate, hoping the case is related somehow to Maple Creek from the first title. As you can imagine, the detective is soon caught up in the mysterious disappearance of a family near "Ravenwood Heritage Park", left to figure out what exactly is going on.

    The family you meet at the start of the game is a good hook to the mystery here (especially as you get to meet the daughter very early on), providing you something (and someone) to search for. As the story unfolds though, you meet a variety of shady characters. The park employees and owner, a mysterious man moving about and (my favorite) a locked-up inmate in the tunnels under the park who helps you with your investigation. Enigmatis 2 may be a sequel, but it still manages to tell its own tale with new characters all while brilliantly tying into the first game. The ending in particular was fantastic, and leaves the door wide open for an "Enigmatis 3" in the future.

    If you’ve played any of Artifex Mundi’s games in the past, you will be right at home here. The vast majority of the game play consists of finding items throughout Ravenwood and deducing how to use them in the environment to solve puzzles and proceed to new areas. There are also various mini-games (often some sort of logic game or puzzle to solve) and Hidden Object scenes to solve. Fairly standard puzzle game play, honestly, but just the type of game play that puzzle lovers live for.

    Enigmatis 2 carries over the "Evidence Board" from the first game, which helps to set it apart from other games from the developer. As you play you’ll find pieces of evidence pointing to what is happening in Ravenwood or to who the victims / perpetrators may be. You’ll take all of this evidence to your evidence board and need to place it in the correct circles to piece the story together. One change I loved in Enigmatis 2 was the fact that you actually have help here: a nearby prisoner overlooks your board and helps you piece through the evidence logically (the way he looks at the evidence board is well-designed, as you see his eyes reflecting from a nearby saw blade stuck in the evidence board… which reminds me a bit of Hannibal Lecter…). As you play through the game, you will find spheres that help free the prisoner, with the trapped man telling you about the park’s past with each sphere found (as well as giving you items to help you explore further). The developer used the same story-telling method in the "Nightmares from the Deep" games, but it works better here.

    Graphically, Enigmatis 2 is a highlight of the series. With a game that’s focused on environmental exploration (not to mention hidden object puzzles), good graphics are a MUST, and thankfully Enigmatis 2 delivers here. There isn’t much variety to be had in the game’s environments (comprising mostly of park trails, dark tunnels and various houses) but the locations you do visit are extremely detailed. There’s also quite a bit of background animation (wildlife) and animated scenes throughout the game, which is definitely a nice touch.

    The audio in the game is MOSTLY solid. The music that plays is a bit repetitive, but the tune is nice. It reminded me of the "exploration" music you hear while exploring in a horror game: just odd enough to keep you on edge. The voice acting is where the audio becomes "mostly solid": many of the voice actors rarely rise above average here. The older male voice actors are pretty good, but the main female detective seriously needs to show more emotion. Between that and the repetitive tunes, the audio is definitely the weakest link in the game.

    Like many Artifex Mundi titles, beating the game will unlock a bonus chapter that acts as a prequel, giving you another couple hours of game play (overall, you’re looking at 10-12 hours here without a guide). The game also has two forms of collectibles you can search for as you play (butterflies and illusive objects), as well as two difficulty modes. You also are able to choose between "Hidden Object" puzzles throughout the game OR a "Match Two" puzzle, giving the game a slight amount of re-playability, especially if you plan to go after all of the game’s trophies (which will require two play-throughs). For what it’s worth, this game is also EXCELLENT to play through with kids or family (the more eyes the better for hidden object games!).

    Overall: 8/10

    I’ve played SEVEN of these Artifex Mundi games at this point (although I haven’t reviewed all of them…) and I have to say: Enigmatis 2 is definitely my favorite out of all of them. The graphics are excellent and the game play is just as good as the other titles, but it’s the story that really shines here. If you’re a fan of the puzzle genre (and ideally have played the first Enigmatis game…), then Enigmatis 2 is very easy to recommend.

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