November 19, 2019 at 3:02 PM #960
Nightmares from the Deep 2: The Siren’s Call
Rating: 3.5 – Good
The sea is calling you back…
With a name like Nightmares from the Deep 2: The Siren’s Call, you would expect this game to be a sequel, right? Of course! Truth be told, this is just one in a long line of puzzle games from developer Artifex Mundi that have been steadily appearing on the PlayStation 4. Is this a siren’s call that should lure you in or be avoided all together?
While there is an original Nightmares from the Deep game, it’s story is only loosely tied to the title, which means it is safe to pick up and play out of order. You reprise the role of the museum curator from the first game whose adventures are summed up at the start of the sequel. You’ve become well-known for dealing with the mysteries of the sea at this point, and one quiet night a visitor with a mysterious package. Opening it reveals a golden kraken statue and the moment is spoiled by an attack from…fish people. The stranger defends you, but the statue is stolen and you fall unconscious. The player character wakes up en route to a mysterious island as the stranger begs you to help his town and save "Calliope".
The story here is fairly engaging, focusing on what has happened to this town and why there are fish people act as antagonists. There’s a lot of un-answered questions that you’ll uncover over time but don’t get me wrong: this isn’t a game you play for its epic story. I did enjoy the re-occurring themes between this game and the first one (terrors from the sea, Davy Jones, etc…) and the story does a good job tying the game’s puzzles together, but it is far from the main draw here…
Much like the other games in the series though, the puzzles ARE the main draw. These games are commonly called "Hidden Picture" as quite a few of the puzzles involve combing through a scene and find hidden items. There’s a LOT of other types of puzzles such as challenging logic puzzles and environmental puzzles (which involves finding items and figuring out where and how to use them) that open up new areas. These types of puzzles have a tendency to be frustrating, as any puzzle gamer may know. All it takes is one obscure "solution" to cause hours of heartache. Thankfully though, the game has a hint system that will help you find items and show you where to go.
There are two difficulty modes in the game, Normal and Expert, which vary how much help you’ll receive. Normal Mode offers an occasional sparkling that shows you where you need to go–like an free, automatic hint. The game also has a map system that lets you fast-travel between scenes and identifies particular actions Very handy indeed! It’s worth noting that these systems showed up in previous titles which shows that the developer goes out of their way to make sure you can’t get stuck.
One thing that did change was the quality of the game’s graphics. Granted, most of the graphics in this type of game are static scenes, but you can tell right away (if you’ve been playing these Artifex Mundi games anyways) that the animations have gotten a boost. This isn’t The Witcher 3 or Horizon Zero Dawn, granted, but the animations are solid and the artwork is undeniably well done. Even many of the static scenes come with touches of animation and general flair here and there.
I’ve found other titles in this series to be a bit… spotty with its audio, particularly with the voice acting. While its solid in this game, it still isn’t anything special. The music itself is well done, consisting mostly of ambient, easy-listening tracks. Interestingly enough, there’s a few tracks that have returned from the first game. Even after two games of listening to nearly the same music, I can’t quite remember any of it. Most easy-listening music isn’t exactly memorable, after all.
Like the other games in the series, Nightmares from the Deep 2 will take you around 10-12 hours to complete so you can get a couple of good afternoons out of it if you wish. Beating the game also unlocks a "Bonus Chapter" that serves as an epilogue that provides more the same puzzles to enjoy (what’s not to like?). The trophy list of the game features a Platinum but does require at least two playthroughs to reach it. Much like other games in the series, this is because instead of solving the "Hidden Picture" puzzles, there is an option to switching them out for Mahjong games. A nice change of pace, for sure, and it does gives trophy hunters a reason for playing through it all again.
If you happen to enjoy puzzle and logic games, it’s very easy to recommend Nightmares from the Deep 2: The Siren’s Call. With its variety of puzzles all strewn along a solid (but not spectacular) story and combined with a helpful hint and navigation system, a puzzle fan is virtually guaranteed hours of entertainment here. As it turns out, if you’re a puzzle enthusiast, perhaps you should heed this Siren’s Call…
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