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Time to solve puzzles under the sea!

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    Abyss: The Wraiths of Eden

    Rating: 3.5 – Good

    Time to solve puzzles under the sea!

    Developer Artifex Mundi is back with yet another "Hidden Object" game, continuing their trend of porting over their PC titles to the PlayStation 4. Hey, I’m a big trophy hunter fan though, so I’m not complaining at all! Honestly, if you’ve played any of this developer’s titles before, you know exactly what to expect here (and likely already know what you’re getting into here), but just in case you aren’t let’s go over exactly what you can expect out of "Abyss: The Wraiths of Eden".

    In Abyss: The Wraiths of Eden you take on the role of a woman (Artifex Mundi knows their audience) who also happens to be a deep-sea salvager (scuba diver). While out on a salvage trip in the ocean, she loses contact with her fiance, which prompts her to go look for him as she fears for the worst. This is how you discover the submerged city of Eden, and try to uncover what went wrong here while you search for your fiance…

    Like many of these "Hidden Object" games, the story here is… well, not going to win any awards anytime soon. It’s got a pretty standard set-up (search for lost loved one), but no depth or weight behind it (of course). The more interesting story here is the setting. I’ll be frank: Eden is pretty much a ripped-off "Bioshock" (Artifex Mundi pretty much used the entire idea behind Bioshock when they came up with the setting behind this game). Still, I’ve always found ruined dystopia’s fairly interesting, and while Eden is definitely no Bioshock it does tell that tale. All in all, the story here is very standard and not a highlight or a low-light.

    OK, onto the reason you are likely here: the game play. Wraiths of Eden is an adventure / "Hidden Object" game. This means that for half of the game you will be exploring environments and picking up key items, which you’ll need to use (often in other areas) to reach new areas or progress the story. Very logic-based, like most old-school adventure games. The other big draw here is the "Hidden Object" games, which are also exactly what they sound like. Full-screen pieces of artwork that are chock-full of items, with a list of objects on the bottom part of the screen that you have to find. I have to admit, I’ve always liked these hidden object puzzles, as they are rather relaxing and finding things can definitely be fun (plus, I often have my wife or kids helping and this type of game play is just perfect for that). The game also has quite a few mini-games that are mainly just more logic puzzles, but provide nice breaks between game play.

    If for some reason you aren’t a fan of hidden object games (you’re in the wrong place if that’s the case…), you can also skip them and play a game of dominoes, where the objective is to reach certain spots on the board using the tiles you are given. You’ll need to do both to platinum the game, but it does provide some measure of choice. All in all, the game play here is solid and provides a nice (casual) ride through the story, while challenging your logic (and vision) every now and again.

    One of the most important things about a game like this is definitely its graphics. Half of the game is based on finding items in a (often slightly animated) still-scene after all. Thankfully, Abyss looks pretty darn good overall. The game gets the "ruined dystopia" looks spot-on and the lighting throughout the game is well done as well (which is very important given that you are under water). While the game’s static scenes and environments are fantastic, it’s animations are… well, they are OK. They’re solid for sure, but compared to other "current-gen" games on the PlayStation 4 they just look rather dated by comparison (I suppose that is the studio’s difference in technology and perhaps time invested). Still, beautiful environments and static scenes rule the day here.

    Like many other games in the series, the audio here is… eh, it’s solid. Solid, but not really anything special. The voice acting here is a bit better than other games in the series, but doesn’t rise above "passable" by any means, and the same can be said for the music in the game (which is mostly ambient tracks to provide some easy-listening to while you explore). Still, there’s nothing here that’s particularly memorable.

    We’ve mentioned the option to switch between Hidden Object puzzles and dominoes, and that (combined with a platinum trophy list) is the biggest re-playability factor here, as it requires you to play through the game twice if you want all of the trophies. That’s not a lot to ask though, as the second play-through will be much shorter, as you know what to do, and Abyss isn’t that long as it is (clocking in around 6-7 hours on a first play-through).

    Still, there’s several other things we should mention, For starters, there’s two difficulties to choose from, as well as a good quest log and hint system to use if you’re ever stuck (a welcome addition to this type of game, as missing one item anywhere can ruin game flow and lead to aggravating searching). There’s also a "Bonus Chapter" that you’ll get once you beat the game, which serves to tie up the story a bit more and just overall gives you more of the main game in general (and that’s always a good thing).

    Overall: 7/10

    In the end, if you enjoy this genre of gaming, Abyss: Wraiths of Eden will be right up your alley. It doesn’t have a classic story by any means, but solid adventure and hidden-object game play combined with great visuals make this a fun ride nevertheless. Trophy hunters will also enjoy this title as well for the casual difficulty. Yet another solid title to the genre from Artifex Mundi (even if it didn’t get a sequel…). Have fun and keep playing!

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