Artifex Mundi is back after a short break with another one of their amazing HoGs (Hidden Object Games) on the PS4, this time it’s the final entry in a really interesting series. This is the third, and final game in the Enigmatis series which has followed our protagonist as she tracks down the evil demonic preacher and tries to put an end to all of his plans. I love Artifex Mundi and their art style and gameplay, they always go down the ‘almost realistic but very fantastical’ route, rather than the realistic and creepy route we saw True Fear take.
The question is, was this final entry a good game, or was it just another quick and easy platinum with no other redeeming factors? Let’s take a look – we also need to see if the game is worth the price increase (all Artifex Mundi titles have increased to £11.99).
If you have played the previous games in this Enigmatis series then you will know the journey you have taken as the protagonist from Maple Creek and through Ravenwood; however, the games are all self-contained so if you choose to jump in here, at the conclusion, you won’t miss out on anything as prior knowledge isn’t required and there are snippets of information you find throughout the game in relation to the other games.
The gist of the story so far is that there is an evil preacher who has escaped both our protagonists and her colleagues grasp twice before as we have thwarted his plans to summon or resurrect evil demon lords. However, the preacher is now the last Reaper left on Earth, and just like the Highlander, when there is only one left then they gain immense power and abilities which isn’t possible when sharing the world with another. This power is the ability to resurrect Asmodai, who is the master of all demons!
Enigmatis 3: The Shadow of Karkhala begins back in Maple Creek (after a rather exciting introduction), as we investigate a creepy old house for clues on where the preacher may have gone. After a few puzzles and case-note arranging, we uncover the location and set out on our journey which leads us back to the opening climatic moment. Enigmatis 3: The Shadow of Karkhala takes us to the mountains of Tibet as we face off against the preacher one more time and bring this great series to an end once and for all.
As with all Artifex Mundi titles though, things won’t be as simple as it all seems – there will be twists, excitement, secrets, and adventure as you meet new people, uncover new information, and venture across many areas. The question is, does Enigmatis 3: The Shadow of Karkhala match or better the quality of the brilliant Enigmatis 2: The Mists of Ravenwood? Let’s find out…
Mechanics-wise, if you’ve played one Artifex Mundi title then you have played them all. I have reviewed two of them so far: Abyss: The Wraiths of Eden and Eventide 2: The Sorcerers Mirror – so I’ll only briefly explain the mechanics as they are all the same. You control a rather big circle reticule as you move it around to interact with things. You can talk to people, engage in puzzles, Hidden Object Puzzles, or Matching Games, and you can also use it to navigate the map/locations.
Unlike True Fear, Artifex Mundi has perfected this control method as it’s super responsive, everything works perfectly, it’s nice and simple, and it’s one of those”if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it” things. You also have the option to use a map for fast travel which is always handy as it also tells you which areas still have something left to do in them, and you can use a hint system to help you out if you’re stuck – I always avoid the hints though as there are usually trophies around not using any of them, so make sure you don’t accidentally press the button if you’re going for the platinum.
Other than the rather engaging, interesting and completely satisfying final story for the series, the games main focus is on its puzzles, which come in four varieties:
Hidden Object Puzzles:
As above, if you’ve played one of these games before then you know what these are! You have a beautifully drawn out image with hidden objects in it – all hidden in plain sight. The game will either give you an image of things to find or list things out in words at the bottom of the screen. It’s your job to look at the image and find all of the items. These were all simple enough but it does fall into the confusing problem, just like all HoGs do sometimes – it will sometimes list items which you may have no idea what they are (For example a ‘Mandala’ in the above puzzle); however, with no visual clues, all you can do is click everything and hope for the best!
I found that this game has a lot more of the multi-layered HoGs though – basically, you will be on a scene as above, but you will see a lot of ‘yellow’ coloured words. Yellow means you have to do something before you can get that item, sometimes it will just be to open a cupboard or pick up a key in the scene and open a drawer, other times it will be combining a few items on the screen until you create the item it is looking for. I like these multi-layered ones as it adds more to the puzzle and gets you to think more about what you could use together to create certain things.
Matching Game Puzzles:
If you don’t want to do the above then you can press the D-pad and pick to do a matching game instead – this is a simple ‘find the pairs’ game and you only have to complete one of these in under three minutes for the only trophy it has with it. Usually, you get a ‘complete all the matching games’ trophy, but this time they have made it a lot easier to obtain. There is a trophy for completing all of the HoGs though, so you are best doing your first run with HoGs then doing another playthrough and picking the Matching Game instead.
Artifex Mundi has done a good job with these puzzles, there isn’t as many as there is in True Fear but there is enough to keep you busy as you work through the 5-6 hour story. These are literal puzzles, so moving pieces around a board in order to unlock a door, completing a painting game, a Bioshock water flow puzzle etc… None of them was too difficult and you get a trophy for completing all of them without skipping (the hint button becomes skip on the puzzles).
These are akin to old-school inventory puzzles. Throughout your adventure, the protagonist will pick up seemingly random items which will come in use later on when you are trying to progress. This mechanic always kind of annoys me in adventure games – if you go into a room full of interesting artefacts and items, why would you pick out and take the one thing you ‘may’ need later which then becomes an important item later on? This game does change it a little – it has you being able to see and interact with items, but she won’t pick them up until you have read a note or recipe which calls for you to need it. For me, that’s the right way to go about it as you know you have seen the item before as you were exploring, yet you can only get it when your character has knowledge that she needs it.
Also, as customary with Artifex Mundi titles, there are a tonne of collectables to find as you play – these are really hard to spot if you aren’t using a guide! There are white feathers to look out for, some flowers, and alternate dimension viewpoints. The latter is the interesting one – every now and again you will see the world shifting and looking strange, like a skeleton face in the water or a dark cloud in a sunny sky – these are anomalies which you can click and collect. Collecting all of the these serves no purpose other than PSN trophies, but you will have to replay the game if you miss any.
Enigmatis 3: The Shadow of Karkhala also contains a bonus chapter once you complete the game and once again it is a prequel chapter. I remember how these used to be limited to the collector’s edition version of the game on PC so I’m glad they include these as it helps give more backstory to the game. I won’t go into the story as it basically ruins the whole of the main game, but you play as a character in the events leading up to the beginning of the main game – not the main protagonist, but another character who was there when the preacher first struck. I found this bonus chapter to be really entertaining and it answered a lot of the WTF moments I had when playing the main game.
Graphically, Enigmatis 3: The Shadow of Karkhala is up there with the best looking titles from Artifex Mundi. The environments are well drawn and the animation of the characters appear to be much higher quality than some of the earlier titles we have seen. When you go into buildings and enter the HoGs, the game gets really colourful and bright with a great palette right in your face, but the outside environments when you are on the mountains are white and colourless due to the snow as opposed to fantastical games like Eventide which are set in wooded areas.
The voice acting is once again very good with no clear drops in quality. It’s great having a game like this with full voice acting and it being pleasing to listen too as the story is what holds the whole game together and anything less would distract you from it.
Enigmatis 3: The Shadow of Karkhala is a great game and delivers a satisfying conclusion to the trilogy. You can jump into the story at this point and not miss out on anything but I do recommend you play the first two if you wish to have the full backstory. The puzzles are varied, the HoGs are plentiful and the environments puzzles will have you thinking – seriously, what more could you ask for from a casual Hidden Object Game? That being said, the games have all increased in price to £11.99 so it’s up to you to decide if they are still worth it – an easy platinum mixed with an entertaining story with replayability if you miss the collectables, I would personally say “yes”.
Enigmatis 3: The Shadow of Karkhala£11.99
- Highly detailed environments
- Great story with a thrilling final conclusion
- Bonus episode which explains a lot of things
- Plenty of puzzles and things to do
- Music and voice quality is great
- Some of the environmental puzzles aren't too obvious (not really a flaw)
- Some HoG sections name items to find but it's unclear what they are
- I encountered a bug where if you fill up a pan to make medicine in the wrong order then you can't proceed without restarting
- only one auto-saved slot - so you can't re-load if things go wrong.