Gamebytes and Bots
Gamebytes and Bots
GAMEBYTES AND BOTS
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Nightmares From The Deep
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Enigmatis

ARTFEX MUNDI: Various
DEVELOPER: Artifex Mundi
GENRE: Hogs, Hopas
MODES: Single-player
STEAM RATING: Very Positive

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ARTFEX MUNDI: Various
DEVELOPER: Artifex Mundi
GENRE: Hogs, Hopas
MODES: Single-player
STEAM RATING: Very Positive

ARTIFEX MUNDI HOPAs
REVIEW: Played Sept 2015 - Feb 2016
ARTIFEX MUNDI HOPAs
REVIEW: Played Sept 2015 - Feb 2016

I think all gamers go through periods of game fatigue when nothing appeals in the genres you normally play or you just get plain tired of having to fix every new game you start. This happened to me in September of last year where I turned to something different and discovered a couple of new genres for me. Sometimes I purchase a game for the sake of offering a little variery on the site and after some cursory research and determining that a group of hidden object games developed and published by Artifex Mundi were well-received, I bought a bundle from Indie Gala, which was promptly relegated to my backlog. However, sometime later, due to time constraints on my part, I was looking for something that could be played in a short amount of time and these fit the bill perfectly. I had been labouring under the impression that this genre was just a point-and-click where you go pixel hunting for hidden stuff, but I was wrong. Hidden Object Games (HOGs) are a sort of point-and-click and you do search for hidden objects, but they're not point-and-click in the traditional sense. So, I was very pleasantly surprised to find I enjoyed them so much and have now added Hogs to the list of genres I like.

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For those of you that might not know, HOGs and HOPAs are different from traditional point-and-click games as they are primarily built around puzzle solving and you never see your character except perhaps in a cut-scene. There is no character movement except to one-click into another area and no tedious walking through endless screens of nothingness. The hidden object tag comes from the mechanic of being given a list of items to find amongst a screen of all kinds of other objects. Once you have found them all, you will receive one item for your inventory which can be used to solve a different puzzle. The best of the HOGs and HOPAs these days offer a story, great graphics and many other types of puzzles as well. These games also have quick downloads and saves at exactly the point you decide to quit, making them great for short and mostly problem-free gaming sessions.

Because the entire HOG and HOPA genre pretty much utilizes the same methods and features, I decided not to do a full review of each game, but instead break them down by developer. My criteria for rating them from good to bad is story, graphics, intuitive puzzles, bonus content, and how well the game instructs you on the actual mechanics it requires to solve the puzzles.

The features that are common to most of Artifex Mundi games are good artwork, good story, widescreen support, difficulty modes, a help section, a hint button, ingame maps, a journal/diary, a skip button, achievements, collectibles, fast travel and a female protagonist. The following are the ones I've played. A rating of falls somewhere in the middle. It's neither really good nor really bad.

The quality of these three games is why Artifex Mundi gets such a good reputation. They include all of the features,
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Nightmares From The Deep
Three Game Series
and is one of Artifex Mundi's best for current generation Hopas. It's a must play if you're a fan of this genre. All three games follow the same heroine and continue the same basic story line about pirates. If you want to try this genre out, these would be a good place to start and would give you a pretty good meter by which to judge other HOG and HOPA games.
The puzzles are a bit challenging, the environments interesting, and the characters are a little bit more developed for this type of game.
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Abyss
The Wraiths of Eden
It also includes some cinematic cut scenes which add more immersion. You can choose between doing hidden object puzzles or a mini game of dominoes, and there is a bonus chapter upon completion. The voice acting is pretty cheesy though, with the dialogue sounding forced. Although it includes most of the bells and whistles, there is no fast travel.
This has all the features including a bonus chapter and mini dominoes as an alternative to HO puzzles. There are two types of collectibles,
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Grim Legends
Forsaken Bride
one of which is called illusive objects. These fade in and out of the screen and are not always present at the time you are there, so illusive is very apt. You have a Kitty helper that is pretty darn cute, but is not utilized for puzzles very often, which was a bit of a missed opportunity. As usual the graphics are good, but the storyline is fairly shallow.
The second of the Grim Legends series also has all the features plus a bonus chapter that's pretty meh.
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Grim Legends 2
Song Of The Dark Swan
However, the graphics are quite naive and the puzzle instructions are not great. It features some animal helpers as well. There seems to be a lot of dead bodies in this game. Maybe that's why it's called "grim". It's a bit of a disappointment, really, for a fairly recent game. The third of the series, Grim Legends 3: The Dark City, was released in June 2016 and is a lot more innovative.
This is another series that is a fan favorite. Although, The Ghosts of Maple Creek is an older game, the puzzles
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Enigmatis 1 & 2
mainly HO screens, and the graphics not as modern as the second game, it does feature a detective mechanic and is a must play for story continuity. In the sequel, Ravenwood, the graphics are much improved and the game plays more like the Nightmares series while retaining its detective mode. Enigmatis 3 was released in Aug 2016 to very good reviews.
Although this game looks good, and has many of the features of the latest games, it had no widescreen support,
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Clockwork Tales
Of Glass and Ink
no mini-game and uses too many repeats of the same types of puzzles you've seen before. It also features a helper in the form of a mechanical bird, which is not nearly as cute as kitty in Grim Legends. The bonus chapter is also not up to par. I may be the dissenting voice, but I felt a little let down by this offering and didn't think it was of the same overall quality I had come to expect.
Time Mysteries: Inheritance is a classic example of be careful what you ask for. Fans bugged Artifex for this,
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Time Mysteries 1 & 2
but they should have left it on the shelf. It's awful. Ancient Spectres is much better, but still only gets 3 stars. It derives its name from the ability to use a portable time machine. However, it relies heavily on HO puzzles with only a smattering of other types. Towards the end, all you do is travel from one HOP to the next with no story in between. It's an earlier work and the graphics are not great.
This is rather an odd offering where the heroine doesn't really seem to fit the bizarre theme - a police detective embracing the paranormal.
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Dark Arcana
The Carnival
The game does have all of the features, including a bonus chapter, and includes a helper in the form of a monkey. The graphics look a bit dated, and some HOPs are repeated and are generally too easy. You may want to up the difficulty level. The game is also fairly short. Nevertheless, it has a certain fascination due to the strange environments.

Game Issues Experienced

None with one exception in Time Mysteries 2 where constructing the portal time machine was a bit buggy.

NOTE: For the vast majority of PC games, many digital distributors will offer "Online" CD keys that can be added to your Steam Library
WHERE YOU CAN PURCHASE
ARTIFEX MUNDI GAMES
Occasionally games will turn up in bundles on charity bundle sites
Other games in series:
GAME SPECS & REQS
  • Genre: Adventure, Hidden Object
  • Developer(s): Artifex Mundi
  • Publisher(s): Artifex Mundi
  • Platforms: Microsoft Windows, other
  • Release: 2012 - 2014
  • Mode(s): Single-player
  • Media: Download,
  • DLC Available: No
  • OS: Windows XP, Vista, 7, 8 & 10
  • CPU: Pentium 1.5 GHz
  • RAM: 512 MB
  • Hard Drive: 1GB free space
  • Video: DirectX compatible
  • Sound: DirectX compatible
  • Shader Model:
  • Input for PC: Keyboard & Mouse
  • DRM: Steam or None
NOTE: Minimum requirements are those officially published at the time of the game's release.
AROUND THE WEB
Official Site - Artifex Mundi   Support
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Big Fish
Steam Community
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GameSpot
metacritic
Achievements: Yes
Cheats: Artifex Mundi
Tweaks: None
Patches: Steam Auto Update
CAN I RUN IT?
To indicate what kind of performance you may get, compare your specs to the system this game was played on. You can also try  Can You Run It
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  • Version:  Steam Download
  • OS:  Windows 7 SP1
  • CPU:  Intel Core i5-3570K 3.40GHz
  • Ram:  8GB
  • Disk Drive:  DVD/CD
  • Video:  ATI Radeon HD 7870 2GB
  • Shader Model:  5
  • DirectX:  11
  • Resolution:  1650 x 1050
  • Input:  Keyboard & Mouse
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Development Note

Considered a leader in this genre, Artifex Mundi has been in the field a long time and although their older games using the older engines may not be quite as good as their more recent games, they do, for the most part, hold to a certain standard. The company is also very active in the Steam game hubs and readily keep in touch with their audience, which is why fans get a little disappointed when they feel some releases are not quite up-to-par with expectations.

Although this Polish studio was founded in 2006, it was formally a part of ZSK Progres, a company founded in 1991 as a software developer and reseller. Artifex Mundi had its start as a new branch actively focusing on game development. They currently develop for many different platforms and have recently moved into the role of a publisher for other developers as well, currently sporting 40 titles in their portfolio and 140 employees.

All of their protagonists to date are female, citing the reasoning behind this is that HOPA gamers are mainly women and so they cater to that market. Personally, I don't think they are doing themselves any favors by boxing themselves in to this perception as just buzzing around the internet indicates that men are playing these types of games as well.

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