Wednesday, 25 May 2016

Enigmatis: The Ghosts of Maple Creek (Xbox One) - Review

Enigmatis is available now on the Xbox One and is priced at £7.99.

Hidden Object games are a guilty pleasure for me and, I imagine, many others and I have reviewed each of the previous Artifex Mundi offerings on Xbox One (here and here). Whilst they both sated my guilty pleasure, neither of them were given a great score. I found the stories to be lacking slightly and graphically the games are unimpressive to say the least. So how does Enigmatis: The Ghosts of Maple Creek compare?

Enigmatis follows a woman who finds herself in Maple Creek. She has no idea why she is there, so she sets out to investigate. The story is much better than either of the previous Artifex Mundi games and it ties in with the hidden-object side of Artifex Mundi's games much better. When I first reviewed an Artifex Mundi game on the Xbox One I struggled to think of anyone to recommend the game to, it just seemed like something a "Facebook Gamer" would play. Then I reviewed their next release and found myself enjoying it, so much so that I started looking forward to the next press release. I launched Enigmatis the minute it had downloaded and finished it in a couple of sittings. I think this is their 'pull', they're extremely simplistic, just point at what you want to investigate and click. They don't take long to complete either, even on hard mode, so they're a perfect way to kill a little time before big blockbuster releases.

The thing that makes Eningmatis stand out though was the evidence wall. As you make your way through Maple Creek you discover things about the different places you visit and the people you meet, and you put the scraps of paper on your hotel room wall to help you work out what is going on in Maple Creek. It is pretty cool to see that filling up, with you adding information to the correct sections to get to the bottom of the mystery.

The other puzzles in this game were great too, they're not so challenging that you end up turning to Google in despair, they posed enough of a challenge that you don't feel like you're breezing through the game too fast. The hidden object sections were fantastic, items were extremely well concealed or camouflaged against the background, making it very hard to get the achievement for spotting a few items in a matter of seconds.

If you have enjoyed either of the previous Artifex Mundi offerings then you should definitely pick this one up. In my opinion it has taken the best bits of the previous games and expanded them, making this one the best by far. I enjoyed every minute of this one, though after spending four hours in one go on it I did feel a little ashamed that I hadn't sunk that time into a bigger title. But, hey, I was having fun. Leave me alone.

9/10 BUY IT!
A code was provided for the purpose of this review. 

Wednesday, 18 May 2016

Adam's Venture: Origins (Xbox One) - Review

Adam's Venture: Origins is available now on Xbox One and is priced at £39.99.

Adam's Venture: Origins follows a guy called Adam Venture. No, really. The 'puns' surrounding this name are even worse. Anyway, we end up on a little adventure with him and Evelyn, his father's assistant.

The game at first glance looks really quite nice, but look too closely at any of it and it looks incredibly dated. There are a lot of rough edges in this game, a LOT of things are blurred and I couldn't really tell if this was intentional or not at first. The more I played the more I realised it definitely was not intentional. I had a lot of problems with graphical bugs as well, the worst one being when you have to avoid being spotted by some spotlights. I'll share the images in my Twitter after posting this review so you can see for yourself, but massive chunks of the environment went black, like the textures hadn't loaded. This made th spotlight impossible to see. I got caught a few times before it fixed itself.

The music in this game deserves a special mention, it was honestly one of my favourite things about this game. It has a really lovely soundtrack, that I turned up so it would drown out some of the awful, hammy voice acting. It is terrible. The puzzles in this game are a nice mix of fun and challenging. There are some really simple ones, but some of them will have you trying to work them out for quite awhile. It reminded me of the old Broken Sword games in some ways. I think I expected Adam;s Venture to be more of an adventure game, but I definitely felt more like I was playing a point-and-click game, and in truth, these moments were the best in the game. Some of the 'adventure' moments were just laughable. When you first get into a mine cart a little box pops up telling you that it 'isn't for the faint-hearted'. I got all excited, hoping for a few slow-mo moments as you narrowly miss falling off the edge of the track, or quickly dodge a falling rock. Nope. No such luck. Instead you go around a corner and down a slight incline. That is it. I was SO disappointed.

The game is very linear, there is no chance of getting lost here. This was slightly disappointing when you you consider it is supposed to be an action adventure game. There is no real adventure to be had, you just follow the very clear paths set out for you and solve th puzzles along the way.

All that being said though, I did enjoy my time with Adam's Venture: Origins. I can't really tell you why, either. It is in no way a blockbuster and definitely not worth the price tag, which is set lubriciously high for this game in my opinion. It was a nice relaxing game to play and I found myself picking it up over other more 'exciting' games I have. If it's on a good sale its worth picking up, even if just for the achievements.
5/10 TRY IT!
A code was provided for the purpose of this review. 

Tuesday, 10 May 2016

Azkend 2 (Xbox One) - Review

Azkend 2 is available now on the Xbox One and is priced at £6.39.

Now you all know I love Sparkle Unleashed and Sparkle 2 by the guys at 10tons and I still play them both fairly regularly (I will complete them on Nightmare mode!). So when a code for Azkend 2 dropped into my inbox I was super excited to try it out, but how does it compare to 10tons previous Xbox One releases?

Azkend 2 is basically a match-3 game, with the addition of a story. The story isn't all that bad, though the voiceover reminds me a lot of the hidden object games we have seen come to Xbox One by the guys at Artifex Mundi, a little bit cheap and cheesy sounding. A story in a game like this is a little unnecessary in my opinion; I don't pick up a puzzle game if I want to immerse myself in a brilliant story, I pick it up because I have 15 minutes spare and want a quick game, but maybe that's just me. Anyway, because of this I found the story to be more of a distraction from the game than an asset.

There are over 60 match puzzles to make your way through. Along the way they get a lot tougher, but you also acquire various upgrades. They are given to you after you've completed a certain amount of levels and you are asked whether you want to equip it before going into the next level. I do wish there was a way you could see all of your available upgrades here, rather than backing out into the menu screen, I just feel like the game would flow a little better that way.

Overall Azkend 2 offers a fairly entertaining challenge, but for me it doesn't reach the heights of Sparkle Unleashed and Sparkle 2. It doesn't have that same addictive streak that keeps me coming back and spending hours at a time playing. If you like match-3 games then obviously you should probably get it, otherwise skip it.
6/10 SKIP IT!
A code was provided for the purpose of this review. 

Wednesday, 4 May 2016

Blues and Bullets Episode 2: Shaking The Hive (Xbox One) - Review

Blues and Bullets Episode 2: Shaking The Hive is available now on Xbox One and is priced at £3.99 if you're buying the episodes separately.

Now I have to be honest, usually when I'm reviewing an episodic game I'd rather wait until they're all out to review them. I think you deserve to know what I think of the game as a cohesive whole, rather than what I think of each individual chunk. Let's be honest, would any of you have wanted a big retail release like Fallout 4 reviewed in hour long chunks?! But with Blues and Bullets I have (and will be) reviewing them as and when they come out, because it has been ages since Episode 1 released and if I didn't review them singularly I'd forget what the hell has happened before the last Episode.

Now that sounds a little silly but I'm serious, the gap between episodes for Blues and Bullets is far too long and honestly this is my main criticism of the game. The story is gripping and well told, so that by the end you are dying to know what is going to happen next. Fast forward EIGHT whole months and we can finally continue the story. Tiny problem though, a lot of time has passed and I can't remember what the fudge was going on. Yes I can replay the first episode, but lets be honest here, we all have a huge gaming backlog, don't we?

As ever I'm not going to ruin the story here. Episode 2 starts off a little slower than I would have liked, but it soon picks up and by the end I was desperately searching for any known release date for the next episode on the internet. The art style is still a real pleasure to immerse yourself in, the story is gripping and I love the mixture of piecing clues together and shooting the bad guys. The shooting parts really stand out for me in this game, they are just really simple and fun, I love that you can aim in the right general direction before sticking your head out of cover. The dialogue options could be a little clearer as I found myself disappointed in what Ness was saying a few times, but this might just be me!

Overall I'd say Blues and Bullets is a really interesting game, one that I love when I'm playing. However the large break between episodes is a problem for me really, by the time this one came around, any interest I had had waned significantly. Props to the developer though, as once I started playing it had me hook, line and sinker again. I just hope I don't have to wait another eight months for the next episode.
7/10 TRY IT!
A code was provided for the purpose of this review.