Enigmatis 3: The Shadow of Karkhala - HighrezGaming

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Enigmatis 3: The Shadow of Karkhala / 26th of August 2016

Acclaimed Polish developer, Artifex Mundi, have released the third and final part of the Enigmatis trilogy on Steam, and what a conclusion to the series it is! Building on the same core mechanics that brought the previous two releases to life, this third iteration offers a more action packed experience that, whilst offering little in the way of new mechanics, remains just as strong a release as one would expect from a developer of this calibre. Sure, the hidden object genre is hardly likely to appeal to everybody’s tastes, but you just never know until you try it, and with its mix of varied gameplay, unique puzzles and relaxed, narrative led experiences, the Enigmatis series might just be the place to start…

This particular chronicle once again centres around the hunt for the mysterious Preacher, and takes off exactly after the events in the previous game, seeing the two detectives return to the location of the inaugural release, Maple Creek, in order to find clues that might lead them to discovering the location of their vile, demonic adversary. Naturally, they succeed (or the game would have probably been a little too short) and embark on a trip that will take them on a trip across the globe to Karakorum, the former capital of the Mongolese empire, where Ghengis Khan battled the armies of the Kwarazmian Dynasty – though these events took place prior to the founding of the city. Anyway, I digress…here, amidst a seemingly inaccessible mountain range, the two protagonists delve deep into the secrets and all-but forgotten beliefs of the nomadic people there in order to unearth the knowledge they need to finally deal with the Preacher and put a stop to his nefarious schemes.
As per usual, the locations featured in the game are all beautifully hand painted, in fact there are over forty of them, each bearing a unique look that wholly differs from the previous two entries in the series, adding to the mysticism of the location. Likewise, the animation is certainly not up to scratch, though still more than adequate for a game of this type, whilst the characters themselves still look as highly detailed as the world in which they inhabit. There is also a greater level of diversity amongst these inhabitants, the bulk of which are fairly interesting creations that add to the experience by helping the player become ever more embedded into the local belief systems that are directly inspired by both Chinese and Middle Eastern cultures, something that is reflected brilliantly in the many crypts and dig sites that will be encountered along the way.

Now, with all the talk of culture out of the way, I can move swiftly on to the “crux of the biscuit”, as Frank Zappa’s dog once said, and in this case, it’s not the apostrophe, but rather the gameplay, which, as one really ought to expect from a hidden object game is, well…finding hidden objects. There are around forty puzzles in total spread throughout the game, primarily these take the form of HOPs, or Hidden Object Games, as usual, these simply task the player with looking at a scene and finding a list of items hidden within it. This is probably the first time in an Artifex Mundi game, however, where I have actually struggled to identify some of the objects due to them blending in too much with the background image, it is a relatively small gripe (it’s also my only one actually), but it’s still worth pointing out.
Thankfully though, there are still ways and means around such issues, including a generous hint function that refreshes roughly every minute, identifying the location of an undiscovered item in a HOP, or highlighting an area of interest everywhere else. Naturally though, every HOP can also be experienced as something entirely different, and this time the replacement mini-game takes the form of tile matching, seeing players flipping cards over to identify an image on one, before attempting to find an item associated with this as opposed to a second, exact matching double as is usually the case. For instance, one might display the image of a handgun, whilst its matching card may host a picture of its ammunition, it’s certainly not going to pose too much of a challenge to anyone, but then, that’s not the point really. What it does do though, is present the option of two wholly unique ways to play through the game, which can only help to extend the longevity of a genre that is typically sorely lacking in it.

For fans of the series, Enigmatis 3: The Shadow of Kharkala will provide not only a perfect finale to the trilogy, but also a fine reason to revisit the mysterious locations of Maple Creek and Ravenwood Park once again. It is a typically strong effort from Artifex Mundi who prove themselves time and time again to be the masters of the hidden object genre, who, thanks to the advent of self-publishing on the two major console platforms, have had an opportunity to bring their unique brand of gameplay to an even wider audience. So yeah, if you hadn’t guessed already, I can wholeheartedly recommend a purchase to anyone looking to pick up something casual to play and while away and afternoon, and better yet, it will soon be available on your phones, tablets and consoles as well as PCs, so there’s really no excuse for not giving it a shot, now is there?
James Paton
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