Review: Enigmatis: The Ghosts of Maple Creek
Sometime back in August, I discovered a hidden gem on the PlayStation Store called Nightmares from the Deep. It’s a hidden object adventure game from Artifex Mundi, a developer that seems to exclusively make hidden object games, that tells the story of the undead pirate Captain Remington. I completely fell for the game within its opening hour, despite perhaps an over-reliance on hidden object puzzles, and the name Artifex Mundi found itself forever etched into my memory. So, you can imagine my excitement when I discovered an all new game from Artifex Mundi sitting right there on the PlayStation Store, just waiting to be found.
Enigmatis: The Ghosts of Maple Creek takes place in a small town somewhere in rural Vermont. A teenage girl has gone missing and we take on the role of the detective that’s gone searching for answers. Things start with the detective waking up in the middle of the street after a strong storm tears through the town, she has no memory of what just happened, and none of the townsfolk are anywhere to be found. It’s certainly an interesting way to kick things off, but I also feel it plays into the game’s overall poor pacing. Enigmatis feels like it starts at Act 2 and proceeds to show its hand a bit too early when it comes to the overarching mystery. Stories like this can often present the town itself as a key character, and because Enigmatis rushes to spill the beans we never really get to build that connection with the town, or its residents. There are some interesting pieces of backstory you’ll uncover throughout the game, but only a few bits and pieces have any kind of payoff.
Enigmatis features a pretty similar puzzle setup compared to Nightmares from the Deep, and I’d assume every other Artifex Mundi game. There’s a huge amount of hidden object puzzles (perhaps too many), a decent chunk of unique puzzles that are specific to certain doors/mechanisms you’ll come across, and a healthy dose of backtracking. This setup works pretty well for the most part. Context specific puzzles help to change things up a bit between hidden object scenes and the relatively open exploration allows you to move at your own pace. Backtracking is never an issue as moving across the entire map only takes a handful of seconds and I really like the feeling you get when you find a key and instantly know where it can be used. The game also introduces an evidence wall that you’ll come back to multiple times throughout the game in order to piece together new bits of evidence. It’s a great way to organize every piece of the story into something a bit more coherent and certainly helped to point me in the right direction a few different times.
Considering its origins on PC, I really think these games control pretty well on console, probably better than you’d expect anyway. I’ve never had any issue navigating the environment, searching my inventory, or solving puzzles. The only real issue, is that some objects in the hidden object scenes require a little more precision than others. There are rare occasions where I need to adjust the cursor a little bit to properly click an object, but those are quite rare and luckily the penalty (on normal difficulty) is non-existent.
I may not feel as strongly about Enigmatis as I’d hoped, but it still presents much of what I was hoping to find when I started it up. There’s plenty of hidden object scenes, the unique context specific puzzles are still generally pretty fun to solve, and the evidence wall is a neat inclusion. It should also be stated that the game just looks really nice, it’s clear that a good deal of effort went into the detail of every scene. Unfortunately, the story and characters weren’t quite what I was hoping for, which leaves me a bit sour about the game’s “To Be Continued…” note at the end.
A copy of this game was purchased for review purposes. For more info on our review policy click here.
What I Like:
- Evidence Wall
- Detailed scenes
What I Dislike:
- The way the story and characters are presented.