For years, Artifex Mundi has been producing high quality games for the personal computer and mobile (iOS, Android, Blackberry) devices. With over 20 titles, their games have been downloaded more than 12 million times since 2011. Taking advantage of this rare opportunity, I decided to personally play their latest project called Grim Legends 2: Song of the Dark Swan, which was The Collector’s Edition. Unlike its predecessor (Grim Legends: the Forsaken Bride), this adventure/hidden object game is loosely based on “The Six Swans” by the Grimm Brothers and “The Wild Swans” by Hans Christian Anderson.
Meaning, this second sequel is entirely separate from the previous story, except for these major to minor attributes: female protagonist, dark magic, magical potions, friendly animal assistants, and ancient fortresses. As such, fans from the first game and newcomers will be playing as a new main character who happens to be a famous healer with experiences in crafting potions and remedies. Despite having this 180 degree turn, the dark night–when I started the game–had turned into a sun-shiny morning when the credits rolled.
Astonished and quite satisfied from spending non-stop hours in this virtual fairytale setting, I definitely recommend for future players (who enjoy casual adventure, puzzles, mini-games, and hidden object games) to check out this final product, but here’s the reasons about why this high quality game should be noticed and deserved this high score.
Unfortunately, the calm beginning doesn’t compare to the intense but memorable scene with the carriage in Grim Legends: The Forsaken Bride. While folks can experience the tutorials in each demo, the two tutorial situations are still alarmingly different. In fact, you will start your first tutorial at a small secured bedroom and your first hidden object scene at a desk after scattering your medical supplies.
By finding all the pieces, the game will automatically assemble the eye magnifier to use during the examination on the queen who has a mysterious illness. After passing the visual test, the next challenge tests your mental capabilities by following the visual instructions from a book and practical knowledge in measuring the perfect amount of water through two cups. Because this procedure is more complicated, it makes sense that advancing through this step will take a bit longer than the hidden object scenes. By completing this procedure though, you will successfully make a calming brew, which in turn marks the ending of this short but evidently, a peaceful tutorial. However, you will encounter more of these challenging tests throughout the game, but that doesn’t mean they are drastically difficult toward the ending.
Fortunately, the disappointing and relaxing beginning will drastically change when entering the royal highness’s chamber in the next cut-scene. Basically, someone or something has apparently and mysteriously locked the door, which you must quickly break with an axe (that becomes three-dimensional). Upon entering, you discover the unconscious queen lying on the floor with a necklace in her hand, random feathers scattered, and the infant prince missing. After doing a short investigation and reporting the news to the king and his mother, queen is unfortunately arrested for the necklace because the law that prohibits black magic.
Because the whole situation seems fishy, the king asks you (the healer who is not related to the family or have a specific reason) to save his beloved wife who will be executed by midnight. What a bummer for queen and the player! In the first game, you were a sister who felt the need to save a sibling, but now, you’re an outsider who accepts the ordeal out of the goodness of your heart and no other options. Additionally, nobody really bugs you to hurry in your investigation except the king. Talk about the lack of incentives! None-the-less, this change wouldn’t impact newcomers or the main story, but it does feel like a missing component for folks who played the first game.
Anyways, you will travel to other locations outside and further away from the palace where you will pick up magical golden feathers; these objects are messages left by the Swan Kingdom’s deceased king. After retrieving all of them, you will witness side-stories about the king who was obsessed with dark magic and what really happened to the Swan Kingdom. By watching these scenes, you can identify the true culprit for the prince’s abduction, curse’s origin, and the queen’s arrest.
Overall, the story was still very interesting, especially when the white swans were being murdered by the dark swan or green fog. Additionally, the sudden appearance of a stranger who had helped you and became injured were intriguing events that helped kept the story going when the setting seemed too relaxing. Again, without any pressures that were egging you on to find the baby or save the queen, you accomplished puzzles at your own pace. The motivation really came from the children when you are close to finishing the game.
Players can choose three modes: beginner, casual or advance. Depending on your choice, the hint orb will refill quickly or slowly. Spamming the hint button (green orb) can help in progressing through the story and skip puzzles that you deemed as too difficult to complete. Besides having different resources to guide you on your journey. Later on, you will pick up some cute animal friends (first being a bird; second, an otter; third, a nature spirit). Each animal will be of service in collecting items that are out-of-reach for you.
Because this is a hidden object game, most folks would think about the traditional static pictures with many objects that blend in the backgrounds. Artifex Mundi’s games do not use this style. In each hidden object location, players will not only see a beautiful hand-painted scene, but they will also witness some animations; that is, butterflies moving across the screen, water gushing out, etc. Basically, folks will see idle movements at each place. Additionally, the pop-up three-dimensional graphics will break up the two-dimensional scenes at times, which is quite refreshing.
As I previously mentioned, you were visually and mentally tested repetitively, which involved most of your time to complete the cause/effect scenarios (ex: find unlit torch, touch the fire pit with the tool, use the lit torch on cobwebs, etc.). Therefore, a majority of time was on finding and using these tools to access new places.
Other Highlighting Points:
Besides the large emphasis on the story and brief gameplay, the background music and tone from each track matched each scene perfectly. Thanks to Arkadiusz Reikowski and Grzegorz Wlodarski, you will hear nine lovely instrumental songs, such as “Eagle Kingdom”, “Swan Dance”, and “Dark Swan”.
Although this isn’t multiplayer mode or a large massive city with several NPCs roaming around, the game had no glitches or crashes, which made the experience feel very smooth. Plus, the players didn’t have to wait for a loading screen to venture to a new location or wait for the game to load. Having these smooth transitions made players feel more connected to the moment.
Despite stating my initial disappointments for the main story in lacking incentives, I still had a pleasant experience for the second sequel. For one, the hidden object scenes and mini-games were very enjoyable. Secondly, the colorful settings were very beautiful, as well as the other graphics. Thirdly, the music was just overall excellent for the ears. As such, this Artifex Mundi game is a pleasure!
Original Author: Jalane Farrington