STAFF REVIEW of Enigmatis 3: The Shadow of Karkhala (Xbox One)

Saturday, April 28, 2018.
by Brent Roberts

Enigmatis 3: The Shadow of Karkhala Box art While fierce competition continues to permeate multiple gaming genres, there's one company named Artifex Mundi that has quietly, yet definitively carved out their place as the premier and undeniable king of hidden object puzzle games. Known for the casual pace, beautiful graphics, and a focus on sound that is rarely heard from smaller titles, Artifex Mundi has released their final chapter of the Enigmatis series, promptly titled Enigmatis 3: The Shadow of Karkhala. Priced at $6.99, Artifex Mundi tries to close the door on this gripping tale of shadows and sorcery, demons and angels, heaven and hell. So how does this conclusion end? Let's see if we can't find a hidden gem or two inside.

For starters, when I turned on the game I was expecting some soothing music and a beautiful backdrop that acted as my main staging area, and I have to say I wasn't disappointed. There was this young person (whom I hadn't a clue who she was) just sitting there with her flute playing a melody that was captivating and yet harmonic to the soul. For a moment I actually felt like a snake caught in a charmer's sweet tune. Enigmatis 3 starts off with your ability to select your game in normal or hard mode. While doing this you'll see that there isn't one but two tales you can play through and each of them packed full of scenes and levels for you to search through, but you can't play the second one until the first is complete. This type of simplicity is what makes these games so enjoyable and that is shown throughout the entire game with how the game is setup to play.

Using Left and Right Stick, you get to maneuver your observation circle around various still scenes where you can interact with items using the A button, back out of scenes using the B button and examine items that can be expanded using the Y button in your inventory which can be opened by either Right or Left Trigger. Should you wish to use an item somewhere, that can be done via the X button. Now you shouldn't be concerned with ruining the game or locking yourself out of anything because this game, like its predecessors, is incredibly straight forward and will actually stop you from doing something that will prevent you from progressing so essentially there is literally no way you can ever do anything wrong, but it may take you a very long time to do things right.

Your D-pad acts in several ways. Up displays a hint for you (I didn't really ever need it), Right brings up your map and shows you all the places you can't go by placing a red X in the circle, and the areas that you have choices to make are marked with a "!" symbol. Down brings up your evidence menu and Left brings up your journal to show you what your current task(s) are.

This sense of simplicity is also found all throughout the story. In case you haven't played the other two before this, you play the role of a detective who has tracked a demonic preacher throughout the previous two games with the help of her partner. In order to uncover the trail that will lead you to the priest you will have to use your keen eyesight to uncover and discover a wealth of clues and items that will assist you along the way. Once on the right path, you will have to use your clues of evidence to put the pieces of this mystery together and try and figure out a solution. Along the way you will unearth many mysteries and questions, but remember, not everything is as it seems.

The graphics though are everything that it seems and more. Each scene is beautifully hand drawn and looks incredible on a 4k TV playing through an Xbox One X. From water to fire, grass to mountains, peaceful tranquility to hectic turmoil, every scene within the game looks stunning. There are though a few hiccups with the graphics. For starters, the character modeling when they talk is hilariously poor. I'm talking 1980's quality animation that hit the cutting room floor kind of bad. When you engage in someone who you see is talking to you, it appears as their mouth have only a few positions (open, closed, and crooked) and the game cycles through these static images as quickly as possible to try and simulate talking. While good in effort, it's poor in execution. I would actually have preferred to not have any voice acting and instead just text boxes that I could read and cycle through.

The sound though is where this game truly shines for me, as I loved the ambient atmospheric sounds throughout the various scenes. Each one is unique as the artwork that accompanies it and is a stunning companion to the experience. There are though some aspects that are not up to par. Earlier you read that I mentioned lackluster animation when it came to the people and their mouths, and sadly the same negative approach has to be taken to the voice acting as well. You get the feeling you're listening to C grade actors/actresses who want to be B grade, so they overemphasize almost everything to come off as better than they are. This is a massive negative tick but thankfully you won't have to talk to too many people throughout your adventure.

The final drawback though comes from the reality that Enigmatis 3 is not a long game at all. You can go through the game in about a day, and 2 if you wanted to get all the achievements, but despite all of this, it goes without saying that if you enjoyed the other hidden object puzzle games from Artifex Mundi, then Enigmatis 3: The Shadow of Karkhala should be on your radar as a must have game. I can think of many ways to spend $6.99 and not get as much enjoyment as you would find in this game. So take a bow Artifex Mundi, in your curtain call for the Enigmatis story line, you have found a true gem for the gaming world.

Overall: 8.0 / 10
Gameplay: 8.0 / 10
Visuals: 8.0 / 10
Sound: 8.0 / 10


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