Artifex Mundi are back again with another point-and-click hidden object adventure, this time, it’s Enigmatis 3: The Shadow of Karkhala. Enigmatis 3 is the third and final installation to the Enigmatis series, which outside of Nightmares of the Deep, is arguably Artifex’s finest work to date. Does Enigmatis 3 take the trilogy to new heights? Well, it’s a solid game, that much has to be said. However, it still suffers from a number of issues that have plagued almost all of Artifex’s games, but we’ll get to that shortly. Mercifully, the game does a good job at feeding newcomers into the story. That means that even if you haven’t touched Enigmatis or/and Enigmatis 2, the recap in Enigmatis 3 will catch you up to speed.
If you’ve played any games from Artifex before, you’ll have a pretty good idea as to what to expect. These games are very easy and accessible to slip into, demanding practically zero foresight or skill from curious genre newbies. The game plays out via a large band of handcrafted locations, each of which tend to come packed to the brim with detail and captivating design. The aim of the game is to locate points of interest as you make your way through the adventure. Points of interest tend to either be hidden object games, light puzzle work, or items that you can interact with. Regardless as to which aspect you’re faced with, these three pillar mechanics tend to gate progress in one way or another, feeding the game its structure in the process.
There’s roughly eight hours of gameplay to be had here, with an additional chapter thrown in once you complete the main serving. Gameplay sees you moving from one slide to the next, solving puzzles and often using an item that you’re rewarded with for completing said puzzle, elsewhere. Much like with other Artifex titles, there’s a hint system in place to aid you should you find yourselves stuck in the proverbial mud. The downside here, however, is that there’s no penalty for abusing this system. Many great point-and-click hidden object games often put restrictions in place for hammering the hints, but here, it feels like a cheap way to make it from A to B without the risk of consequence. This isn’t a huge gripe, but something I simply couldn’t entirely overlook.
It’s not like the puzzles are hard to work out, many of them just take some observation and perseverance. Take for example, the iconic hidden object puzzles. Players are displayed with a static screen and a list of items that need to be located. Each time you find an item, you simply need to hover over it with your cursor and select it. This will cross the item from the list at the bottom of the screen, and so on and so forth until you’ve completed the task. You can of course opt in for another puzzle in its stead, but this mix and match puzzle is once again fairly straightforward to overcome, inadvertently making the hint system pointless. Don’t get me wrong, I did get stuck a few times and needed to strongly focus on what I was expected to accomplish, but not so much that I thought a hint system was necessary.
Taking on the role of a detective, it’s nice to see the theme of the game leaning heavily on this setup. There’s also a second detective in place to help aid the story to some degree, and on the subject of its story, The Shadow of Karkhala remains intriguing and exciting throughout. I wont spoil and plot threads with this being the final entry in the trilogy, but if you’ve stuck with the series this long, you’ll enjoy the end game as well as the nifty bonus chapter. Unfortunately, and drawing back to my point regarding Artifex’s issues with their impressive catalog of adventures, these are every bit as present here as they ever have been. The difficulty curve is all over the place, never really following a steady line.
The animations are also a bit iffy, but in the grand scheme of things, I’ve come to expect this from the developer. On the plus side, on the other hand, Enigmatis 3: The Shadow of Karkhala houses some gorgeous visuals and design. There’s a great blend of locations to trek through, all of which ensure that the adventure never feels stale or out of place. It helps that the game is upheld by some great audio, which sets the tone of the experience quite well. Now for the elephant in the room. You might remember earlier this year that Artifex announced it was bumping the price of all of its games up, past, present and future, by plus fifty percent. I cant seem to locate a pricing on the marketplace, but it’s likely that this game will cost $15 or region equivalent.
So, is this Enigmatis 3: The Shadow of Karkhala worth the extended price? Definitely. It may be very simple to work through and come tethered to a few issues, but Artifex Mundi know how to create a solid and worthwhile puzzle adventure, Enigmatis 3: The Shadow of Karkhala is by no means an exception, especially if you’ve played the first two games. The Enigmatis series doesn’t quite manage to outshine the exceptional Nightmares of the Deep games, but the storytelling, art design, and innovative core formula, remains on point throughout. It’s fair to say that this is a decent title to jump on if you’re looking for a relaxing evening, without needing to put in much legwork. If that’s what you seek, Enigmatis 3 has your back.
Enigmatis 3: The Shadow of Karkhala is a decent conclusion to the trilogy. It’s a casual puzzle game that doesn’t demand too much legwork, making it an ideal adventure for those that seek simplicity, accessibility and beautiful handcrafted visuals.
This game was tested and reviewed on Xbox One. All of the opinions and insights here are subject to that version.