Artifex Mundi are back once again with another point-and-click puzzle adventure game from their expansive portfolio, and this time it’s Lost Grimoires 2: Shard of Mystery. I’ve lost count at this point as to how many games Artifex have pulled over to the Xbox One, but it goes without saying that if you’ve played even just one of their games, you know exactly what to expect, give or take a gameplay mechanic here and there. One thing I have always commended Artifex for is their care and attention to detail, more so when it comes to the hidden object portions of their games, and Lost Grimoires 2 is no exception. The game takes place in the same world as its predecessor, but is set several years later. The story tells of an endless war against a witch known as Drosera, who is now confined to a magical mirror following her defeat at the hands of the King.
However, the King passes away following a series of strange illnesses and it now falls to protagonist Violet to prepare the King’s son, Fern, for his future. Once the prologue is out of the way, we catch up with Violet several years later, the day before Ferns coronation. It’s here where the shit hits the fan. Fern has disappeared and it’s up to Violet and her powers of alchemy to track him down and get to the bottom of what’s happened. Rose, Ferns love interest, has seemingly freed the evil witch from her confinement and from here on out, you’ll be solving heaps of puzzles as you attempt to bring down Drosera one last time. It’s a very straight forward affair as far as fantasy stories go, but it proves to be engaging nevertheless, if somewhat predictable.
Despite that the gameplay remains largely the same in comparison to previous outings, there are a number of changes that have been made to the core formula. The most notable change is that there is no longer the inclusion of Domino or Mahjong choices in place of the hidden object puzzles. Gameplay typically has you browsing through a collection of screens and interacting with the scenery. It’s not at all difficult to work out where to go or what to do, which can also be said about the many puzzles that await you in Lost Grimoires 2. Puzzles are not exclusive to activity sets that you locate and solve, as the overarching pace of the game is a puzzle in itself too. Sometimes, for example, you will need a specific item to proceed to a certain area, an item that you can only obtain by completing a puzzle in another section of the game entirely.
This helps to dial down the pace of the game, and as such, extends the play time as a result. Speaking of the length of the game, Lost Grimoires 2 roughly lasts between six to seven hours worth, which falls marginally short of the eight to ten hours worth of play we’ve witnessed in other games from Artifex. It goes without saying that there’s a good blend of puzzles within the game, but it hurts the experience to a small degree when these puzzles are far too easy and lack any difficulty curve throughout. That’s always been my major complaint regarding Artifex, which is that their games don’t offer a difficulty that gradually climbs in complexity as you move through. Here however, the difficulty tends to remain on a singular rail from start to finish, lacking much of a challenge at all. I dare say that most of the time, common sense or simple logic got me through, and I’m far from the brightest bulb in the box. Make of that what you will.
The implementation of the new alchemist system is a neat addition, which sees you obtaining ingredients to make a concoction that allows you to play a match-three mini game. Here, you’re required to clear a number of gems within a set number of moves, and although this is by far one of the most endearing features in the game, it doesn’t save Lost Grimoires 2 from the downsides already mentioned. It also doesn’t help that the game houses poor character animation and bland voice acting, which its immediate predecessor fell victim to, too. On the flip-side, Lost Grimoires 2 does offer some outstanding artwork that varies greatly from one scene to the next, making sure that the player is constantly treated to new and wonderful sights. Sadly, the story that holds all of this together is as flat as the aforementioned difficulty. If you’re on the market for a new puzzle game, Artifex has much better to offer on the Xbox One. Lost Grimoires 2 would be a very poor starting point.
Lost Grimoires 2 isn’t a terrible puzzle game, but that’s not to say that it’s a good one. Artifex has much better to offer on Xbox One, and if you’re on the market for a new brain teaser, this game wouldn’t be the best experience to consider. It’s short, the story loses grip, and the puzzles are far too easy throughout. The excellent and diverse artwork along with the new gameplay mechanics remain interesting, but when all is said and done, this game is merely a conduit to pass some care-free time.
This game was tested and reviewed on Xbox One. All of the opinions and insights here are subject to that version.