Artifex Mundi are back with another point and click adventure; Queen’s Quest 2: Stories of Forgotten Past. Much to be expected, there’s puzzles of all shapes and sizes to keep you busy throughout the entirety of play, all of which are tied to a predictably daft plot that does little to excite. Still, we rarely dive into these games for their stories, do we? That said, how does the game’s most alluring features play out? Quite well, I can safely assure you. Though, before we get ahead of ourselves, let’s take a step back and go from the top.
The story in Queen’s Quest 2 revolves around a play-it-safe murder mystery. You take on the role of a respected alchemist, who just so happens to have been summoned by the king to investigate a string of killings. What begins as a straightforward case, soon spirals out into something much more sinister and widespread. Secrets uncover new threads, new threads uncover new secrets, and round and round the plot spins until you’re looking the endgame in the face. Despite its reliability, I will credit Queen’s Quest 2 for its overall quality within.
Oftentimes, I praise any game that comes from Artifex. Sure, we’ve had a few stinkers here and there, but for the most part, Artifex dish out some very well developed puzzles. With that in mind, there’s always usually a few drawbacks; chief among them being poor voice acting and shoddy animation. In Queen’s Quest 2, the animation is on point. In fact, I daresay that it’s the best I’ve seen from Artifex to date. The voice acting, on the other hand, is still pretty terrible. I’m not sure who they hire for actors, but maybe it’s time for a refresh.
The game does a wonderful job at feeding you into the basics of play via a brief, skippable tutorial. The crux of play remains the same as ever. You’ll move through a range of beautifully designed locations, solving various puzzles, and picking up items for use in other areas. Queen’s Quest 2 rarely deviates from that functionality, with the exception of a few interesting mechanics. Alchemy, for instance, sees you frequently opening a portable station that has you mixing herbs and other similar items, to craft potions and remedies.
It’s a neat feature, although very straightforward to use, perhaps overly so. It would have been nice to see more innovation on this front, rather than simply having players follow idiot-guide instructions until the process is complete. Nevertheless, using said potions, you’ll be able to alter your physical form to reach new areas and interact with fantastical creatures. This helps to push the plot along at a brisk pace, at the same time as keeping things fairly grounded and unique. Speaking of unique, that’s a running theme in this game.
Thanks to the game’s fairy tale backdrop, you’re able to meet (and aid) some iconic characters throughout your journey; Little Red Riding Hood, Robin Hood, and more besides. The puzzles range from hidden objects and jigsaws, right up to the likes of pairs and item management-based brain twisters. There’s a good amount of diversity across the board, and although many of the puzzles are painfully familiar, they still prove to be quite challenging nonetheless. There’s a generous hint system in place that allows you to bypass puzzles.
This comes with a recharge that will reactivate your ability to use a hint every twenty seconds or so. These hints alter depending on what you’re doing. If you’re in a puzzle, using a hint will tell you what you need to look for next. If you’re in the environment, the hints will point you in the right direction. If, however, you’re in a mini game – such as a duel – using a hint will give you the option of skipping the sequence entirely. Though, one questions why anyone would use this as much as it allows you to. Either way, the choices are present.
Back to the point, the puzzles are put together very well. Whether you’re seeking out hidden objects in a clutter of mess, measuring and aligning gauges to unlock a cage, or even merging objects to craft an item for use elsewhere, there’s always something to get your mind motivated. Being a point and click adventure, there’s not much to go on in regards to its handling. You’ll simply guide a cursor to move through locations, and then use said cursor to investigate your immediate surroundings. It’s very to-the-point throughout.
There’s a world-map present too, and even this comes with some neat features. Early on, you’ll need to get from your home to the kingdom’s castle. In order to do this, you’ll need to craft a potion to fly there. Once you have your potion, you’ll zoom through the sky and will need to overcome some mini games before you get to your destination. It’s hardly groundbreaking, but it does add to the overall variety all the same. Once you’re done with the several hour campaign, and its several, several puzzles, there’s a bonus section to enjoy.
This doesn’t take nearly as long as the campaign, however, it does bolster the game’s longevity a small amount. When all is said and done, if you’ve played any given Artifex game before, you’ll know exactly what to expect, save a few minor differences. The game’s environments are gorgeously drawn, with a decent degree of distinction present to break up that samey-samey feeling. I’ll also commend its soundtrack, which goes hand in glove to solidify the fantasy structure. Bottom line? If you enjoy puzzlers, this is one for your library.
If you follow Artifex, Queen’s Quest 2 will feel painfully familiar due to its lack of formulaic deviation. Unsurprisingly, the story is its weakest element, with its unenthusiastic voice work trailing closely behind. That said, it’s still a fairly robust and very challenging puzzler nonetheless. One that certainly knows how to motivate your senses through its intelligent design, its commendable diversity, and its expertly detailed locations.
This game was tested and reviewed on Xbox One. All of the opinions and insights here are subject to that version.Want to keep up to date with the latest Xt reviews, Xt opinions and Xt content? Follow us on Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube.