Queen’s Quest 2: Stories of Forgotten Past – Xbox One Review
Artifex Mundi have garnered a reputation for producing quality games of a certain genre, so if you like hidden object puzzle games and see this developer is behind a title, you expect something of superior quality. Its with these high expectations I took on Queen’s Quest 2: Stories of Forgotten Past. This games predecessor never made it onto Xbox One but it doesn’t really matter as this sequel stands up nicely on its own.
You’ll be playing the heroine, an alchemist with a talent for concocting shape-shifting potions, who also fancies herself as an ace detective. This has been noticed by the king, who calls on you to investigate a series of killings. As you would expect, what starts as a seemingly simple whodunnit takes on plenty of twists and turns as the plot gets more sinister. In this mixed up fantasy world, fables and fairy tales collide so you’ll encounter characters like Little Red Riding Hood and her granny, Hansel and Gretel and even Robin Hood. An often-made criticism of these puzzle games from Artifex Mundi is the poor characterisation and sub-standard voice acting and this is pretty much in evidence here. It doesn’t help that people are drawn completely face on to camera, and with the poor script you end up with very 2 dimensional characters. There is a surprise though as your character can concoct shape-shifting potions which she uses on herself to shrink down to the size of a mouse. You can then talk with small creatures such as a squirrel of a snail, with the resulting comedic voice acting and anthropomorphic look of the creatures making these encounters the highlights of those you’ll make during the game.
The artwork in Queen’s Quest 2 is well up to the developers usual high standard, with scenes looking like a painting that are packed with detail. This aspect is certainly important when it comes to the hidden object puzzles as you’re overloaded with things to look at and take as you hunt for clues. The animation is very basic however, with the minimum amount of movement in scenes, but enough to still convey the story and move the plot along.
The bread and butter of this kind of game are the puzzles, and there are plenty of them to tax your brain and test your attention to detail, and theres a very good mix of them so you never feel like you’re grinding your way through the plot.The hidden object puzzles are even a good mix, in one you may be looking for objects from a one word description, in the next you might be looking for things only identified by its silhouette. The prize for solving the puzzles is usually an object that gets added to your inventory, that often needs to be combined with other objects to make it useful to you. You’ll go backwards and forwards through the screens collecting these objects before you can use them to unlock the next level or clue. For example at one point you notice a satchel in the water but cant reach it, so you carry on, to find out a couple of screens later you need to retrieve it to get the key to a locked gate that stops your progress. So back you go, but at the same time, to retrieve the satchel, you need to find a fishing rod, hook and string, and combine them all. The back and forth, picking up objects and solving puzzles, is the main mechanic of the game, and as long as you solve the puzzles, you always feel like you’re making a constant progression through the unfolding story. You can call upon hints that tell you what you need to be looking for next, and these can be used st regular intervals as you need to keep recharging them. The game can also be played in a harder mode with the hints taken away if you are feeling confident enough.
Although the hidden object levels are the mainstay, theres also a nice variety of other puzzles to exercise the old grey matter. There are jigsaw puzzles, matching pair memory games, and other brain twisting puzzles you’ll have to discover for yourselves. There is nothing new or innovating here, but its still all well designed and thought out.
Despite its linear nature, there is still a certain amount of replay value to the game as there are incidental bonuses such as trying to find a jigsaw piece hidden in each screen, or playing through and collecting a set of figurines. Once you’ve finished the main story, there is a bonus section that unlocks for you to play, not the longest, but it still adds some extra content to keep you playing a bit longer.
Queen’s Quest 2 gives you everything you expect for an Artifex Mundo point and click puzzler, so if you’ve enjoyed previous titles, this is another adventure you are going to want to have a go at. Without giving you anything new, it caters nicely for fans of the genre, entertaining and challenging the player in equal measure.
Developer: Brave Giant
Publisher: Artifex Mindi
Many Thanks to Artifex Mundi for the review copy.