Adventuring so good you’ll get a little misty-eyed
A direct sequel to Enigmatis: The Ghosts of Maple Creek, Enigmatis: The Mists of Ravenwood lets us put on the detective badge once again in a wonderful tale of intrigue and hidden object adventuring. On her continued search for the demonic preacher who eluded her at the end of the last game, our fearless detective comes across a frightened young girl named Becky at the edge of a campground. The detective’s search for the little girl’s parents ultimately leads her into the happy and idyllic campgrounds of Ravenwood, although everything is certainly not as it seems before long: from the oh-so-cheery camp workers, to the way the world seems to shift into darkness at regular turns, and of course, let’s not forget the barrels of dead bodies and giant shadowy raven that tends to stop by from time to time.
The game’s presentation is particularly top-notch, with wonderfully painted visuals and smooth animations, not to mention impressive 3D character models that work like magic in the many engrossing cutscenes. What’s great about this game is that The Mists of Ravenwood completely owns up to its rustic campground setting, and everything beyond it makes logical sense within the overall constraints of its own uniquely crafted world. Areas like the logging cabins, a giant tree that you can walk inside of, and even a short detour to the rocky beach below all feel realistic and connected, and you’ll never veer off into that oversaturated futuristic temple that seems to make an appearance at the end of almost every hidden object adventure game these days.
The Mists of Ravenwood does a lot of things that go the extra mile towards making the overall experience feel like so much more than your typical hidden object adventure. The most welcome of these features are in the deductions that your character can make by strategically placing found pieces of evidence on an investigative bulletin board of sorts (you are a detective after all!). While it’s really just a matter of dragging the different evidence items over one of the various plot point circles until you find a match, it’s still an extremely nice way of advancing the plot and giving players a nice refresher course at regular intervals as to what the underlying mysteries are.
Even more interesting than that, though, is your mysterious companion who helps you work through the clues from his imprisonment behind a large steel door in the dungeon-like basement of the Snack Bar. His rescue from this underground lair is pivotal to the overall success of your mission, and each time you find and return one of the 12 stone recess keys that unlock the door to his cell, the stranger will reveal a new piece of backstory lore that serves to fill in the missing gaps through wonderfully executed cutscenes. Even the game’s optional collectables are a step above the rest, from tiny white Ethereal Butterflies to slight visual anomalies in the environment called Illusive Objects, where finding them all will unlock some additional achievements that are put on display in a beautiful outdoor trophy room.
From the very first time that players are thrust into a hidden object scene, it’s clear that The Mists of Ravenwood isn’t afraid to take some chances. A lot of these scenes are meticulously crafted and presented in a way that you’ll always be working towards an immediate final goal, as opposed to simply looking for a list of random and unconnected objects. For instance, in the first occurrence of the game, players will need to find something that will allow them to gain a very rattled Becky’s trust. So while the hidden object scene begins like any other, those batteries you find will immediately be put to use in the same scene to power up a nearby toy, while that needle are thread will be needed to stitch up a wounded teddy bear that sits in the heart of the area (after you find his missing leg of course!).
Each of these hidden object scenes can be viewed as an overarching puzzle in their own right, which is a good thing, considering the game’s actual mini-games and puzzles are few and far in between, and never all that particularly challenging. But of course, that’s not to say the game never reverts back to using traditional list-based hidden object scenes as well, which feel bland and uninteresting when compared to the fantastic more puzzle-oriented ones. The game also winds up needlessly repeating a few of these more uninteresting scenes the further you progress, but they only stand out as a bump along the way because all the other hidden object scenes are just so darn good and mesmerizing to play.
While Enigmatis: The Mists of Ravenwood can certainly be played to completion without ever having to step foot in Maple Creek, a deeper knowledge of the first game would probably help in certain situations. In fact, the way the game handles itself as a sequel was the one glaring flaw I found with the experience. At times, it often felt like the game was a standalone adventure, which was all well and fine. But then some crucial plot points and characters begin to pop up that explicitly reference past events before The Mists of Ravenwood even began. In these moments, the dialogue begins to breaks apart in order to overly explain these connections, like one character towards the middle of the game saying something along the lines of, “Remember me? I worked alongside you the last time around to help stop that demonic preacher!” I’m pretty sure our character remembers that. Thanks for the update, though.
But the storyline held my interest from the opening moments right up until the final frantic confrontation, and there were always just enough plot turns and unanswered questions to drive my every motive along the way. Even though I managed to complete the entire adventure in only 3 short hours, the Collector’s Edition of the game also offers a unique bonus chapter that takes place entirely in the past, and serves as a wonderful compliment to the main narrative so the breezy length of the main game isn’t that much of an issue. Enigmatis: The Mists of Ravenwood is an excellent hidden object adventure in every sense of the word. From its unique puzzle-oriented hidden object scenes, to its vibrant presentation and thrilling storyline, I’ve managed to come up with a brilliant new deduction of my own: you need to play this game!