Art theft and intrigue? Munch’s "The Scream" and Picasso’s "Maya with Doll" are just two paintings which have been stolen in real life, and within just the past four years! Often, the thieves seek to exchange these pilfered paintings for a hefty ransom, and since these masterpieces may be worth millions the risks and pay-offs are high.
In the hidden object mystery Enigma, some of the world’s most famous paintings have been usurped, and museums across Europe are in a panic. In total, 50 paintings are at stake, including Da Vinci’s "The Mona Lisa" and "The Virgin and Child with St. Anne," Jan van Eyck’s "The Marriage of Arnolfini," and Bloemaert’s The Bagpiper to name a few.
As an art historian and detective, with a knack for restoring classic masterpieces, you are sent to Paris to investigate. In your pursuit of the thieves, you’ll travel to museums across Europe, finding and restoring the priceless missing paintings as you hunt down the gang of villains responsible.
Your first objective is to find "alien objects" which don’t belong in the paintings. Some of these will scream out to you, especially if you are familiar with the original artwork, but you must still use your list as a guideline since not all alien objects must be found straight away. Some will only be needed once others are found first.
Lots and lots of games have been part of the hidden object genre, so pixel hunting is nothing new, but Enigma also gives the player the chance to "restore" the paintings by place missing objects back into the images, in much the same way as Cate West: The Vanishing Files.
After finding the missing objects in each painting, you are shown a variety of objects which have been removed from the original. You must click and drag each item back to its proper place, which can be a challenge since you’re only shown a thumbnail of the original and cannot see all details. However, there is a built in hint system, and the object glows when its near its correct placement.
If you’re really stuck, you can always scroll the item along the screen and stumble on the elusive spot. Replacing objects is a nice touch, although it would have been nice to be able to view the original in larger than thumbnail format.
If you prefer to play in "free mode" instead of completing the adventure, you can hunt for hidden objects without any story. Each picture will have more objects in it than the last, so it progresses in difficulty as you go along.
The art includes the classic paintings themselves, which were well selected and are a pleasure to look at, and also a variety of photo-realistic objects. Unfortunately, the objects repeat frequently, so expect to find the same coffee grinder half a dozen times.
Objects asked for can also be misleading. You may be asked to find a bow, for example, but there are three on the screen and only one is correct. The music is okay, with a tribal feel, but consists of just one short song which loops continually and can be a bit tiresome after long periods of play. All of these factors limit the replay value.
Now, about that story… it doesn’t ever delve as deep as the premise promises. You’re given a sentence or two in between each level, without any accompanying illustrations, and quite a lot of it is "filler" (ex. You chase the thieves, but they get away."). The story fails to set the mood.
Altogether, it is possible to beat all 20 levels in the game within 2-3 hours time, so the length is acceptable but not as long as would be ideal. Comparing it with other hidden object games, like anything from the Mystery Case Files series, Enigma is typically very easy to play and beat.
Enigma isn’t a hardcore mystery, but it does nicely blend the use of some beautiful classic paintings with the popular hidden object game genre. If you appreciate the masterpieces of Europe and don’t mind some repetition in the objects, its a decent and easy to play hidden object game. Just don’t expect the nearly same depth found in games like The Count of Monte Cristo or Escape the Museum.