|Game: 9 Clues 2: The Ward
Genre: Adventure, Casual, Hidden Objects
Developer: Tap It Games
Publisher: Artifex Mundi
Release Date: Jul 23, 2015
Platform: PC / Windows 7
Overall rating: 8/10
Level/Puzzle Design: 9/10
Replay Value: 3/10
Ah, Artifex Mundi, I how I love thy games. You really know how to make hidden object games!
The second part of the 9 Clues Series, “The Ward”, takes place at a psychiatric hospital. You and your partner, both detectives, get a call from a doctor there and arrive to find the caller has died under mysterious circumstances. You must now solve the murder, and the secret of Mnemosyne Asylum.
As per usual with Artifex Mundi games, the background art is simply gorgeous and detailed. The character art, when still, is fairly good, however it’s not the best of their games, and the animations are… let’s just say they leave a lot to be desired. It feels a little like they’ve almost gone backwards on this aspect. The music (most times creepy) and sound effects are, as per usual, good; the voice acting is unremarkable, which is good in that it is, at least, not bad.
The story isn’t overly original, pretty typical to most HOG games and to Artifex Mundi in particular.
The particularity of the 9 Clues series -and what sets it a bit apart from other HOGs- is the “Detective Mode”; in it, you are made to find a certain amount of clues in the room, and once you do, you are made to put them in order to recreate the sequence of events that occurred there. It’s an interesting change and nice addition to the typical HOG scene, as you’re not really told what you’re looking for exactly, but if you have common sense, it shouldn’t be difficult anyway.
While this is not too different from other ‘find the sequence’ puzzles, it’s a nice change of pace.
Just like other HOGs from Artifex Mundi, however, it continues to have the same downsides. For instance, you’ll need to find 3 items, but you can’t put one into the puzzle already because you don’t have the other two. Or things are in slightly ridiculous places or require to do slightly ridiculous things when any sane person would’ve just used something else that was handy. You can’t really escape those issues in HOGs, for the most.
There was also a very lol-worthy part on the game where you literally find a to-do list on placing a bomb and making it go off. Erm. Seriously?
Something I did really enjoy though was that this one had less backtracking to be done. Most the items you needed for any given section were within one or two rooms from where you were, sometimes even in the same one. Still, with Artifex Mundi backtracking hardly makes a difference, as they have fast travel through the map (speaking of which, the map icons aren’t as nice as in their other games, it made me a bit sad).
With The Ward, they’ve gone back into allowing you to replace Hidden Object scenes for a game of (wait for it, I can never spell it) Mah Jong. The rest of the puzzles found throughout are fairly similar to their other games, some a bit more challenging than others.
There are lots of collectables to be found: phantom objects, clue symbols, model fragments… it was nice, but it also started to get a bit annoying to have to be looking out for all of these.
If you’re a fan of HOGs, and a fan of Artifex Mundi, I definitely recommend this one.