Rating : 7/10
Another Artifex Mundi Xbox release, another review from your favourite fake bishop. As always, I’ll take this opportunity to explain that this title, like all other Artifex Mundi games, is a puzzle game primarily focused on point-and-click style gameplay. While this may seem at odds with using a controller instead of a mouse, the experiences still tend to be rather enjoyable. Instead of just explaining what the game is, I’d like to compare it to the other Artifex Mundi releases to give an idea of how this one stacks up.
For the most part, I can really only compare the visuals, sound quality, and puzzle variety/difficulty in these pieces because while narrative plays a central role, it is usually fairly forgettable or predictable. This is truly unfortunate due to how these titles have the potential to tell compelling, or at the very least, less obvious stories of helpless people overcoming monstrous odds. But alas, the safe and predictable tale is what we are left with. So instead, let’s focus on the meat of the game: the puzzles.
Like many other Artifex Mundi titles, Nightmares from the Deep 3: Davy Jones is filled to the brim with puzzles. From in-your-face classic puzzles such as properly aligning gears (in tile form) to fix a machine, to environmental dilemmas including figuring out what to do with that new key item you just picked up. Nearly all of these will feel familiar to a player that has experienced the other titles and probably won’t even surprise new players all that much.
One of the main criticisms I’ve heard about Artifex Mundi’s titles is that all the puzzles are too easy and don’t really offer much (if any) challenge. I like to turn that idea on its head. Normally I enjoy playing more difficult games that push me either through reflex, concentration, or patience. So when I get to sit back and calmly complete a game and its relatively easy puzzles, it gives me a chance to relax, to decompress.
Games like Nightmares from the Deep 3 are integral to how I game because if I always played games like Cuphead, Dark Souls, and Monster Hunter, I’d get extremely burnt out from feeling like everything is out to get me. Granted, I do still primarily play those games over Artifex Mundi titles, but their importance still stands. Sure, Minecraft can be fun and relaxing, but there’s no end to it. Personally, one of the biggest draws to Nightmares from the Deep 3 is the fact that I can complete it while I sit back and relax.
While the puzzles and their effect on mental health are important, we should also take a look at what Artifex Mundi has done to improve what players will see and hear when they boot up their most recent nautical adventure. The very first thing I noticed while playing Nightmares from the Deep 3 was how much the animations had improved. For those who have not played previous titles, the animations that characters would use and how things would move in the environment has always been a bit low quality. With this new entry though, it seems like animation is getting some much needed love and I really appreciate it.
There is one thing that bugs me and that is how characters and items will sort of *pop* into existence when they are needed for a scene. This isn’t any better when the scene is over as there is a very obvious, and ugly, transition to still frame after any scene. This is a shame because the actual art seems to be getting even better overall. As a short aside, I would like to mention that I really didn’t notice a large enough difference in sound or music quality. The voice acting seems to be a bit better, but this may be due to me getting too comfortable with the same voice actors.
Beyond that, there isn’t much to say that wouldn’t ruin the game. It’s another Artifex Mundi title. If you’ve played one before, you know what to expect. If you haven’t, I hope this review helps you get an idea of what’s to come. While the titles are never exceptionally long, they are fairly cheap, on sale often, and offer something that not many games (on Xbox at least) can offer.
Doesn’t break any Artifex Mundi tropes or anything, but also isn’t a bad time waster. Fans of light puzzles and predictable stories with damsels in distress that turn into the champion by the end will find what they’re looking for here.
Resident Dark Souls Expert