Just when you thought it was safe to dip your toes into the waters of hidden object/point-and-click games, Artifex Mundi resurface with the publishing of another offering of their acclaimed titles, Persian Nights: Sands of Wonders, out now on Nintendo Switch. Developed by Sodigital, this latest title of hidden gems still contains the same, but pleasing, formula of previous releases, but as always, also contains a few new additions buried under the sand to enhance our adventuring experiences even further.
The story follows a dark period for the Persian state. The king, Badiya, is gravely ill and his trusted ally, Grand Vizier Zaved, has beheld a dark power of evil which he uses to rule the land with an iron grip. With the land in ruins, a shadowy disease has begun to spread, bringing with it death and despair for the patrons of Persia. This is where you come in, as young apothecary, Tara. You scour the land on search of a cure for the disease and to find a way to stop the evil rule of the country’s tyrant. With the help of two others, acrobatic swordsman Darius and, as with all good Persian traditions, the genie Minu, the three of you set off on a journey through the searing deserts and deserted temples of the land towards a final showdown against the possessed Vizier.
As with previous Artifex Mundi titles, the main core of the gameplay consists of finding hidden objects, pointing and clicking the scenery and locations, solving puzzles and following the story through a series of impressive cut-scenes. As always, everything here is seamless in its execution, producing a smooth, yet thrilling ride through the wonders of Persia. However, a few new mechanics have also been introduced into the works, creating a more involving and intricate experience that requires some lateral thinking into finding the solutions to the problems that await.
There has always been the element of interacting found items within the scenery in previous Artifex outings, but Persian Nights adds a new twist to this mechanic with the inclusion of examining objects more closely, marked with a plus sign, and combining them with other items to produce something new. However, you may be missing the items component and the need to search thoroughly here, becomes more prevalent than it has ever been.
This isn’t the only change either, as everything seems to have been given a dust of genie magic too, presenting a sharper and more colourful imagery in its 2D backdrops, more impressive cut-scenes that gleam in their presentation and a more, meaningful tone to the spoken narrative. It simply shines with its production values, offering a familiar, yet distinctly new adventure on which to embark. The same mechanics of a helping hand remain, with a diary in which to refer to and a handy hint mechanic that highlights objects, locations or skips any puzzles that may have you perplexed. Casual and Expert modes remain too, offering you either a smooth ride, or a more challenging experience with less hand-holding from the hints system.
There seems to be more of a puzzling element to this title too, than in previous games. With three central characters, the game promotes more character interaction and, at times, switches perspectives as they perform certain functions. As Tara too, you are presented with moments of apothecary, where you need to combine found ingredients in your search for the cure that will heal the sick from the encroaching disease, as well as create spell-like formulas to ward off evil and solve some conundrums. Couple this with the usual hidden object/puzzle mechanics that previous Artifex players are familiar with, you have a substantially more involving mechanic of interaction within this title than you may previously have been used too.
However, despite its extra features and brighter shine to its polish, Persian Nights doesn’t always reach the dizzying heights of previous titles within its genre. The nice, bonus inclusions of a side chapter, highlighting a linked story to the main plot is sorely missing here, thus reducing the overall play time of this title. Plus, although its mechanics promote more interaction, the story ultimately feels a bit bland and cliched in its execution, presenting a feeling that the player is far less involved when compared to older titles; despite its new additions. It may be just me, maybe I’ve played too many Artifex games, too close to each other, but nonetheless, it was a feeling I couldn’t shake.
I also have to admit that this was a title that I finished in less time than previous experiences; reaching the end credits in four hours. Maybe it’s down to over-familiarity with the game’s mechanics, but for new players, or even more thorough ones, then I would safely say that this is a title that will last in excess of that. Despite a couple of shortfalls, which is admittedly a very rare occurrence in Artifex Mundi games, this is still a thoroughly enjoyable game that is full of mystery and intrigue and sublime presentations, which still raise it head and shoulders above other titles that are contained within its genre.
Overall, Persian Nights: Sands of Wonders is another exemplary example of hidden object/point-and-click gaming in its finest form; keeping within the same formula that you’d expect from an Artifex Mundi title. Everything in its execution is seamless, from scenery transitions between 2D backdrops and animated cut-scenes, secondary windows, puzzle solutions and object manipulation. Pair this with a plot and story that is full of mystery and it creates a title that is simply difficult to put down once you have started; much like a good book. It may have a couple of omissions and some downgrading in its gameplay values, but these may be just personal views and not necessarily something that may apply to everyone. However, whatever my feelings, none of them detract from the overall experience that this game offers. It’s intriguing, it’s captivating and it’s presented in a superb manner. Once again, Artifex Mundi show that they are true masters of hidden object/point-and-click adventuring.
REVIEW CODE: A complimentary Nintendo Switch code was provided to Bonus Stage for this review. Please send all review code enquiries to firstname.lastname@example.org.
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Persian Nights: Sands of Wonders Review
Gameplay - 8/10
Graphics - 8/10
Sound - 8/10
Replay Value - 8/10
User Review( votes)
Artifex Mundi come up trumps again, with an adventure that is sure to fill your nights with wonder.