Time to give Humble Bundle a second chance after that Broken Sword fiasco (still pissed about that). My expectations for the Artifex Mundi bundle weren’t to high to begin with. After all, a whopping 10 titles from just one developer in a single bundle for a minimum price of $0.50 each? Can you really expect quality work there? Turns out: yes you can!
First of all: all the APKs are at least half a gigabyte in size. That’s some serious amount of assets (even after factoring in that all of the graphics are included for multiple display resolutions). So far, I only managed to play through “Crime Secrets: Crimson Lily“. The other titles will probably be very similar to it (as in: different story, but same mechanics/engine).
In “Crime Secrets: Crimson Lily”, you assume the role of a nondescript (female) private detective on her way to a remote ski hotel for a well earned vacation, when suddenly: murder! Being cut off due to a snow storm, it is now your job to unmask and detain the killer. As cheesy as it sounds in summary, the story is actually quite enjoyable as you start completely in the dark and slowly work yourself towards the big picture. Speaking of pictures: the graphics are beautiful and already a reason to buy the game on their own.
Gameplay is where Artifex Mundi cut corners (at that price, they had to somewhere). The game engine is as cheap as it gets. Technically, Crime Secrets counts as a point and click adventure game, but it comes nowhere close to the works of LucasArts, Telltale or Revolution: there is no walking around in the scenes and most scenes are standalone puzzles. Only few objects will move between rooms and none stay in your inventory long enough for you to wonder what possible use they could have. Progress in the game, in fact, feels a lot like flipping through the pages of an illustrated and themed riddle book (which isn’t necessarily a bad thing). Basically every screen is either:
- a (themed) logic puzzle
- a hidden object scene /wimmelbook
- a “clear the path” problem
None of them overly challenging, but there’s enough for a solid afternoon of entertainment. If nothing else, it’s probably a great interactive storybook for teaching kids how to read.