This was a solid hidden object game, and I enjoyed it more than the first "Nightmares from the Deep" title.
Gameplay involves a wide variety of puzzles and challenges such as:
1. Traditional hidden object screens (clearly denoted by sparkles on the easier difficulties), and FROG (fragmented object) puzzles. These HOGs and FROGs were well-constructed with clean art and a satisfying level of difficulty.
2. Bonus game-wide "I-spy" style challenges including octopi (concealed within level backgrounds), seahorses (exposed by certain hand icon actions), and owls (disappearing, reappearing background images). The seahorses and octopi were fairly simple to find once you knew what you were looking for, but waiting around for the owls to appear was a bit tedious at times. Additionally, unlike AM's more recent titles with this kind of bonus content, there is no on-screen indicator to let you know if you missed one of these objects on a particular screen.
3. An assortment of brainteaser mini-games like tile-swapping, rotating discs, jigsaws, matching, and spot-the-difference puzzles. There were a handful of new surprises and unique challenges; however, many of the puzzles were what I have come to see as trademark mini-games for this studio ("arrange the books," "plug in the four cables," "place all the gears," "rotate the discs," etc). Although, they made the effort to give each of the old standbys a fresh nautical-themed spin, with completely new art.
4. Recipes. (It wouldn't be an Artifex Mundi game without them.)
5. Typical adventure gaming object-based challenges. The game does a good job of letting you know what objects you should be looking for, and it gives you constructive feedback if you try to use the wrong item solution.
As for other aspects of the game:
- The art and backgrounds are well done, with the best character models I have seen from this studio.
- The voice acting is decent.
- The music is dramatic and appropriately action-y, although slightly generic.
- The story is coherent, interesting, and has a proper ending. It directly follows the first game, and feels like a natural continuation of the narrative. It was a bit of an overkill, though, to have the story expressed through dialogue, and cutscenes, and the scattered writings of various characters, and then rehashed all over again with the dwarf's cinematic flashbacks. There was a lot of duplication of information.
- The map completely eliminates tedious backtracking by letting you click on any location to instantly teleport there. (I could seriously hug this map). This applies to all difficulty settings.
Overall, I would give this title an 8.5/10.