I don't normally bother reviewing every HOG I play, as they are pretty similar and existing reviews tend to hit the points people tend to want to know.
But I realized that I hadn't reviewed an Artifex Mundi title before, so now is as good a time as any to correct that.
Artifex Mundi is, at least on Steam, basically the state of the art of the HOG.
What's a HOG? Basically a "light" "point and click" adventure game characterized by hidden object scenes where you must find objects from a list.
Grim Legends: The Forsaken Bride, the newest title of theirs I've played so far, represents striking production values.
Forsaken Bride hits upon all the key points that HOG players look for - pleasing art, a reasonably engaging story, astutely placed items in hidden item scenes, a mix of not too difficult puzzles, ample handholding for those that need it - and takes it even further:
This title is highly animated compared to typical HOGs. Most scenes have moving/wiggling elements - people, vegetation, weather, etc. This makes the game feel much more "alive", rather than just a slideshow.
The numerous cutscenes are also quite well made.
In addition to using items from your inventory to solve puzzles and progress, sometimes you need assistance from... a kitten.
Yep, that's right. A kitten.
Really, it's quite a cheap trick to put a cute kitten into the game, but, of course, it works. Who can argue with a kitten?
Most of the time, the kitten sits quietly in the corner of your interface, but, sometimes, you can "use" the kitten like an inventory object to solve a particular situation. Sometimes the kitten starts meowing as a hint that he can be of assistance.
Every time this happens, you are treated to an animation of the kitten interacting with the scene.
This title has a feature I hadn't seen before. In addition to the more common trope of looking for a type of object (in this case, faeries) across all scenes (in this case, "regular", not HO scenes), you can also optionally find "elusive objects".
Elusive objects are basically objects that... do not quite belong. They also are not constantly present, instead appearing and disappearing at intervals.
This makes for a welcome change from the typical kind of object hunting. The visual challenge here is distinct - look for something that does not belong/was not there before.
This proves a quite difficult challenge, but the game helps you by indicating when a scene contains an elusive object.
These elusive objects, when found, fit into the illustrations of pages of an optional storybook. When you find all 3 objects on a page, you are treated with a small cutscene.
These pages also serve as another hint for what you are looking for - you can see the outline of the object in the illustration.
In an effort to be balanced, I'll mention a few things that were perhaps not as good as they could be:
* The character art is at times a bit awkward (but the voice acting is quite good). Faces especially sometimes come off as unintentionally "creepy".
* A few puzzles are unintuitive and not as well indicated as they could be (e.g. having to construct a water sprayer to put out a lantern), but this is not unusual for games of this type and is a very minor complaint.
Artifex Mundi develops and publishes high quality HOGs. I've yet to be disappointed by one of their titles, so this recommendation can basically be taken to extend to the rest of their titles - I won't bother writing a review for each one.
For achievement hunters, these titles tend to take about 10-15 hours to 100% without a walkthrough, usually(?) requiring two playthroughs.