If I have guilty pleasure games, then they must be the casual adventure titles developed by Artifex Mundi. They’re so relaxing to play - no need to rush or worry about the player character abruptly dying. I have also found them to be excellent party games. They’re engaging entertainment with a friend or two to play with, especially while staring at hidden object scenes, with people shouting items they’ve spotted (and no, booze is not necessary as it only dims perception).
Abyss: The Wraiths of Eden is no exception to this rule. The game's protagonist ends up in an underwater city called Eden as she searches for her missing fiancé, Robert. Eden is not unlike Rapture in Bioshock with its decayed art deco architecture. She finds out that this experimental environment, originally founded for peace, harmony, enlightenment and perfection, is now ruled by ghoulish legates. All the remaining people are imprisoned, along with poor Robert. A small resistance group is on its last legs fighting against the legates' rule and this adventurous woman popping up might be just what they’ve been waiting for.
Luckily, Abyss does not try to mimic Bioshock vibes any further but finds its own voice among the familiar fantastical tones of Artifex Mundi's staple. You could say there’s some Lovecraft thrown into the mix too, with a mysterious tentacled monstrosity behind the legates’ rise to the power. Nevertheless, if you’ve played a casual adventure before, you pretty much know what to expect from Abyss as there’s nothing to break the tried and tested mold. The game is a mix of puzzles, hidden object scenes and mini-games which all serve each other in solving numerous obstacles the protagonist faces through her adventure in Eden.
For a while, Abyss feels really straightforward and easy. All the puzzle solving seems to happen within a few screens at a time, making it all too obvious and brief. Come mid-game, things start to get tangled, thankfully. As the story progresses, new playing areas expand the game world. The whole of Eden must be constantly traversed throughout in a search for missing items and solutions. Abyss borrows elements quite unashamedly from other Artifex Mundi games. Some mini-games are almost straight replicas from previous titles. This really doesn’t hurt random players but someone like me who has played a good share of these games instantly notices it.
Completionists need two playthroughs for a platinum trophy. Not a biggie, as the second playthrough will take considerably less time than the roughly six hours required for the first go. Completing the game is rewarded with a bonus chapter which tells of the events taking place few years before the main campaign. In it, a resistance member called Gregory tries to find his pregnant wife who has been captured by legates.
Abyss is painted in the usual colorful and lively Artifex Mundi style. There are lots of narrative cut scenes, some of which look quite rough with pretty hilarious mouth movement, but they still enliven the events nicely. Sadly, I found the music quite irritating as it’s looping all too brief pieces. The story could have used a bit more focus as some elements were underused. For example, in the beginning a lot of emphasis was put on a mysterious girl showing herself now and again but eventually her part was hastily exposed and brushed to the side lines. All in all, Abyss: The Wraiths of Eden is a solid Artifex Mundi casual adventure, offering the familiar entertainment values you’d come to expect from the company. The original PC version of the game is five years old and Artifex Mundi has released a constant stream of colorful adventures ever since. I hope that they will gradually shift to porting their fresher titles for console players’ enjoyment.
Video game nerd & artist. I've been playing computer and video games since the early 80's so I dare say I have some perspective to them. When I'm not playing, I'm usually at my art board.