The stories in casual adventure games by Artifex Mundi are usually sufficient enough to tie together various puzzles. The tales are entertaining for sure but nothing special. Grim Legends 2: Song of the Dark Swan is not afraid to seek inspiration from the classic fables by the brothers Grimm and H. C. Andersen to tell its story about the Eagle and Swam kingdoms. The fairy tale’s stakes are high but the game only partially succeeds in playing its hand.
As always in Artifex Mundi adventures, the player yet again assumes the role of a heroine. This time she’s a famous healer who’s summoned to the Eagle kingdom to help the queen who has taken mysteriously ill. Suddenly the infant prince of the royal couple vanishes and the queen is accused of practicing black magic. This warrants a death sentence and the king begs the healer to travel to the Swan kingdom to find out the truth.
At the risk of sounding like a broken record stuck on a groove, it must be once again told that the game, like everything else in Artifex Mundi catalog, is a mix of item-based puzzles, hidden objects scenes and mini games. There are lots of backtracking to do to finish the puzzles when you manage to acquire the needed items for them much later. It adds to the apparent overall coherence when the player is not restricted to a few scenes at the time.
The first two chapters of Grim Legends 2: Song of the Dark Swan are absolutely some of the best I have played in Artifex Mundi games. The mysteries of the story hooks you in and the puzzles are surprisingly complex. Unfortunately, the game turns sour in the long run. The story alongside the puzzles get archaic and forced. The big problem is the lack of variety in the mini games. Most of them are sliding puzzles and quite nasty too. After you've twisted and turned game pieces to reach a deadlock, you’d wish for a reset button to start over. Some Artifex Mundi games offer this chance but Grim Legends 2 doesn’t. Even exiting and re-entering mini games doesn’t reset them. It makes hitting the skip option all the more tempting but that would mean one achievement less.
The presentation is bold and vivid with distinctive characters and landscapes painted in strong strokes. Too bad the ham voice acting doesn’t match the beautiful imaginary. Grim Legends 2 has a good length for the game of its genre but the best part waits at the end. The bonus chapter unlocked by beating the main game is simply too fun. The puzzles to banish the dragon harassing the fairy people all connect to each other and some are even ingenious. The sheep analogue you need to rig up is just a charmer!
It’s again the broken record time. Grim Legends 2: Song of the Dark Swan is an amusement spent well and I so love these games where you’re not in a constant mortal danger. The strong start made me disappointed by the rest of the game which didn’t live up to the first promises. Luckily the bonus chapter saved the day. I’m pretty sure the best Artifex Mundi game is yet to be seen as an Xbox One conversion. Meanwhile, I keep playing these casual adventures with great pleasure.
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.