If you have played Artifex Mundi games before, you pretty much know what to expect: hidden object screens and puzzles mixed together. The stories, though likable, are often mere frames for the casual adventuring. Lost Grimoires: Stolen Kingdom tries a little bit more with its tale of magic and mystery.
A young alchemist apprentice returns home from the university to train under her master. He has always been like a father figure to the apprentice because she lost her own parents while still a child. Or at least she thinks so, as things left buried long ago are suddenly dug up. The town she remembers is now under a martial law by an order of a king gone seemingly mad.
The story abandons black and white premises and inserts some welcome ambiguity to the motives and events. That's good because gamewise Lost Grimoires: Stolen Kingdom is somewhat more streamlined than Artifex Mundi's games usually are. There's no backtracking whatsoever; the game progresses in a straightforward manner from one story segment to the next. You have only a few screens at a time wherein you move and solve puzzles.
It would make no sense that the heroine is an alchemist if it didn't play a factor in the game. Brewing different potions is a fun game mechanic even though it's strictly dictated by the narrative when and what potions you can make. The majority of puzzles are based on collecting ingredients and containers for potions which in turn help to solve the main obstacle of each playing area. Sadly the potions are disposable and you can't make another dose from the same formula. A small sliding puzzle is needed to finish off your mixture.
Lost Grimoires: Stolen Kingdom is quite easy even by Artifex Mundi standards. The puzzles are elementary and laid out almost too self-evidently. That is not to say that the game is dull; the usual entertainment factor is there, and the story events are surprisingly exciting. When secrets are laid bare one by one, the urge to progress is propelled. It has been a custom in these casual adventures that there's a bonus chapter after completing the game, but I was disappointed to find out that's not the case here.
The visuals are bright, and despite their overly rich nature, the screens are easy to read. The character graphics can be awkward though, and the voice acting is sadly pretty ho-hum, with only a few voice actors doing a bit too many characters for their skill range. Nevertheless, the numerous cut scenes enrich the experience. In the end, Lost Grimoires: Stolen Kingdom is not quite like your typical Artifex Mundi game, for better or worse. While the story is intriguing and mostly succeeds in its ambiguity, the game itself is a tad too simple.
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.