Spooktober Entry #12 – Previous Entry: Condemned: Criminal Origins // Next Entry: Slayaway Camp: Butcher’s Cut
This was probably a bad idea on my end, but I believed in a change. Allow me to explain…
A few months ago, I reviewed Eventide 2: Sorcerer’s Mirror, the gaming equivalent of wearing diapers and having your mommy play the game for you, and I thought it was utter tripe, developed by one Artifex Mundi. Mundi themselves are a Polish team of 140+ who proudly boast the ability to develop a game every 3 weeks, and what they fail to mention is that every game is practically and virtually the same.
Name any game in their library, and it’s a run-through the same journeys, with different skins. It’s a hidden object, point-n’-click affair, with no difficulty attached, a new aesthetic based on random mythology or whatever is considered popular, and some of the worst voice acting you’ve ever heard. No two games are ever going to progress differently, and none will ever tax you. The same can and will be said about Abyss: The Wraiths of Eden.
You play as Some Woman Esq., a girl who is so vapid and dull, it’s a miracle that the mirror remembers to show her own reflection. In fact, she’s such a dull, nameless woman, that she is begrudgingly accepts herself to find her missing fiancé, Robert Marceau, a world-famous diver who went missing some time ago. Upon searching his last known location, she discovers the lost city of Raptu– I mean, Eden!
This isn’t just a re-imagining of the plot of Bioshock, it IS Bioshock, but if Bioshock was made by 140+ people who didn’t know what the hell they were doing. You find the city in ruins, there’s two factions inciting war on the streets, and if you’re playing the Bioshock remaster, everyone in both Rapture and Eden have as much animation as a sofa. With this knowledge, where do you go? Down. Like, past Satan-and-his-wine-cellar down.
Actually, now that I’ve gotten the story out of the way, there’s nothing else to say. If you’re here, you already know what Artifex Mundi are like; cynical cash-grabbers who make games faster than your anime body pillow is delivered to your doorstep. An interchangeable choose-your-own-adventure book with half of the pages torn out, and there’s no escape. What else is there to say?
Well, if you somehow don’t know of these limey bastards, allow me to further elaborate on the “gameplay”. You ever played Towers of Hanoi? Where’s Waldo? Kill-Yourself-Before-The-Developers-Do? Congratulations, you’ve already played every Artifex Mundi game under the fucking sun, and you didn’t have to lift a finger. I’m proud of you.
Paired with this are your usual point-n’-click affairs from the 90s MS-DOS era. Back in my Eventide 2 review, I mentioned how these parts of the game were at least rooted in reality unlike the rest of the failed fodder that this genre populates. Not the case here! Because it’s set in a vaguely futuristic city, everything could be anything and now it’s just a matter of spamming the A or X button on every item, just in case it does something.
There’s no punishment for this, you know. You don’t want to take your time, because you’d rather be doing more fulfilling things, so you just keep spamming that A or X button, hoping that the vibrations for a wrong answer eventually stop. There’s no time limit, there’s no restrictions, there’s no extra life system, there’s no punishment or bad endings, it’s gaming for people like Eric Cartman.
Even on Expert mode, this is the case. The only difference on Expert mode is that the hints recharge slower, but the hints they provide “with a price” are the same hints they provide in gameplay without calling for it anyway! It’s absurd, it’s honestly absurd that stuff like this is produced on a console which never called for it. This game, and every other game in Artifex Mundi’s library, offer nothing in terms of gameplay. What else is there?
Well, there’s the aesthetic. Heavily ripped from Irrational Games’ former work (R.I.P) and, thanks to Artifex, has the added pleasure of looking like Matte paintings in a second-hand shop. Given that this is a hidden-object game, it makes sense for certain parts to be thickly detailed for the sake of the hidden object parts of the game, but it’s a surface level addition, and adds nothing. It’s not impressive that this single frame has been drawn, it just makes the pathetic animation you’ve attempted look shoddy and unprofessional.
Speaking of unprofessional, the voice acting has retained its amateur, disgusting audio quality. The kind of audio quality that makes it sound like it was recorded on a Nokia in 1991 BC. Characters don’t speak, more allow noises to escape their mouths as if they believe it performs coherent sentences. Teamed up with the HAM radio voiceover, along with the stunningly shit animation, and you’ve got a recipe for a cyanide cream cake.
The more observant of you might have noticed the beginning of the title of this article. “SPOOKTOBER”. Yes, Abyss is penned as a horror game, and they’ve somehow managed to fuck this up as well. However, when Artifex Mundi say “horror”, what they really mean is “don’t allow the player to move the controller as we make the music screech and zoom in the camera on a scary face”.
The best part is? Artifex Mundi forget that because the game consists of crap concept art, instead of actual animated areas, what this means is that the jumpscares can be spotted from a mile away. The picture quality changes and the world begins to move in 15fps, so when these puny jumpscares DO happen, they’re telegraphed eight weeks in advance, and come with a fucking backing band, set to perform your favourite symphony.
When I finished Abyss, it drained me. It’s not the worst Artifex Mundi game by any means, but it’s just depressing to think about. It’s partly why I fucked up the scheduled daily posting for Spooktober, which I’m still going strong with, because Halloween never dies, baby. Abyss isn’t on the same scale of incompetence as say, SHINY or Marble Void. Instead, it shows you just how utterly slimy and miserable developers like Artifex Mundi are.
You could say I’m overthinking this, that I’m someone who is pissing on parades for people who aren’t like me. I’m going to safely disagree, as what I am, is a reviewer of video games, not crap artist portfolios you have to buy for $10 in order to see. When I see something like this appear in the “new releases” section of a marketplace, I expect a challenge, not a 3 hour long mess that can be completed with two fingers.
In the end, I declare this warning. Never buy an Artifex Mundi game, unless you hate yourself enough to boost your achievements//trophies with crap like this. Actually, buy one of them, because then you know what the rest are like. Know that Artifex Mundi are on the same scale as Asset Flippers, the kind of guys who aren’t interested in the experience, but the benefits of people falling for it. Wait until they can actually create something that can be classed as a fucking video game.
Another shovelware title that doesn't even attempt to hide that tag. Rinse and repeat.