Published by Forever Entertainment
Released in 2018
As a child I loved the ‘Where’s Wally’ books. Created by English illustrator Martin Handford, these books consist of a series of detailed illustrations showing a crowd of people doing a variety of amusing things at a random location. There was little to no plot, but instead the reader is challenged to find Wally hidden in the group. In theory he is easy to spot, in his red-and-white-striped shirt, bobble hat, and glasses. However, the illustrations contain red herrings involving deceptive use of red-and-white striped objects. These books celebrated the simple delight of discovery. There’s an undeniable joy in finding something that has eluded you, an immediate hit of satisfaction and relief. It’s a reaction that explains the enduring popularity of hidden object games, where, like the ‘Where’s Wally’ books, all you really seem to be doing is treasure hunting. Given my childhood love of this practice it seems strange that for too long I have dismissed these games as being too casual. Having played video games for more than thirty years I mistakenly believed that something so light on gameplay wouldn’t hold my attention. But as the old saying goes, you shouldn’t judge a book by its cover.
Books are a good thing to acknowledge when talking about an Artifex Mundi game. Each one is essentially a novella, telling a brisk story that is intended to be played in one sitting. With a few exceptions, most of their eighty games tread very familiar ground. Many people have even accused the company of trading off the success of others, mimicking the art and names of many successful franchises. 'Agent Walker: Secret Journey' could be confused with 'Agent Carter', 'Ghost Files: The Face of Guilt' echoes 'X Files' , 'Set Sail: Caribbean' is clearly influenced by 'Pirates of the Caribbean' and 'Uncharted Tides' could very easily be confused with Sony's hugely popular 'Uncharted' games. At a casual glance they can so easily be considered, at best, pastiches but most would call them shameless cash-ins. To do so would be unfair. Yes the games are undeniably influenced by other properties, but to say they don’t have any merit or artistic integrity would be wrong. While the Artifex Mundi games may borrow themes and character types, the games this studio offer are polished and engaging in their own right. An audience may be lured in by the mirroring of familiar brands, but (as long as they like hidden object games) they will probably be satisfied with their investment none the less. After developing and publishing nearly a hundred games over the last ten years, Artifex Mundi clearly have perfected their craft of making Hidden Object Games.