STAFF REVIEW of Lost Grimoires: Stolen Kingdom (Xbox One)


Wednesday, May 3, 2017.
by Adam Dileva

Lost Grimoires: Stolen Kingdom Box art It seems developer Artifex Mundi has found their stride releasing their catalog of titles on Xbox One, both new and old, seemingly having a new one to play almost every month. It feels like it has only been a few weeks since I reviewed their last release, and here we are with their newest release, Lost Grimoires: Stolen Kingdom. I’ve been a fan of Artifex Mundi since their first Xbox One port, so I’m always excited to try out the newest game from them, as I find their Hidden Object Games (HOG’s) a nice relaxing distraction from my normal gaming regiment.

While I love enjoying my time with the genre that Artifex Mundi has single handedly brought back to consoles, Lost Grimoires: Stolen Kingdom simply doesn’t feel as complete or as special as their previous titles, even though this is one of the newest titles in their catalog. Something just feels missing even though some new things were introduced, and tried, in this latest game.

Lost Grimoires tells a story about a young alchemist who is raised by a caregiver after being orphaned as a young child. Your caregiver, whom you call uncle, is a powerful alchemist and has shown you everything you know about becoming a great alchemist of your own. The heroine has finally returned home only to find a masked thief has broken into her house before she is knocked unconscious. There’s a magic amulet involved, a mystery surrounding your parents, and maybe your caregiver isn’t the person whom you thought him to be. From here you’ll experience a tale full of clues and puzzles as you uncover the truth to what’s really going on and what happened to your parents.


Many of the plot points you’ll see coming a mile away, and I found the character development really lacking this time around. I didn’t really care much about the protagonist, and the villains motives are never really explained aside from him thinking it’s what needs to be done. Normally I can finish each Artifex Mundi HOG in a single sitting after a few hours, but Lost Grimoires seemed to be over very quickly, much more so than their other titles. All of their games have an unlockable bonus chapter, but that’s not included here, so the replyability aside, from missing achievements and a harder difficulty level, is quite low.

If you’ve played any HOG’s before, you’ll already be familiar with the general mechanics and layout of the gameplay. The art is beautifully hand painted, and while the animation is quite lacking, the visuals have their own distinct style which I can appreciate. You’ll progress across a number of scenes throughout your journey, solving puzzles and collecting items as you go. Each item you collect will allow you to progress further in another scene elsewhere, most of the time, so there’s a little jumping back and forth between scenes. Luckily the game map allows you to quick jump from one area to another instantly, so that you don’t need to navigate each scene manually.

Unlike many of their previous titles, there’s not as much collecting of items in Lost Grimoires, as each item you procure will be used almost immediately after. In previous games there were items you needed to collect a certain amount of before being able to solve specific puzzles, and while that is included here, it’s nowhere near as much as previous games. There’s also not much backtracking or scene jumping compared to other titles, so that could be a positive or negative depending on your viewpoint. I personally liked not having to jump between scenes so often (and the instant map travel helps greatly), but it sure did cut down the overall play time. The map is handy, as it will show you where you are and what areas have a puzzle that needs completing provided you’re playing on casual difficulty, as expert won’t give you hints.

Given that these games are classified as Hidden Object Games, you’d think that this would be a primary focus on the puzzles within, but it felt like Lost Grimoires had the least amount of them compared to other titles for the developer. Maybe it’s just the overall shortness of the game, but it really felt as if there was only a handful of HOG’s to complete.


There has also been a conscious decision to remove an alternative game to skip through some of the HOG’s that the rest of the other titles have always used. This was a way to play a different type of mini-game in lieu of completing the classic HOG style of puzzle. I always preferred to play the HOG myself, but it seems like an odd exclusion. There’s even a few HOG’s that instead of giving you a checklist of items to find, you’re given riddles to solve instead, where the answer is the item you need to find. This is an interesting change and much more challenging, but even I had to resort to spamming the ‘A’ button across the scene when I became stumped.

There’s an option to get hints, and even completely skip puzzles if you become stuck and frustrated, an inclusion that I never had to rely on in previous games until now. These 'skips' will automatically complete the puzzle for you, and while the overall difficulty didn’t seem much more difficult than previous titles, for some reason I had a lot of troubles with one of the types of puzzles, forcing me to rely on the skip here and there. It’s a great option to have when it’s needed so that anyone can experience the whole game, regardless of skill.

The biggest addition Lost Grimoires is the inclusion of an alchemy mechanic. Throughout your journey you’ll concoct more than a dozen different potions from collected items, each with a different and specific use to progress the narrative. Along your adventure you’ll find specific items that aren’t used for puzzles, but instead are ingredients, simply used to create a specific potion. Once you find all of the recipe’s ingredients you’ll mix them together then need to solve a puzzle to complete the potion brew. These mini-games revolve around rotating some gears with colored orbs, tasking you with creating a specific pattern. These begin out simple enough, but become much more difficult near the end, which is what I needed to rely on the hint system for.


It’s not a groundbreaking mechanic, as you’re simply collecting items which then gives you a quick puzzle to solve, but it feels new to the genre. I simply wish there was more depth to it, as once you create the potion it’s obvious that’s what you need to use next to progress, and there’s no making potions twice, as you’re always working on a new recipe after completing the previous.

While the Artifex Mundi games have never been known for their great voice acting, Lost Grimoires seems tobe the worst of the batch, in my opinion. None of the lines are delivered in a believable way, which is probably why I didn’t end up caring about the characters in any way. While I still enjoyed distracting myself from my regular games for a few hours with Lost Grimoires’ puzzles, the story was very predictable.

Maybe it’s the onslaught of releases, or genre fatigue, but Lost Grimoires simply felt as if something was lacking compared to their other titles, which I really enjoyed each time. If you’re looking for a quick distraction and want some puzzles to solve, you could do worse though. Given its cheap price point it still garners a recommendation from myself, a self-proclaimed HOG expert, even if it isn’t as great as their other titles.




Overall: 6.9 / 10
Gameplay: 7.0 / 10
Visuals: 8.0 / 10
Sound: 5.5 / 10

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