STAFF REVIEW of Eventide: Slavic Fable (Xbox One)

Saturday, October 8, 2016.
by Adam Dileva

Eventide: Slavic Fable Box art I’m really glad that developer Artifex Mundi has decided to publish their games on the Xbox One, as they have a huge catalogue of hidden object games (HOG’s) that they are in the process of bringing to console gamers. I didn’t know that I would enjoy these types of games as much as I do until I gave them a fair chance, but I’m glad I did, as I get to sit back and enjoy a few hours of stress free gaming. Eventide: Slavic Fable is the third game from Artifex Mundi that I’ve now played, and I figured that I would grow tiresome of the same gameplay mechanics by now, but I haven't. I seem to enjoy them more with every new title that comes our way, but the question remains: "Can they keep the quality continuous and prevent staleness from setting in?" Let’s find out.

Eventide places you in the role of Mary, a botanist who receives a letter from her grandmother one day out of the blue inviting her to visit and save a rare plant. Mary doesn't get many letters from her anymore, so she knows it’s serious and decides to make a visit. As you arrive you’re attacked by a massive bat-looking creature, only to find that your grandmother is then kidnapped in front of your eyes. To get her back you’ll need to befriend the creatures of Slavic origins in attempt to save her.

I won’t delve much more into the story, as it’s not terribly long, but it has just enough narrative to string you along from puzzle to puzzle while managing to stay fairly interesting. Some of the characters you come across are cute, while others are simply there to lengthen gameplay with odd quests, like fixing someone’s bathroom pipe so they can shower. I don’t know if it’s because I’m getting better at these types of games or not, but the overall journey felt much shorter compared to the last two titles of theirs I’ve reviewed, as I completed it in a single sitting without any troubles at all on normal mode.

If you haven't played an Artifex Mundi HOG based puzzle titles before, it essentially revolves around finding an item which allows you to open an object to obtain another item that you’ll need to solve the next puzzle. Rinse and repeat. On paper it sounds basic and shallow, but there’s many scenes to explore, with bonus collectible items to find along the way as well. Sometimes you’ll simply need to find a certain item while other times you’ll have to solve a convoluted puzzle or you’ll be given a shopping list of items to find in a crowded and messy scene before being granted access to progress further.

Normal mode gives you an option to use a hint if you become stuck, and it can either point you in the right direction to go (though the map shows you what areas you have puzzles to complete) or it blatantly shows you what you need to click next. Expert mode takes away much of the hint system and doesn’t have items glow, making for a bigger challenge, especially if it’s your first time playing. I found that I didn’t need to rely on the hint system even once during my playthrough, but it’s a welcome addition for those that might need it so they don't become frustrated. Oddly enough, Eventide doesn’t include an alternate game to play like the previous games that they have released on the Xbox One, where you could play dominoes or mahjong.

For veterans of Artifex Mundi’s titles, you can expect more of the same. Eventide follows the same template, almost to a fault, as you’re only given the items you’ll need just before you need them. What is new though are the two sets of collectibles hidden throughout. Keep an eye out for Bestiary Cards, as these will unlock background lore of each of the creatures in Eventide in the bonus section of the main menu. They are strictly optional to find and aren’t part of the core game, but it was interesting to read more lore about creatures that crossed my path once I found them. There are also Ethereal Flowers that glow and can be collected, but these don’t serve any purpose aside from unlocking achievements.

Just like their previous titles, the artwork is great as always, though I suspect this might be one of their earlier games, simply because the animation didn’t look as smooth or as sharp as the previous titles that I reviewed. Following suit is the average soundtrack and simply “ok” voice acting. Usually the voice acting is passable, but it didn’t seem to be nearly as believable in Eventide. I’m not sure if it’s the writing or different actors, but it difference from past games was noticeable.

Just like their previous games released on the Xbox One, developer Artifex Mundi's Eventide: Slavic Fable is a great ‘filler’ game when you grow tired of the glut of AAA titles or simply need a break and want to try something different. The dev-team has nailed the formula, almost to the point where each game seems to use a default template but they edit it with new characters and vary the puzzles slightly. Even so, I’ve yet to grow tired of the tried and true gameplay formula. If you are looking for a casual game to play or just want something to relax while playing, look at Eventide: Slavic Fable, or any of their other HOG titles; there’s no better developer currently bringing this genre to consoles.

Overall: 7.8 / 10
Gameplay: 9.0 / 10
Visuals: 7.5 / 10
Sound: 6.0 / 10


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