STAFF REVIEW of Queen's Quest 2: Stories of Forgotten Past (Xbox One)

Sunday, March 31, 2019.
by Adam Dileva

Queen's Quest 2: Stories of Forgotten Past Box art Artifex Mundi has no shortage of Hidden Object Games (HOG’s) in their ever expanding catalogue of titles. Over the past while, they’ve been bringing these relaxing puzzle games to Xbox One, and I’ve been hooked ever since the first I've played. There’s something relaxing about just sitting on the couch and not stressing about being shot or coming in first place, which is probably why I enjoy these titles so much, even if many of their titles are very similar.

Originally released almost two years ago, Queens Quest 2: Stories of Forgotten Past has finally made its way to Xbox One for fans like myself to enjoy. While I keep up on Artifex Mundi releases, I wondered if somehow the first in the series passed me by without me noticing, but alas, it hasn’t yet come out for my console of choice for some reason. Nevertheless, you don’t need to have played the first to make sense of the second, as it seems it’s only a sequel in name, not so much in its narrative. Plus, with this genre, you’re generally playing for the puzzles and gameplay and not so much its story.

There has been some evil killings in the land as of late, and the only solution the King can seem to come up with is to hire you, an alchemist, to investigate and solve the mystery. Being the alchemist you are, you have knowledge of potion crafting that allows you to shapeshift into animals and provide other feats of supernatural origins. Of course, this main key plot point is only the beginning, and twists will come as you meet Robin Hood, Little Red Riding Hood and even Hansel and Gretel. While the narrative wasn’t anything exciting, it was the gameplay that kept me interested until the end.

If you’re like me and have played numerous Artifex Mundi titles already, nothing really has changed and you’ll know exactly what to expect. For those new to the genre or their catalogue of HOG’s, you’ve got to solve numerous puzzles, find hidden objects and craft potions that will allow you to progress further when there’s a barrier in your way. You’re going to be collecting numerous, and seemingly random, items along the way, but every item has a purpose in some small way, allowing you to solve the next obstruction.

The last few titles have introduced an alchemy portion of gameplay, and it’s just as prevalent here in Queen’s Quest 2. Being an alchemist, obviously that’s where your bread and butter is at, as you’ll need to craft specific potions with the instructions placed in front of you. How you get these new recipes isn’t ever really explained, but I just went with it and didn’t question too much. These potions once crafted will allow you to shapeshift, essentially bringing you to the next area or act of the story. None of these elixirs are difficult to make, as you have instructions right in front of you, and you won’t even be prompted to do so until you’re at a specific point and have all of the required items.

I really enjoyed these parts only because it means I was going to usually get to talk to some animals. Yup, you’re going to be able to converse with a hamster and a snail, which funny enough, I liked much more than any of the humans. How this is explained, again, I don’t really question and just went along with it.

Most of the gameplay will come from searching for random items across many scenes which will allow you to eventually solve a puzzle once you have the required parts. Most of the hidden object puzzles will give you a list of items to find, but what I’ve noticed that has changed in this title specifically is that the hidden objects are actually hidden behind other items. This means that scowering the scene for the items on your list won’t do any good, instead, you’ll need to move and combine items to find your desired ones. This results in a lot more button spamming rather than a sharp and keen eye. Not all of the HOG’s are like this, but it felt as if there was much more than I was used to in previous titles.

There are other traditional puzzles as well, but there aren’t nearly as many as I’m used to. Some will have you matching tiles, fixing a windowed artwork and a couple of other types, none of which were terribly difficult, though there always is the hint option available to you should you become stuck at any point, allowing you to completely skip a puzzle if you become too frustrated and want to progress.

Visually the background drawings are beautiful and vibrant, full of color, fitting the fantasy setting, and the soundtrack is calming and appropriate for this type of adventure. The voice over work used to be Artifex Mundi’s Achilles heel, and while it’s not great, it was decent, much better than previous titles where it was atrocious.

While the gameplay will only last you 2-3 hours, depending on your puzzle prowess and knowledge of Artifex Mundi titles, including the short bonus epilogue, once again I did enjoy my time with it, even if it’s a lot more of the same that I’ve become accustomed to. It seems there’s been two more Queen’s Quest titles released, so here’s to hoping that we’ll get to experience those sequels shortly as well, as I had a calming time with this one, even if it wasn’t their best offering.

Overall: 7.8 / 10
Gameplay: 8.0 / 10
Visuals: 8.0 / 10
Sound: 7.5 / 10


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