Artifex Mundi, the undeniable rulers of the hidden object puzzle adventure genre, are at it again with their latest release, Grim Legends 2: Song of the Dark Swan. Grim Legends 2 is, for all intents and purposes, a sequel to Grim Legends: The Forsaken Bride, but if you missed out on that particularly title then you’re in no danger of being confused as Grim Legends 2 slips off into a completely different direction for its story. The only real holdover from the first Grim Legends is that the protagonist is the same well known Healer in this fantastical world. At the beginning of the game we learn the Healer has this time been summoned by a King in hopes of treating his beloved wife who has never spoken.
Players take control of the Healer shortly after she arrives at the King’s castle and is escorted to her guest room. This serves as a sort of tutorial area for the game where players will need to collect their belongings and use the needed pieces to arrange a mixing station where they can assemble a device they need to provide a check up for the Queen. Once this key item has been assembled, players may then go out to perform their examination on the Queen. Leaving the guest room puts players face to face with the Queen, her newborn prince, and the always dreaded mother in law. During the Healer’s examination of the Queen, she determines she is tired (What mom of a newborn isn’t, though?) and that she has an odd rash on her hands. She recommends rest for the Queen, who then retreats to her room. While the Healer then retreats to make a calming potion for the Queen (which probably should have been for the baby if the Queen needs sleep, but I digress…) so that she can finally relax. However, as this -is- a grim legend, there is no rest for the Queen and a ruckus occurs once she is in her room. The Healer breaks down her door to discover the Queen in an unconscious heap surrounded by candles and the newborn prince now missing.
The King’s mother declares that the Queen has been using forbidden dark magic and demands a fast tracked execution for her daughter in law. The King, while distraught, believes his mother and has his wife locked in a tower. At this point, it is up to the Healer to uncover what has really happened in an attempt to save the Queen who is still unable to speak or defend herself. The Healer will need to travel throughout the story book-esque kingdom, where each scene is even more fantastical than the one before it, and uncover useful items, solve puzzles, and even receive help from some unlikely assistants in order to uncover a story of love and betrayal.
As I said in the beginning, Artifex Mundi are the undisputed champions of point and click adventure games, and Grim Legends 2: Song of the Dark Swan stands out as one of the best titles for the genre they’ve released to date. Previous games from the developers had problems with character animations and voice overs not syncing properly (possibly due to the nature of translating for different languages) or the game stuttering during transitions between locations, but Grim Legends 2: Song of the Dark Swan does not seem to be affected by either of those issues. The game is notably polished, right down to the whimsical bonus chapter that allows players an extra glimpse into the lives of the Forest Sprites they will meet in the main campaign.
While Grim Legends 2 is a hidden object puzzle game, it is worth noting that this particular title does not rely as heavily on the hidden object scenes as other Artifex Mundi titles have in the past, choosing instead to focus more on combining objects to create potions and overcoming puzzles with what the Healer has at her disposal. This also means that there is not as much back and forth between scenes as what we’ve previously seen in these games. Additionally, the hidden object puzzles that are in the game can not be traded out for a mini game as was done in the past. This lowers the game’s ability to be replayed, unfortunately. That said, the low replay factor can be forgiven because Grim Legends 2: Song of the Dark Swan is so well done with its art style and attention to details that you’ll still enjoy every moment.