Review by Bkstunt_31
Searching for a fairy tale...
Remember those "Hidden Picture" books from when you were a kid, where clever artists would hide various objects inside a scene and you'd need to hunt them down? Fun times. This type of puzzle game has actually been in video games for years, albeit mainly restricted to the PC marketplace (due to, dare I say it... the more "Casual" fan base...). Polish Developer Artifex Mundi however has been re-releasing their back-catalog of titles to the PlayStation 4 recently, giving us console players something new to search for...
OK, bad puns aside, calling "Grim Legends: The Forsaken Bride" a "Hidden Picture" game is indeed the easiest way to categorize it, but at the same time it also does it a disservice. "Puzzle Game" is a more apt title, as throughout the game you'll not only be playing hidden picture games but also just figuring out puzzles in general. Picking up items, figuring out where to use them, working through environmental puzzles logically using the items at your disposal, encountering stand-alone puzzle mini-games... there's just a lot of different puzzle types in this game. I was pleasantly surprised when I saw just how many puzzles there was, in fact. Hidden pictures are all well and good, but variety is the spice of life!
Tying all of this together is the eponymous story of "The Forsaken Bride". You will play as a woman who is traveling to her twin sister's wedding, but as you arrive you and the wedding party will be constantly troubled by a giant bear, who seems to be targeting the unlucky bride. Figuring out why and helping your sister out is the driving force of the narrative.
Overall, the game's story will remind you of a classic fairy tale, and feels like it could come straight out of "The Brothers Grimm". While I enjoyed the overall story and plot twists that occurred, the tale really isn't too deep and generally just gives you an over-arching story as you jump from puzzle to puzzle. Suffice to say, if you're looking for a detailed narrative, this isn't the game for you.
If you're trying to scratch that puzzle itch however, this may very well be the game for you. We've already gone over the different variety of puzzles in the game, but let's go over the game play a little deeper. The point of doing most of the puzzles and hidden-picture segments is to obtain items which you'll end up using in certain areas to continue on. Knowing what to do or where to go can be tricky at times, so thankfully the game comes with a hint system to give you guidance should you need it. There's also two difficulty modes to choose from. Normal mode will make sparkles appear in the background after a certain amount of time to help you out while "Expert" mode does away with all sparkles and makes your hint timer recharge slower than normal. Between the two difficulty modes and a hint system that you control, every level of puzzle gamer should feel welcome here. The game also has a map to keep track of all the various areas you can visit, which also tells you if you have things you can do in those areas. The developer has really gone out of their way to make this a puzzle adventure that you really can't get stuck on (which is definitely appreciated).
The game's graphics are admittedly mostly static scenes, but you can tell the developers like to add the odd flair here and there. Using items will often make the item appear with a small animation and villagers and animals are often animated whenever they appear. There's also the rare animated scenes as you progress the story, although these are fairly standard. The artwork itself throughout the game is well-done however: even though these are static background scenes, they are detailed and look great.
The audio in the game however... is a bit more of a mixed bag. The actual music itself is good, when its playing. We're talking ambient, mostly relaxing music that is meant to be easy listening while your mind thinks of course, and it does its job well. The voice acting though is passable at best. The first time I hard the main character speak, I was just immediately put off as she sounded like the cliched "whiny ditzy valley girl". Not exactly the kind of voice you want to listen to all game long, but it did get better over time, although as I mentioned the voice acting is really nothing special.
After beating the main game, you'll unlock a "Bonus Chapter", which really acts like an epilogue and just gives you even more puzzles to solve (which is great, if you enjoyed what you've played so far!). The game also features a full trophy list including a platinum trophy, although that will require at least two play-throughs. The reason for that is because instead of solving the "hidden picture" puzzles throughout the game, you can instead opt to play a game of dominoes, completing chains of dominoes to cover pictures on the board until each picture has a domino on it (and thus, the two play-throughs of the game). Still, this is undoubtedly one of the easiest platinum trophies I've seen. Not "My Name is Mayo" easy, but easy.
In the end, if you enjoy puzzle games, Grim Legends: The Forsaken Bride may be right up your alley. With its variety of puzzle types, a fairy-tale story for some minor plot distraction, and a helpful hint system in place, this is a fairly easy game to recommend to any pure puzzle fan.
Rating: 3.5 - Good
Product Release: Grim Legends: The Forsaken Bride (US, 02/28/17)
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