7.5
Our overall verdict "bronze"

Not all games have to be stress-charged, multiplayer, blow-your-enemies-legs-off, high-blood-pressure-inducing slaughter fests. There’s room on the PS4 and in our hearts for something a little slower and a lot more relaxing. The spate of Hidden Object adventure puzzlers from Artifex Mundi continues with Dark Arcana: The Carnival. Although a great deal weirder and more twisted than we’re used to, Dark Arcana is more of the same brilliantly casual gameplay that we know and love.

During a visit to an already creepy looking carnival, a mother and child are separated. In a break from the norm, it’s actually the mother who disappears without a trace. As the investigating detective called to the scene, it’s your job to enter the carnival and find the missing woman.

Dark Arcana is part adventure, puzzler and hidden objects, and there’s a good balance of each. There are lots of different areas of the carnival to point and click your way around with plenty of conundrums to solve along the way. In fact, as the game progresses something happens that I won’t spoil but does open the game up into an even bigger and weirder play area. Transitioning between all these screens is quick and frustration-free with no loading screens to slow you down. The Artifex Mundi games are well known for being easy, but there is an Expert Mode if you want to toughen up the experience a little. This mode will take away the map indicators, slow the hint button recharge and remove the sparkly veil from the hidden object piles.

The puzzles aren’t too taxing this time around, but they are full of variety and generally lots of fun. If you do find yourself stuck on one, there is a skip facility, but I can’t see that you’ll need to use it all that much. Brace yourself for a shooting gallery, building a snake, tuning a television and fixing a jukebox to name just a few.

Of course no hidden object game would be complete without the mandatory hidden objects. The hidden object scenes (HOS) are fairly basic this time around with very little variety in their formula. Find the objects from a written list – that’s about it. Disappointing? Hmm, maybe a little. But I’m not going to whinge because honestly I could sit all day, all week, all month, all year finding objects from a written list. It’s still great fun.

Visually, Dark Arcana does a smashing little job. It’s not stunning in the graphical department and it’s perhaps more obviously a mobile port than previous games, but it’s still pretty nice and the carnival looks super creepy. The puzzles and the HOS all look as gorgeous as ever and to top things off you have a fuzzy little monkey to jump out of your UI and help you out. Awww.

To all you trophy hunters out there, Dark Arcana does indeed have a very easy platinum. You’ll need two playthroughs, one on Normal and one on Expert, and on one of those playthroughs you’ll need to play games of Monaco instead of the HOS. With or without a guide you can ping that plat in a day.

Conclusion

Dark Arcana: The Carnival is a solid point and click adventure puzzler. If you love these Hidden Object games or you’re just looking for something easy to relax with, you really can’t go wrong. Yet another little gem from Artifex Mundi.

S J Hollis Rating – 7.5/10

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S J Hollis

S J Hollis has been a keen gamer since the Atari 2600. She freely admits she thought E.T. was a good game but would like to stress her tastes have since dramatically improved. She is also an author, a morning person and thinks Elf ears are sexy. Follow her on twitter @SJHollis_