Fine, you caught me, I love Hidden Object games. Back when my mum and I both got a Kindle Fire, we went crazy stabbing at our screens for watering cans, sparrows and rusty belt buckles. One of our very favourites was Enigmatis: The Ghosts of Maple Creek. Combining Hidden Objects with conventional puzzles, a strong point and click element and a spooky murder mystery, Enigmatis, to this day, remains one the genre’s strongest titles. Now it’s on PS4 with a Platinum trophy, and it’s still bloody brilliant.
You play as a detective. You’ve been investigating the disappearance of a young girl, but after a terrible storm you’ve bashed your car into a tree and forgotten everything. Now you must re-investigate your case, piecing together what you once already knew. Can you solve the mystery before the walls and people of Maple Creek close in on you or will be stuck desperately searching for three plums and a barometer until the end of time itself?
For those who have never played a Hidden Object game before, the idea is to find a list of objects within a huge pile of junk. Sometimes it’s easy, sometimes you’ll get very cross because surely to god an elephant can’t be that difficult to find. I jest. Actually, Hidden Object games are quite relaxing. I’d liken them to doing a dot-to-dot or indulging in a spot of colouring. It’s restful fun. Obviously on a tablet you poke at the screen, but on the PS4 you have a large round cursor. It moves at a good speed and is big enough that you don’t have be too precise in its placement, taking anyway any risk of fiddlyness. The Hidden Object scenes are crystal clear, but you may need to get a little close to the screen if you’re going to find that elusive elephant. If you’re still stuck, the hint button will guide you to him and then you’ll feel like a bit of a wally.
In addition to rifling through many piles of rubbish just to get a tea strainer, the game also has more conventional puzzles such as moving tiles to create a picture (my most hated puzzle style of all time), lock-picking and safe-cracking. Some of the puzzles are easy, some a little harder, but all very doable. If you decide you don’t have the patience any more you can actually skip these puzzles.
Easily Enigmatis’ strongest element is the mystery of the missing girl. Explore the small town and find clues to piece together the investigation and jog your memory. Each scene will often have objects you can pick up, obstacles that need fathoming out and a big Hidden Object pile of trash to rifle through. You’ll need to return to each of these piles several times to get more and more required items as the game progresses. Need a crowbar to crack something open? Now which pile of rubbish was that in? If you’re on Normal mode, a trash pile will sparkle when it’s open for dumpster diving. In addition to this, any new items of interest or obstacles that can now be solved or progressed will also sparkle. If you’re still having difficulty, the hint button will guide you to the next place you need to be and your map will be marked where there is an action available. If you’d rather figure everything out by yourself you can play in Expert mode which will turn off all the sparkles and the map actions and make the hint button take a lot longer to recharge.
As you get closer to solving the mystery, you will build up a case wall. Here any clues you find can be arranged and examined. You’ll need to put evidence in the right place according to what you’ve found, what you know and what you think you might know, and then make a deduction that your detective will write down in her journal. It’s not hard, but it is fun.
Graphically, Enigmatis is a pretty game. The scenes look nice and have a spooky ambience. You’ll be tracking back and forth a great deal but the transitions between screens is superfast with absolutely no hanging about. There are a few cut scenes that look a bit fuzzy and it’s here that you get a reminder that this is an older game that’s been ported over and was never meant for a huge HD television. It’s certainly not a deal-breaker though, because if you’re playing Enigmatis, you’re not here for the stunning state-of-the-art graphics. You’re here for the feather and the scissors and the cunningly hidden outline of an elephant stamped on the side of a suitcase – gotcha!
Of course there is one other reason you might be here. You’re a trophy hunter. Enigmatis has twelve trophies, eleven of them all gold and one beautifully easy Platinum. You’ll need to finish the game on both Normal and Expert, complete all puzzles without skipping and all Hidden Object games without asking for a hint. The rest are even easier. It can all be done in a day. Actually we did it in two, but in our defence we started late and stopped to do a dot-to-dot and some colouring.
Enigmatis: The Ghosts of Maple Creek always was and always will be one of the greatest Hidden Object games ever made. Its secret is its great little investigative story and its spooky ambience. If that’s not enough, it’s a budget price for a very easy Platinum. Rejoice and enjoy.
S J Hollis Rating – 8/10
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