Grim Legends 2: Song of the Dark Swan Review

A re-telling of an old fairy tale

Posted by B1ueSeptember   15th June 2017

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Artifex Mundi will soon release their latest ID@Xbox title on the Xbox One. Grim Legends 2: Song of the Dark Swan is based on the fairy tale of “The Six Swans” and follows the developer’s much-loved formula of solving puzzles and finding hidden objects. So, how does their latest title hold up to player expectation?

"The Six Swans” has had many iterations, but the basic story is that a family’s children are cursed by their step-mother. The brothers are all turned into swans, and their sister can say nothing or risk making the curse permanent. She has seven years to make them sweaters of nettles, a plant that stings whoever handles it. In the meantime, she marries and has a baby. When the child is kidnapped, she goes to the stake, still knitting away, unwilling to speak even to save herself. In the end, the truth comes out, the curse is broken, mother and child are saved, and everyone lives happily ever after.

Artifex Mundi takes this premise and puts their own touch on it. You play the game as a healer. You’ve been called to the castle by the king in hopes you can cure his wife’s muteness. Shortly after your arrival, the baby prince disappears and the young queen is to be burned for witchcraft. The king begs you to find proof of his wife’s innocence before it’s too late. Thus begins your search for the truth.

The first thing you’ll notice about this game is that it’s beautiful. This developer is known for beautiful artwork, but I found this title particularly pretty. The swans that are woven into almost every part of the game are lovely. The young queen’s snow white hair makes her a striking character, but she’s also plainly a sad person. Despite her inability to speak, her heartbreak is clear. As you begin your investigation, you’ll travel through numerous gorgeous environs, uncovering more of the queen’s tortured past with each place you visit.

You may play the game in Casual Mode, which doesn’t penalize you for wrong guesses, or Expert Mode. You find clues and items you need by solving hidden items puzzles, which take a couple of forms. The standard presents a jumbled scene from which you must find all the items on the list presented with the puzzle. The second form is more specific. You must find the silhouetted objects and use them in the proper places to unlock the next item needed to proceed.

The hidden objects puzzles generally provide you with a needed item. Other types of puzzles must be solved to continue forward. For example, you may have to do a moving tile puzzle to unlock a door or solve a maze to open a secret compartment and receive a key. The game includes a nice variety of puzzles, all of which can be solved with a little thought and a bit of patience. The puzzles are fun with enough challenge to invoke thought but not so hard that you want to gnash your teeth, and if you do get in trouble, you always have the option to get a hint or skip a puzzle. The developers keep a nice balance here to make the game entertaining throughout.

The game also has Healers Sigils to collect, another form of hide and seek. The sigil is hidden somewhere in almost every room/location of the game, and it can take some searching to find them all. It might be etched faintly into a room’s ceiling or made of vines in the midst of the forest. You really have to search for some of these, which is fun for the fan of the hidden item puzzle.

Despite the game’s beautiful environs and fun puzzles, however, the game is very dark. I won’t spoil the story, but I will say that far too many people die in this game, and they die unnecessarily. Instead of killing them, the developers could have just as easily put them in the same situations but let them survive. I was shocked by the first death and quite saddened by the others. Even when you break the curse at the end of the game, there is no happy ending; too many have died along the way.

The ending brings me to my second complaint – there is no ending. At the end of your journey, there should be nice wrap-up to the story. Here, there is none. You get a thank you, and the game is over. With all that gorgeous artwork, they could have made us an appropriate ending to the story, not just cut it off at the end like that.

The achievements are nicely varied. Most of them will be picked up in the natural progression of the game, many story-related. The ones that require a bit more effort are to finish the game using no hints and finishing all mini-games with no skips. You will have to complete puzzles in a certain amount of time or with few mistakes. After you finish the main game, a new chapter becomes available, and a couple of the achievements come from finishing the extra content.

All in all, Grim Legends 2: Song of the Dark Swan is a beautiful, enjoyable game. Of all the Artifex Mundi games on the Xbox (and I’ve played them all), this one is the prettiest and most enjoyable game-wise, but it’s also one of the saddest. Even the Grimm Brothers gave this story a happy ending, but not so here. This Grim Legend is a bit too grim.

Score: 8 out of 10

Price: $9.99
Release Date: June 23, 2017
Platform: Xbox One

Written by B1ueSeptember

    Kyuubi Alpha 15 Jun 2017 12:08 pm

    Cant wait for this game to come out, have always liked this developer scince they started to port all of their games over to the xbox lets hope they do all 30+ games that i believe makes up their whole collection to date.

      Administrator Stealth David 15 Jun 2017 07:13 pm

      Least you got the bonus chapter back ;)

        News Editor B1ueSeptember 15 Jun 2017 08:21 pm

        Yes, indeed. I love their games, too. :)

          cnirvana 16 Jun 2017 06:48 am

          Sounds great! Can't wait to play this, just need to catch up on a few other titles first. No excuse as all of his titles are one sitting completions. Just an uncooperative work schedule for me. The colors in this look beautiful in your screenshots.

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