Dark Arcana: The Carnival is the latest point & click title on Xbox One from Developers Artifex Mundi. You’ll explore two planes of existence while searching for a missing woman lost in a Carnival of Horrors. Check out our review below to see if Dark Arcana: The Carnival should make your games list..
Artifex Mundi have brought yet another of their stellar point and click adventure titles to the Xbox One. Dark Arcana: The Carnival begins innocently enough. A young girl and her mother, Susan, are enjoying a day at the carnival together when Susan mysteriously becomes separated from her daughter. Our protagonist, an unnamed lady Detective, arrives at the scene to help solve the case. The carnival is bright and busy with neon lights and people buzzing about, despite appearing a bit dilapidated.
The carnival’s manager is not in anyway willing to help your investigation, running from the Detective and creating obstacles in her path whenever possible. Solving the puzzles the manager leaves in his wake leads the Detective to uncover an alternative reality known only as the Mirror World, where the brightly lit carnival she arrived at originally is flipped into a version of itself that is even more eroded and disheveled, coated in the green hue of a spooky mist, with writhing black vines snaking throughout. The Mirror World brings a series of plot twists and turns to Dark Arcana: The Carnival that ultimately culminate into creating one of the best and most intriguing stories Artifex Mundi has brought to the Xbox One to date.
While the story behind Dark Arcana: The Carnival is intriguing, the hidden object puzzles for this particular Artifex Mundi title pale in comparison to some of its predecessors. The hidden object puzzles are fewer in quantity in Dark Arcana, and often have the player searching for duplicated lists of items repeatedly. This is a step back from what we expect to experience in Artifex Mundi’s HOPs. While having players go back to the same HOP zones is the norm, we usually see an updated list of items to sift through in order to collect the key items that we need to advance. While its a shame that this corner was cut in Dark Arcana, there is the option to replace a hidden object puzzle with a card matching game, called Monaco, instead. Players do have the ability to switch back and forth between Monaco and hidden object puzzles on the fly, making an already easy to manage puzzle even easier.
Dark Arcana: The Carnival offers 3D animated cut scenes but it is not one of the smoothest experiences, with character models occasionally skewing awkwardly at times. This is most often evident with the helper monkey (Yes, the Detective has a helper monkey!) when he is used to solve a puzzle. Dark Arcana is also fully voice acted, and while the acting is perfectly sufficient, it is obvious that the animation for the character’s mouths do not sync with the audio at times. Despite its flaws, Dark Arcana: The Carnival is perfectly enjoyable experience that will leave fans of Artifex Mundi games anticipating future adventures into other Mirror Worlds.