Deadly Puzzles: Toymaker HD in Review: Not Your Children’s Playthings

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If I mention the likes of Big Fish Games or G5 Entertainment you’ll know what I’m talking about in an instant, especially if you’re a hidden object game fan.  Artifex Mundi, on the other hand, might not ring any bells.  If it doesn’t you should look them up, because their iOS games have received some of my highest accolades where hidden object / adventure games are concerned.  Knowing that, it shouldn’t come as much of a surprise that I was excited to see them start publishing under their own moniker on the App Store.  I finally had the chance to check out one of their titles, Deadly Puzzles: Toymaker, and it’s fair to say I couldn’t put it down (well, except when I had to go to work).  It wasn’t quite what I was expecting, as it forgoes the now standard object puzzle elements for a straight hidden object / mini game combo, but it just goes to show that in the right hands such a combination still works.  With this as an example I can’t wait to dig into more of their iOS titles.

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In this game you taken on the role of a detective that is tasked with tracking down a serial killer that likes to taunt you with videos and leave puzzle boxes at the crime scenes.  The narrative plays out through the videos the killer leaves as well as through case files that are presented to you each time you arrive at a new location.  I like the pacing of the story, and the overall context feels like something out of Criminal Minds which just happens to be one of my favorite procedurals.  Unfortunately you never get to confront any of the witnesses or suspects directly, but there’s still enough background presented to keep you coming back until you solve the mystery of who your adversary is.  The main letdown here is that after all your work the ending is a bit weak.

The main interface for the game is your office.  Go to the TV to rewatch any videos you’ve collected.  Of course one wonders who still uses video tapes these days, but that’s okay.  On the desk you’ll find the latest puzzle box you have to open, so if there’s nothing there you better get searching a crime scene.  The crime scenes are accessed via photos pinned to a map of the city.  Every crime scene is a hidden object scene, and while there are occasionally items that require you to open things or put two parts together to collect them, there really aren’t any object based puzzles per se.  The first scene for each segment provides you with a puzzle box, and the rest of the scenes give you the missing pieces required to open that box.  Of course once you have all the pieces you’ll still have to play a mini-game to open the box.  After enough time you get the option to skip the mini-game, but on the casual setting I never had the need to do that.

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There are 13 achievements to earn if you care about that sort of thing in this type of game, though in what I consider a cheap move two of the achievements revolve around completing the game in expert mode, so if you’re more of a casual type of player you’ll need to go through the game twice in order to get all of the achievements.  My main concern with this game was that I would lose interest after a while because of the lack of object based puzzles, especially given how so many of Artifex Mundi’s prior offerings seemed to focus on that aspect of game play.  However, the game played at a quick enough pace and the desire to find out who the culprit was kept me intrigued enough that I never really missed the object based puzzle aspect of the game play.

Aesthetically, I didn’t feel like Toymaker quite lived up to previous games I have played that bear the Artifex Mundi logo.  That being said, the game still looks pretty sharp.  The hidden object scenes are nicely detailed, though sometimes objects are hidden a bit too well because you can’t really make out what they are based on the small portions that are visible.  The puzzle boxes always looked pretty cool, but the video clues were somewhat inconsistent.  Some were nicely drawn, while others seemed a bit stiff and cartoony.  The sound effects were pretty standard hidden object game fare, but the voiceovers were well done.  I really enjoyed the music, which had the necessary sinister tone to accentuate the toymaker’s murderous ways.  I especially liked it when they threw in a bit of what I would call carnival style or maybe even ice cream truck overtones blended with the background music.

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For a non-object puzzle based game with no collector’s edition style bonuses, I was quite pleased with Deadly Puzzles: Toymaker.  The game was well paced and there was enough to do that I didn’t feel jilted when it came to an end.  I’m glad to see that Artifex Mundi has branched out on their own, at least in the mobile arena, as now maybe they’ll get a bit more name recognition in the hidden object game arena.  And if this product is indicative of their current and forthcoming mobile catalog, that recognition will be coming.

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App Summary
Title: Deadly Puzzles: Toymaker HD (Full)Developer: Artifex Mundi sp. z o.o.
Reviewed Ver:1.0Min OS Req: iOS 5.1.1
Price:$4.99App Size:192.85MB
  • Well paced, Criminal Minds like story
  • Plenty of crime scenes to search
  • Puzzle boxes were reasonable and not frustrating
  • Nice visuals
  • Good music and voiceovers
  • No object based puzzles
  • Ending was disappointing

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