Playing a HOG is like watching a B-movie. You go in with particular expectations. If you haven’t played more than two HOGS in your life, you might just consider these expectations low, or uncomplicated. On the surface, that’s probably fair, but there is a bit more to it than that.
HOGS (used to) have a reputation of being.. samey. In the early days, it was schlock, serving rehashed plots and puzzles that were simplistic and convoluted at the same time. Even though production values have significantly increased, some of these elements seem to have solidified into genre tropes.
That isn’t as bad as it sounds. To be more precise: it is bad, but in a way that could be considered both harmless and entertaining. Emblematic, rather than problematic.
Which brings me to the question of expectations.
“..Just give your opinion on the game”, I hear you say. But please, fellow person, hear me out.
We play HOGS in this household because they are casual and fun to play together. They’re both weird and conventional and that is actually an interesting line to skate! It’s not just familiarity, or a comfort in repetition, with just enough variation to see you through. It’s not an off brand low aiming time killer. There’s a balance between puzzles and hidden object scenes, plots finding a place between cursory and convoluted. It’s a finer craft than you might imagine.
Like a good B-movie, a HOG should keep you engaged, there should be some kind of story that stays on track until the end. It should neither be vapid nor conceited. This is where B-movies and HOGS differ from media that is actually bad, or “so bad it’s good”. The experience is an amusement ride. It might brake and accelerate, but overal, it should run smoothly and it shouldn’t derail.
“Is this a review or a half-baked essay on HOGS?” Dear reader, it’s probably the latter, but apparently this was just something I really wanted to talk about. Thank you for being so accommodating. I will get to the game, right now.
The Enigmatis series as a whole is great. The Mists of Ravenwood stands out in the pack. The locations are beautiful, Ravenwood Park is quite an interesting place and for a HOG, there’s a lot to investigate! You get an evidence board, kind of a string of puzzles that tie directly into the plot. There are nice variations on the traditional Hidden Object Scene and they fit into the story and locations in rather creative ways. The characters are all distinct and just well defined enough to carry the plot. And the plot is.. amazing.
That might be a stretch, I admit. It’s not Wadjet Eye quality. But it shouldn’t be. It just hits all the right notes. There’s sleuthing, cool characters, action and emotions! There’s a haunted park, a mysterious figure and an incredible antagonist. You can see most of it coming a mile away, but that is part of the charm.
Enigmatis: The Mists of Ravenwood just does it right. It’s by the book, but the book is well written. And by that I don’t mean the dialogue, which is.. very HOG. The descriptions of items and environments are actually pretty good, though. But I digress.
Sorry. Where was I? Oh yes, the book of HOG, that dictates style and structure of every Artifex Mundi and AM-adjacent enterprise. This game knows that book, but it also knows: The Spirit, Not the Letter. Getting that right can lead to an actually memorable game.
Just one warning: there are some low-key horror/thriller elements. I’m not sure if they warrant any trigger warnings, just a heads up to warn people who don’t mess with that stuff at all.
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Time Played: 5-10 hours