Nightmares from the Deep: A Cursed Heart is a point-and-click hidden-object adventure game developed by Artifex Mundi. The game has been previously released for Steam and iOS/Android users but now has made it's way to consoles. As the curse of a once living pirate comes to life inside of a museum, a series of events leads the museum's curator (the main protagonist) to set forth on a mission to save her daughter from his unruly custody. Uncover secrets and lost love affairs while exploring places like the pirate ship, skull island, and museum.
When the remains of Captain Henry Remington, a feared 18th-century pirate, are found on the bottom of the Caribbean Sea during an open ocean dive, locale museum curator Sarah Black gets to put it all on display. On a dark, cold, and stormy night, she is hard at work preparing the new additions in the pirate exhibit. An exhibit that is expected to be a bigger hit with tourists than ever before. Banners hanging from the lobby of the museum reading "The Most Fearsome Pirate in the World. Grand Opening Soon." This is when everything goes wrong.
As Captain Henry Remington's dead (and cursed) corpse is essentially resurrected, he kidnaps the curator's daughter. Later to be explained for his own greedy interests (more details to be uncovered in the actual game). Sarah jumps into high gear to track him down on the deserted Skull Island and return her daughter to safety, but must first overcome the challenges within places like the Museum, Skull Island, the Pirate Ship, and much more.
For starters, the game acts as almost an animated novel, playing out over a series of very aesthetically pleasing and sharp pictures, with many cutscenes linking environments together. You won't have to worry about physically walking around or any kind of quick reacting actions. The cutscenes, while not exactly overpowering , do a great job at progressing the story and breaking up repetitiveness with the pictures and puzzles. They are smooth and very well graphically designed. This form of animation was extremely pleasant to watch and is unseen in many other games/genres.
The gameplay itself involves solving puzzles, riddles, and clue-based adventuring. You are given a good sized white outline of a circle to point and click on anything of interest. Sometimes it'll be small almost meaningless things, but other times will allow you to work on a puzzle, collect an item, change rooms, or better understand what you're looking for elsewhere. You have to do a little bit of centering what you wish to click on especially in the search picture puzzles, but otherwise very smooth and efficient.
Puzzles, for the most part, include the standard searching throughout a picture to find hidden objects, but you can also play a matching game of small pictures on dice, a game known as Mahjong (shown above) with just a click of a button if you find the hidden object puzzles to be not your flavor of puzzles. In between these, though, you'll often find randomly designed puzzles with unique twists which prevent the game from ever feeling stagnant.
There are two difficulty options to choose from: casual and hardcore. The lesser challenging difficulty allows for the game to offer hints as to what to do, and the later offering nothing for guidance. If you're unfamiliar with this genre of games, hardcore difficulty can be incredibly challenging. It's also worth noting that when playing on a casual difficulty you are given a few freebies, as far as clues, which can be appreciated when stuck in a certain area not knowing what's next to progress everything. A playthrough could be anywhere from 2.5 to 6 hours depending on difficulty, time it takes to find what you need to find, and thoroughness of your searching for clues. The bonus chapter adds roughly an hour more of gameplay.
Graphics and Sound
As previously mentioned, the game has a fun and spooky way of telling the story. The animated cutscenes and gameplay complement the story and vice versa. There is a grey area though for some conversations and character movements. Sometimes things are not in the still picture but not quite full cutscene material. During these times, the character may talk with an awkward lip movement that doesn't match everything they're saying. Understanding these times fall under the mentioned grey area of animation but will still offer the appreciation for the developers' choice. They could have easily put still pictures of the characters and had them talking with no attempt of lip movements or even worse, they could have made the dialog purely in text format.
Overall the game is, in my opinion, extremely fun and refreshing. There is not a lot of options regarding the hidden object point-and-click genre for the consoles, so it is a very welcomed addition to the digital library. The story while not all that perfectly original, is well thought out and depicted in gorgeous animated-novel fashion. It offers some replay value – especially if you are a trophy/achievement hunter or just wish to test your skills on the harder difficulty. I found myself encouraged to play through it a second time just due to my personal enjoyment. Included DLC for an additional and relevant bonus chapter is a nice touch too.
|+ One of very few point-click games on consoles||– Unmatched lip sync outside of cutscenes|
|+ Crisp and vibrant environments||– Could have more complex hidden objects|
|+ Excellent adventure/story|
|+ Explorable areas avoid feeling confined to pictures|