Women are the most effective detectives, greyhounds or lie detectors on the planet. From the classic lipstick that blemishes men’s shirts and up to any unfamiliar smell inside the conjugal bedroom, they can speculate and detect with an amazing accuracy if any deer has walked on your meadows or even messed your sheets. For these reasons, game developers had no reservations in offering important roles to women, roles illustrating both their talents and their famous female instinct.
That’s why it’s easy to name some famous characters, like Nancy Drew (the detective from the homonym series), Kate Walker (Syberia) or Victoria McPherson (the agent from Still Life), all of which successfully completed the quests they were faced with in their adventures.
This time around, our heroine is Nina Kalenkov and she is famous for solving the mystery regarding the disappearance of her father in Secret Files: Tunguska and she has now returned on her fans’ computers in the most dangerous adventure of her life so far. However, I must point out that Max, the girl’s partner from the first episode, had his undeniable merit in solving the previous riddle.
Only the pure will survive
The action in Secret Files of 2: Puritas Cordis continues the storyline of its predecessor, following from where the roads of our protagonists had split in two different directions. Max, who is now a photographer, is exploring the Indonesian jungle in search of strong sensations along with his new partner, Sam, while Nina decided to relax in a well-deserved holiday on a cruise ship. The story is not an unusual one, with the two characters (whose paths will cross again, go figure) having the mission to discover what mysteries surround the Puritas Cordis sect and prevent its apocalyptic plans.
As a side note, although it’s not mentioned anywhere, it seems that Nina and Max had a relationship between the two episodes of the series, which is revealed by several apparently insignificant lines of dialog throughout the story. We can hear Nina saying how much she feels the absence of Max, while the latter always keeps with him pictures of his ex girlfriend in the wallet.
An interesting aspect is the fact that, beside our heroes, you have the possibility to control two new characters. I’ve already introduced you to Sam, but I did not mention archbishop Perry just yet. Actually, the story begins with a focus on the archbishop, who receives a letter concerning a prophecy about the world’s end. And even though you can only play as Perry for a short time, the action is shaped in an interesting and very captivating manner.
The gameplay has remained unchanged, in the purest spirit of the point-and-click system. Clicking the right mouse allows you to examine the around objects, while the left is for interacting. The inventory is displayed on the lower part of the screen, in a special bar which only appears when moving the cursor over it. Otherwise, everything is simple and clean, like in any good adventure game.
Due to the implementation of the ‘hotspot’ system in the game, I believe that the adventure genre’s trend is to make puzzle solving more accessible to those less experienced. I am of course referring to the classical reading glass which appears by clicking the Space key right beside those objects from a certain area which can be examined or used. I was already “in touch” with this system thanks to my ‘Sherlock Holmes vs. Jack the Ripper’ playthrough.
The puzzles? A trifle!
One of the major complaints regarding its predecessor was related to the puzzles’ inconsistencies, a downside which unfortunately is also present in Puritas Cordis as well. While in general you’ll only need a good intuition and some experience with the adventure genre, there are a lot of serious logic problems which appear from time to time.
I am sure that those who have already finished the game will agree with me when I fiercely ask how can a holy temple be guarded by an ancient system consisting of some security holes which need to be filled with fish, slugs and peacock feathers? How can the paws of a monkey turn red after eating a tropical fruit? Or maybe one of you will imagine that a beer can has to be thrown on the grass in order for a snail to jump in it? It’s true that not all the puzzles are like that, but the ones that are may lead even a dedicated fan to quickly abandon the game.
In addition to these actions of a questionable logic, we are faced with a lack of clues, which in some situations are absolutely necessary. Not long ago I criticized Sherlock Holmes vs. Jack the Ripper because the two main characters mentioned too often the next step needed to catch killer, thus providing more clues than I’d wished for. The irony is that those clues are exactly the ones I wished to have while playing Puritas Cordis and due to the lack of them, players are forced to consider all possibilities to obtain a result.
It’s true that there are some situations in which Max and Nina must combine objects to get out of trouble, but that does not help the entire puzzle system from becoming absurd.
Graphically speaking, our heroes will travel through various and very well presented locations, such as a cruise boat, the Indonesian jungle or the ruins in Paris. The designer’s attention to details is remarkable, especially related the exterior landscape, which look splendid. Moreover, after each episode we also get to enjoy short, but very beautiful cinematic scenes.
The sound doesn’t stand out in any way, but it can easily keep the tone up with the visited area. So in the woods you will hear birds singing, on a boat a rhythmic music and on the beach the waves crushing on the offshore. Unfortunately, although most of the characters do not speak native English, they don’t have a typical accent, so we won’t hear Nina speaking with a Russian accent, which I must admit is something I would have wanted.
Secret Files 2: Puritas Cordis is a fun and interesting game, but unfortunately fails in several important categories. Although it’s technically sound, it loses serious points because of the same old story about the end of the world, but especially because the puzzles that defy the most elementary logic. Therefore, I cannot place it beside classic adventure titles which made history, but for fans of the genre it’s definitely worth trying on a rainy weekend.