Empress of the Deep 2:
Song of the Blue Whale
Empress of the Deep 2: Song of the Blue Whale is a brand new adventure game from Silverback Productions, creator of the original Empress of the Deep game. The sequel picks up where the first game left off, dropping you in a lushly-rendered world filled with mythological entities, puzzling pieces of machinery, and just a dab or two of fantasy magic.
After more than a century of being trapped in a crypt below the waves, Anna has finally awoken. Her memory is, to put it lightly, spotty, but something about her twin sister Pandora discovering she wasn't the true empress and attempting to destroy both herself and Anna rings a bell. You barely escaped a watery death, and climbing out of the tomb on the salty sea shore, you quickly learn you must travel to the Temple of the Clouds and restore the Elemental Sources. But first things first: time to repair your balloon!
Just like its predecessor, Empress of the Deep 2 is built around a solid casual adventure game core littered with hidden object scenes, puzzles, mini-games, and a few inventory items to discover. Everything is mouse-driven, right down to the journal that helps you keep track of locations, important items, and the story as it unfolds. It's finely-tuned to guide you on your quest without holding your hand, allowing you the freedom to explore without the dangers of getting lost or frustrated.
Once you're in the Temple of the Clouds, Empress of the Deep 2 streamlines itself into four main zones, each accessible by gaining the appropriate medallion. You'll have to do some mild backtracking to solve many of these puzzles, but the game's hint system is generous and intelligent, always pointing you exactly where you need to go. And besides, with cursor changes, "area clear" signs, and sparkling points all over the screen, you aren't likely to lose your way any time soon.
Analysis: Empress of the Deep 2: Song of the Blue Whale continues right where the first game left off, picking up both the storyline and the gameplay set-up. More of the same is definitely a good thing, especially seeing how the series is so young and crafted with such care. It's one of those games that grabs you right from the start. And, fortunately, there's enough content and smartly-built gameplay to keep you enthusiastically solving puzzles all the way to the end.
By far the strongest part of Empress of the Deep 2 is its storytelling ability. Combining a playful but detailed art style with a mythical story is always a recipe for win, but it's especially poignant when coupled with hidden object gameplay. Too often studios attempt to write a serious, true-to-life story and pair it with a casual game. What do you end up with? Adventurous uncles, missing family members, headstrong teenage detectives, and that whole lot. Here, under the cloak of myth, Empress of the Deep 2 is free to spin whatever tale it pleases. No matter what happens, you're interested because you know it's a story. And a good one, at that!
As far as length is concerned, expect between three and fours hours with Empress of the Deep 2: Song of the Blue Whale. The difficulty never really sets in, so you won't be stuck looking for one item or one button you missed three screens back (especially with the in-game strategy guide included with the Collector's Edition). Instead, you'll move from location to location, gathering items and solving puzzles with pleasant, relative ease.
Empress of the Deep 2: Song of the Blue Whale hits all of the high points for a casual adventure game, sprinkling just the right amount of hidden object scenes and tricky puzzles to provide a varied and engaging gaming experience.
A Collector's Edition is also available. It contains exclusive hidden object scenes, a gem-matching mini-game you can play to compete for trophies and top scores, an in-game strategy guide, and more. Remember that Big Fish Game Club Members pay only $13.99 for Collector's Editions (or 2 club credits), and collector's editions count 3 card punches of 6 total needed for a free game.