Reviews

Persian Nights: Sands of Wonders Rapid Review

Reading Time: 5 minutes

Fast Facts

Title: Persian Nights: Sands of Wonders
Developer: Sodigital
Publisher: Forever Entertainment / Artifex Mundi
Website: https://www.artifexmundi.com/g/persian-nights-sands-wonders/
Genre: Point and Click / Hidden Object Adventure, Puzzler
Platform: Nintendo Switch
Audience: PEGI 12
Release Date: 17/08/2019
Price: £13.49 – Rapid Reviews UK were very kindly provided with a review code for this title.

Take a cursory browse of publisher Artifex Mundi’s massive catalogue of games. See a pattern? If you’ve played any, you’ll likely know of their reputation for quality hidden object/point and click adventure titles. Persian Nights: Sands of Wonders, developed by Sodigital, falls firmly in this category and has already been around the block a few times with a Steam release dating back to 2017. Now Forever Entertainment has brought the same experience to Nintendo’s latest, how does it stack up to similar offerings on Switch? Well, that depends on what you’re looking for.

Reign in Dune

The plot is easy to follow and, honestly, the exact sort of plot you’d expect from a game called Persian Nights. After witnessing the terminally ill king’s son, Darius, get a magical beating from the comically evil Grand Vizier Zaved, young apothecary Tara intervenes with her first foray into the Persian supernatural sorcery, saving the acrobatic prince then joining him for an adventure to save the kingdom from the threat of a shadowy plague.

Controlling both protagonists Tara and Darius (presumably loosely based on Darius the Great), you solve riddles in a fantasy Persian Empire setting, working your way from screen to screen, looking for items and clues on the way. The set up is linear and standard fare for the old-as-time point and click genre; look for hidden objects, piece them together or generally mess around with them until they do something. Interactivity comes down to choosing one of your gathered items from a menu and searching the various locations for something that can be used with what you’re holding, or completing a puzzle, in the hope of opening the next area to progress the story.

Zaved’s out for power, as is the wont of any maniacally, self-absorbed super-villain. On taking hold of a mysterious talisman, Tara’s arm dons some funky symbols allowing her to tap into an unknown power. This spawns the first of a number of a combat mini-games largely consisting of matching symbols; a simplicity that carries through most steps of the adventure. Puzzles themselves are varied and, while never truly taxing or original, are served at a consistent pace, sometimes sheathed in a fun premise, throwing stone golems at you one minute, while slotting in gems to complete a magic circuit the next.

Persian Slights

Feeling stuck? The trick is to mash items into anything that lets you until something works. “Let’s throw this twig in the dragon statue’s eye socket and perhaps a hidden gem will fall out from its bottom!” is akin to the nonsense that will cross your mind once logic fails you, but fortunately there’s a handy hint button that guides you in the right direction, a required staple for us modern gamers with our lack of time and patience. Perhaps you’re the type that reverts to a guide. Don’t bother. Aside from being mostly straightforward, Persian Nights’ aforementioned hint button grabs a big, flashing neon sign which draws you to the exact point you’re supposed to be looking at while sending a shadowy phantom hand out of your Switch screen which swiftly slaps you, grips you by the cheeks, and drags your gaze directly to the oh-so-obvious solution.

Tara adds something extra to the mix, being the skilled apothecary she is, with an interactive recipe-blending medical kit, used for all sorts of alchemist concoctions. It’s a simple but satisfying method of resolving puzzles, with one-click prompts to add an ingredient, light a burner or mix with a mortar and pestle while flicking through Tara’s personal fireworks kit. Yeah, it’s not all medicinal; she’s pragmatic if nothing else.

Prince Inertia

The two are eventually joined by the ‘goofy-but-kind-hearted’ genie, Minu. Not my words, I assure you. Mine would be less kind-hearted no doubt. Let’s be marginally diplomatic and say the cretinous halfwit’s squeaks straddle a line somewhere between irritating and maddening. Fortunately, I developed a wonderful skill that I employed each time her mouth opened. I call it The Mind Palace’s White Noise. Learn it, make it yours.

If you think I spent too much time detailing my thoughts on Minu, it’s largely because the characters in Persian Nights don’t have a personality as such, with Tara being dry Weetabix-bland while beating you into a coma with an on-the-nose ‘I am strong-willed’ archetype. Darius, meanwhile, is a total jerk. Whether intentional or not, he comes across as the half-entitled, half-oblivious know-it-all you’d expect of a royal. By the end of the game, I secretly hoped they’d all fall into a pit and fail. Funnily enough, the ending was so obvious, slow and plain dull they had me wishing that was the case.

It’s not all bad. Voice acting is proficient, if not stand-out, with the two leads delivering their boring lines with more enthusiasm than they were dealt. The genies were given odd voice directions though, coming off more derogatory than the whimsical cartoon style they appeared to be aiming for.

The artwork and sound design work to deliver a taste for mystery and intrigue-filled with that innate surprise and wonder that comes with a classic tomb-raiding, treasure hunting, fantasy environment. Character animations are notably short on frames but effects are plentiful and each scene is littered with extraordinary detail to retain interest. Murky underground tombs give way to curious sky palaces with floating orbs and sandstone structures; each area has a distinct feel but stays firmly woven into the theme.

Enter Sandman

The menu UI’s a little clunky for something with so few options and the control scheme doesn’t help its case; on Switch at least, it’s easy to confuse how you’re supposed to get an item to interact with another by accidentally exiting a sub-menu. An annoyance, given the feature, isn’t used frequently enough to fix to muscle memory. It’s not complicated by any means, just not as intuitive as a bare-bones interface should be. Everything else works perfectly and I had few instances of unintentionally clicking the wrong herb or keyhole. It’s a breezy experience that works efficiently without the aid of a mouse.

Persian Nights: Sands of Wonders is a pleasant, fluid point and click adventure that ends too abruptly. The writing is tired and wooden, the plot relentlessly neglectable, but the flow of the item combinations, puzzles and the excellent addition of the alchemy-like apothecary kit make for a journey worth playing through, even if it means gritting your teeth through the dialogue. Just skip the ending, unless you need a digital alternative to Nytol.

Rapid Reviews Rating

You can buy Persian Nights: Sands of Wonder from the following stores:
eShop Steam

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