Review: The Secret Order: Return to the Buried Kingdom

By B1ueSeptember

Posted by Stealth David   20th October 2020
As a HOPA fan, it’s been a pleasure to discover a new title from Artifex Mundi.
The Secret Order: Return to the Buried Kingdom is the eighth title in the Secret Order series that began in 2011 though it’s only the second of the series on Xbox One.

In the publisher’s latest offering for consoles, you’ll again find yourself playing the role of Sarah Pennington (if you played Shadow Reach), an agent with The Secret Order. As the game begins, Sarah’s best friend from childhood has called for her help to save the Buried Kingdom, a mysterious world of magic and dragons that is hidden in the sea. The Mother Dragon, the power that kept balance in the kingdom, has died, and the world has gone mad with once-tame dragons becoming wild and dark magic being unleashed. Into these dangers, Sarah must travel and find a way to return balance or watch the Buried Kingdom be destroyed.

If you’ve played Artifex Mundi games before, you won’t be surprised that the game is very pretty with colorful artwork and good voice acting. Like other games from this publisher, the title includes a good mix of puzzles: finding hidden items, acquiring collectibles, seeking clues, and solving problems. The puzzles aren’t difficult (well, except for that marble one – I’m not very good at those). They’re just enough to pleasantly make one think without driving a person crazy.

Achievement hunters will be happy to know that the game can be completed in one run-through if desired, probably in under three hours. I always play these games without a guide the first time, so I usually end up having to replay to find a collectible or two (or three) that I missed, but as I enjoy this, it works for me. If you’d rather do it all in one go, the two types of collectibles (puzzle pieces and morphing objects) are the only things you have to really pay close attention to in order not to miss any.

Achievements are easier than in past titles. Using Expert mode isn’t necessary, nor are other modes required like dominoes, and more of the achievements than previously are accomplished as part of the story. Once the main tale is finished, a new chapter opens up that continues the story, complete with its own set of achievements.

Owning most if not all of the Artifex Mundi games available for Xbox One, I can say with authority that fans of this publisher won’t be disappointed. It provides a great way to spend a relaxing evening at the end of a long day. The only negative for me was the lack of a real ending. It’s just boom – done! There’s enough story in the game to deserve a little more at the end. But this is a small complaint about an otherwise enjoyable experience.

The Secret Order: Return to the Buried Kingdom is a nice title in a long list of fun games. Artifex Mundi has done it again.

Reviewer’s Score: 9.0 out 10
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