Mahjongg Artifacts: Chapter 2 Review

What do you do when your missing boyfriend may have become a god? Well, if you’re the comic book heroine of Mahjongg Artifacts: Chapter 2, you fight to save him from himself by playing mahjongg solitare.

Like in any mahjongg solitare game, small tiles are laid out on a board and the player must select tiles that match and can be slid out of the layout horizontally. It is a simple game and has seen countless versions appear on PC, console and mobile, including the classic Kyodai Mahjongg and the scrabble variant Wordjong.

Mahjongg Artifacts: Chapter 2 is a faithful port of the mahjongg solitaire PC game. It wonderfully replicates the full game experience in miniature on the iPhone, but perhaps it’s a bit too miniature at times.

We’ve heard of minigames, but this is ridiculous.

All three modes from the PC version are included: Quest, Classic and Endless. Classic mode is a standard type of mahjongg solitaire, with 99 layouts for you to try your hand at. Endless is exactly what it sounds like: layer after layer of mahjongg tiles to clear. Quest is by far the most interesting of the three. In Quest mode, the backgrounds and tile sets of your boards vary based on what is happening in the overarching storyline.

One thing that sets this Mahjongg title apart from all the rest is its interesting style of storytelling. Mahjongg Artifacts: Chapter 2 uses comic book-style cutscenes to tell the story of its nameless female protagonist, who must cross the globe in search of her estranged paramour. Lover boy has become a demi-god, and you must follow the trail of altruism-turned-catastrophe he leaves across Asia and Europe, before using the power of the mahjongg tiles to defeat him in the astral plane.

She studied symbology at Harvard under Robert Langdon.

While the odd story can be difficult to follow at times, the comics are very elaborate and provide an interesting way of telling the tale. These comics are only one artistic aspect of this visually stunning game.

The backgrounds are absolutely beautiful, but unfortunately are mostly covered up by the mahjongg tiles. The five different sets of tiles used are also very detailed and quite gorgeous. Tiny men sit atop tiny elephants on some tiles, while tiny women in saris carry tiny baskets on others.

Tininess is really the only big problem in this game. The tile layouts are very elaborate, which requires the tiles themselves to be very, very small. It is often difficult to see what exactly is on the tile, which can make matching difficult. The game provides two different means of magnifying the board, though neither lets you see everything up close all at once. Because the tiles are so very small, it doesn’t take long for major eye strain to develop.

Eureka!

Once you do spot the tiles you want to select, you simply tap them. Because the pad of your finger is much larger than the tiles you’re selecting, each tap actually touches two or three tiles at once. Despite this the correct tile is almost always selected, making this control scheme second to none.

The music is also very good. A calm melody plays in the background, punctuated by a chiming gong. Unfortunately the sound of you moving mahjongg tiles around, rather than a simple click, sounds like a person breaking their nose. The bone-snapping sound effect is a bit unnerving and detracts from the game.

The fantastic graphics and attention to detail are really what make this mahjongg title better than the rest. The spot-on controls, coupled with the entertaining storyline and great graphics, make this one of the best matching puzzle games we’ve seen yet.

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