As addictive as ever, the latest title in the Puzzle Quest series improves on the original version while returning to its traditional gameplay formula after deviating from it in Puzzle Quest: Galactrix. The story in Puzzle Quest 2 revolves around fighting the evil spread around the world by necromancers, sending your hero on quests through a series of underworld dungeons.
In this semi-open world, players will have the choice between one of four character types; assassin, barbarian, sorcerer and templar, each with their own skill sets. Venturing through the world your character will soon encounter a wide variety of eerie enemies including goblins, orcs, skeletons, ghosts, witches, and wolves.
By swapping pieces on the puzzle board, players create matches of three items or more; collecting the corresponding coloured mana, action points or inflicting skull damage. In this turn-based game the enemy will have the chance to fight back using magical, physical or skull attacks. A variety of puzzles is used in every aspect of the game, from bashing locked doors and unlocking treasure chests to searching rooms for traps and disabling them.
Massive quantities of loot are collected throughout the game, including a variety of weapons, shields and armour, potions, magic jewellery and resources used to upgrade these items. Earning experience points after each puzzle, players will occasionally get to chose one of their character’s attributes to upgrade.
The presentation of Puzzle Quest 2 kicks it up a notch compared to the original with a more serious and dark look. Both the enemies and player characters are creatively drawn with beautiful detail. The music is also very suiting, with dark and mysterious tonalities. A few cutscenes feature excellent voice acting adding a touch of variety to the game’s presentation, though it would have been nice to see more of these.
The main drawback of Puzzle Quest 2 is the world map, which is a bit tedious to navigate. To get from one point to another, characters must pass through predetermined checkpoints, rather than moving around freely. This is not a problem in itself, except when you try to backtrack to a specific point and have to pass from checkpoint to checkpoint, scrolling from one screen to the next. The cursor will automatically point in the direction of the next quest, which can cause some needless backtracking if players are not attentive. However, portals will appear along the way to fast travel you to key areas.
While the game will surely keep fans playing for hours, the experience does get a bit redundant and can be tiring if you are trying to advance the story. The encounter rate is pretty high and since every action is puzzle based, so players might get tired of the grind before reaching the end of the game.
Along with the single player quest mode, the game offers local and Xbox LIVE multiplayer, a quick battle mode which has you fighting random enemies, and a mini games mode in which you can replay any type of puzzle. Players can have more than one active character, but each must play through the story mode independently. After about 25 hours of play time, I estimate being approximately one third through the game, with my character at level 30.
Puzzle Quest 2 is truly the sequel fans have been waiting for, successfully expanding on the original concept. Despite being a bit of a grind, the game offers great value with hundreds of hours of gameplay. Players, including myself, will keep coming back for more.
+ Many Hours of Addictive Gameplay
+ Great Audiovisual Presentation
+ Larger Variety of Puzzles
– Gets to Be Redundant as You Progress
– Getting Around the Map is Tedious