Puzzle Quest 2

8.5 Overall Score

Written by on July 12, 2010 in

After a brief exploration of the science fiction realm Puzzle Quest is back with a full-fledged dark fantasy sequel to 2007’s Challenge of the Warlords. Is this dungeon-diving/gem-matching hybrid worth your time or should you find your adventures elsewhere?

Gameplay

The core of the Puzzle Quest games is in its creative mash-up of basic ‘match-three’ puzzle solving placed within all the trappings of a classic role-playing-game.  This hybrid still works very well in Puzzle Quest 2 and is made deeper with the addition of new character classes with unique abilities and a new weapon system for quick and reliable damage dealing.  The basic gameplay involves flopping gems on a grid to make matches of three or more.  Matching skull directly damages your opponent, action gems power your weapons and items and five different colored gems fill your mana reserves for special spells and attacks.  In a battle the player and opponent take turns matching gems and launching attacks until someone’s health points reach zero.  While thoughtful matching and grinding experience are rewarded sometimes the tide of battle can be drastically affected by the luck of the gem drop.  It can be frustrating to watch your opponent get a lucky drop and deal one attack after another with no respite but it is also just as satisfying when luck turns in your favor.

If the tide of battle does turn against you, though, you’ll find that death does not have much consequence in Puzzle Quest 2.  If the player happens to be defeated the game will simply place you back in the same spot of the dungeon and grant you a small amount of experience points for trying.  You are then free to jump right back in and try again.  While the more hardcore of RPG players might decry this as too easy it is actually a good feature for a portable puzzle game that is meant to be played in short bursts and goes a long way in relieving the frustrations of higher difficulty levels.

While battling monsters comprises the bulk of Puzzle Quest 2’s Adventure the gem matching mechanic is also employed in a series of six mini games used for various RPG tasks like looting, lock-picking, and disarming traps.  The core mechanics of these mini games are the same as the main battles but they are varied enough to alleviate the repetition of longer dungeon dives.  Additionally, both battles and mini games can be played outside of the main quest for a quick play session or to gain some extra experience points.

Story

Since this game is half role-playing-game a long story is almost a requirement.  The story here, though, basically amounts to dark fantasy mad-libs.  A world-weary warrior enters (rustic small village) to find it over run by (Tolken-esk ugly monster).  After routing said monsters the hero learns of and ancient (evil/demon/puppy) deep within the dungeon next door.  Our hero immediately sets out to slay the ancient (evil/demon/puppy) in order to gain (peace/cash/badass weapons).  Wash, rinse and repeat.

As generic as the story is, though, it serves its purpose well providing the player with rank dungeons to traverse side-quests to complete and endless baddies to bash.  Couple that with the occasional clever line or familiar character arch-type and accomplishes it’s task well enough and gives purpose to the puzzle solving gameplay.

Presentation

Visually Puzzle Quest 2 is a step up from its predecessor with a new isometric viewpoint, gorgeous and finely detail backgrounds and character models and personable (though sometimes obnoxiously repetitive) voice acting snippets.  Where it falls short, though, is in its almost complete lack of animation.  The hero has a simple walking animation to get him around the world but every other character and enemy basically amounts to a static, flat character model glued in place to the ground.  Battles are not much better with two character portraits staring at each other from each side while the gems flip in the middle.  A little bit of flare is added with simple spell and weapon animations flashing across the board but for the most part the focus is on the puzzle gameplay with the stuff around the board mostly as window dressing.  Still, as lackluster as some of the presentation can be the over all package still works well and enhances the core gameplay without distracting from it.

Verdict

While not perfect, Puzzle Quest 2 is a well crafted and entertaining package offering plenty of appeal for both RPG and puzzle game veterans.  Quick pickup and play action makes this game well suited to on-the-go gaming and a lengthy main quest, multiple character classes and local multiplayer support ensures that the player won’t run out of puzzle battles to fight anytime soon.  Whether you’re looking for an on-the-go RPG or a puzzle game with a point to the puzzles Puzzle Quest 2 is worth checking out.

A copy of Puzzle Quest 2 was provided to The Married Gamers for the purpose of examination and review.

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Author: Tylor Long View all posts by

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