With a new approach, ‘Puzzle Quest 2’ reinvents itself while staying true to its archaic puzzle/rpg roots. The formula might be different, but all the gem-matching action remains. If you thought the original was addictive, clear your weekend schedule because 'Puzzle Quest 2' is everything the original was and more.
For those who are unfamiliar with ‘Puzzle Quest,’ it replicates a gem-matching experience similar to ‘Bejeweled’ while mixing it with the lore, level building, and loot grabbing aspects of a fantasy role-playing game. The results might surprise you, and what seems like an unlikely combination turns out to be an addictive experience that is unlike no other. The original, ‘Puzzle Quest: Challenge of the Warlords’ was released in 2007, and since then ‘Puzzle Quest’ fans have been eagerly awaiting a sequel. Well, the wait is over, and you can wipe the salivation from your mouth. ‘Puzzle Quest 2’ has arrived, and in similar fashion to the original... the results might surprise you.
Back to Basics
Unexpectedly, 'Puzzle Quest' developer ‘Infinite Interactive’ has switched up their formula for the sequel by adding some new tweaks to the both "puzzle" and "RPG" elements of the game. Unlike their last gem/rpg effort, the space offshoot ‘Galactrix,’ Infinite keeps the action uncomplicated with a new “adventure” styled format. This new adventure styled format opts for a more up close and personal approach by replacing the top-down overhead map with a more traditional 3D space.
It's All in the Perspective
This change instantly makes ‘Puzzle Quest 2’ look and feel different then the original. Before you start to worry that 'infinite' has ruined the series, 'Puzzle Quest 2' plays pretty much the same as the original. The graphics and navigation might look different, because they are, but when you get down to it, you will still be working on a main quest, hitting up side-quests, while leveling up your character and snagging some sweet loot.
The navigation is split off in up to four directions in each area, so instead of clicking and watching your icon move, you will now be engrossed in a rich world watching your hand drawn avatar jump from arrow to arrow.
In the first few moments, I was skeptical on the new changes. However, the more I played the game, the more I agreed with the new direction. ‘Puzzle Quest 2’ might not have its familiar old look, but this new approach is better.... not only in the visuals, but in the entire experience. Secondly, this new look should entice new fans who didn’t find the “stripped down” look appealing.
Now Including Swords!
The second major switch up aside from the navigation and look of the game are a few tweaks to the combat. Now you can equip your character with weapons, items, and amour to use in battle. Skulls are still used to cause damage, but now you can also attack the enemy with your weapon of choice-- makes sense doesn’t it. Upgrading your equipment comes with the territory and finding new and better weapons is par for the course. It also means new ways to play the game, and more loot, loot, loot!
To use your weapon during a match you will need to collect new gauntlets from the gem-filled grid. Like spells, and depending on your weapons stats, you will need to build these up before you can swing away. Gauntlets also are incorporated with different spells both offensive and defensive. Now this doesn't mean you can go berserk on your enemies, their is a trade off with weapon usage and point system. Large weapons need to built up longer, but do more damage, and small weapons can be used quicker, but do less damage. In addition, two handed weapons and one handed weapons come in to play. Want a shield? Well, kiss that two handed bastard sword away. In more ways than one, weapons have added a much welcomed depth to this accomplished strategy game.
You Like Mini-Games? We Do
Continuing on with the changes, a few additional gem-matching mini-games been added to your endeavor, or simply as a fun diversion outside of your campaign. These include matching gems to bust down doors, loot treasure and more. The basics are the same as the normal gem-collecting action, however the add some extra flavour that helps keep things fresh. Treasure mini-games are especially fun because you know you are earning some coin while playing, and better yet, you can unlock some rare items to help give you an edge on the battlefield. It's not rocket science, but it works to make 'Puzzle Quest 2' more diverse then the original.
Into the Underground
The actual main quest isn’t overly important, the task at hand, defeat all the enemies in a Tolkien-esq adventure. You know?! A be the hero, save town scenario. The monsters you will face in the game range from the typical goblin in several variations to animals such as a humbling polar bear. There are lots of side-quests, boss battles, and alternative paths to take during the main quest. The characters are the normal affair with four classes, each with their distinctive spells and skills to master. Each class actually makes a difference, contrasting nicely in their own way. It is good to find a class that fits your playing style, or step outside the box, and try something new. How far you want to dive into ‘Puzzle Quest 2’ is up to the player, and since the game auto-levels your enemies, there no reason to go overly crazy, unless you want to.
What About Fluffy?
A few things I missed from the original that didn’t make the cut in ‘Puzzle Quest 2’ is the ability to battle the enemy multiple times until you unlocked their skills, the expertise to train and ride different beasts in your travels... I miss my pet rat “fluffy” (yes I named the rat 'Fluffy') and I missed the larger-than-life feeling that the big map portrayed. Travelling one side of the globe while stopping at each capital city (with the option to siege) was awesome, and it definitely felt more “epic” then searching through an underground cavern. With the new layout, I understand why some of the features have been nixed. However, I am sure the hardcore lot of ‘Puzzle Quest’ fans might have a few complaints with the new system. Thankfully both games have nearly unlimited replay value that makes playing them over-and-over satisfying and fun.
'Puzzle Quest 2' is a true sequel that improves on the original while keeping all the aspects that made the original a hit. 1200 MS points is a small price to play for a game that will virtually last forever. I am still playing the original ‘Puzzle Quest’ years later, which is a testament to the quality and addictive nature of this extraordinary mash-up. If you like gem-styled matching games and want something more out of your average match-up, 'Puzzle Quest 2' is a safe bet.
Final Score: 8.6
Reviewed by DowntownJimmy | 07.19.10
- Feels like a proper sequel
- New immersing style
- Lots of gameplay tweaks
- Still as addictive
- Graphics have given an overhaul
- Almost unlimited replay value
- Lots of customization
- New navigation might not please old sticklers
- A few things didn't make it into the sequel
- Quest isn't overly original
Similar Games: Puzzle Quest: Revenge of the Plague Lord (8.0) | Puzzle Quest: Galactrix (8.0)