Puzzle Quest 2 Review

For those Puzzle Quest fans that didn't like the way the subsequent Puzzle Games had their gameplay drastically changed, rejoice! The sequel, Puzzle Quest 2, returns to the same style of gameplay as the original, albeit with a few minor alterations. I actually got bored of playing the first Puzzle Quest so I was curious to see if any improvements had been made to keep my attention on the sequel.

Puzzle Quest 2 Battle Video

Sound (3/5)
The game has as good sound effects and voice acting as previous games - which means they're alright, but nothing exceptional.

Music (4/5)
The music in this iteration of Puzzle Quest is of a high quality but now the music is very moody and orchestral - no doubt trying to capture the darker feel of the game. Hey if it's going to rip-off Diablo, might as well - although there's no acoustic guitar to be heard here. Oh, and you're probably wondering "why did he mention that it's a rip-off of Diablo?" - well, you shall see what other aspects of the game are similar in the following sections...

Even though the music is of high quality, it doesn't really appeal to my taste and I miss the quirky, medieval, 8-bit nature of the original tunes. The melodies really stuck in your head! Case in point, this theme...

... is always popping in my head every so often (and I suspect some Puzzle Quest fans can empathise).

Graphics (3/5)
The graphics have been improved to be higher resolution in this game and a different viewpoint. Instead of a top-down view of your characters as in the original Puzzle Quest, you now traverse the map with an isometric view ala Diablo (see I told you there'd be more similarities with Diablo). The artwork, although still in a cartoon format, adopts a more realistic style when compared to the manga style of the original.

Overall, I think the graphics have taken a turn for the better although on a high resolution, I actually get some slow framerate issues (although not sure if this is the game purposely slowing it down or not).

Plot (3/5)
And here is where it is obvious that the game is a Diablo rip-off.

You are a wanderer who comes across a village that is being plagued by a terrible evil. Your quest is to traverse deeper and deeper into the dungeons to eliminate the source of the evil.

However, nothing is as blatant a copy as the Deckard Cain reference as shown in the video below:

A fitting and hilarious tribute, but need I say more? :)

There are also a lot of plot holes between cutscenes. Often a cutscene would say "I decided to search for so-and-so." and you'll often be going "Who? Where? What?" in confusion.

For those of you who haven't played Puzzle Quest, the game combines the addictive (at least to some) match-3 gameplay of Bejeweled (where you match three or more rows of gems in order to clear them off a board) with role-playing elements. The match-3 gameplay is used in everything from fighting battles, picking locks or searching for traps.

In Puzzle Quest 2 this mostly remains the same except now there is an extra gem introduced: Fists. Matching fists allows you to power up weapons you have equipped which deal raw damage when used against the enemy. This is a boon for those who find the match-3 gameplay tedious as you can now just focus on matching fists and using the weapons to kill instead of skulls or spells/abilities. Ultimately though, Puzzle Quest is still very much a game for those who like match-3 games or are casual/puzzle gamers so if you find matching gems rather tedious at times (like myself) the game can become quite a chore going from one major battle to the next.

Puzzle Quest 2 Search and Disarm Trap Gameplay Video

Replayability (5/5)
There is quite a lot done in the realm of replayability.

Firstly multiplayer is back and allows you to either play on LAN or on the Internet (thanks to Steamworks). However, I noticed that sometimes the multiplayer functionality doesn't quite work as it is intended, although I don't know if this has something to do with Steam or Puzzle Quest.

Also multiple classes are back, allowing you to play as a Paladin, Barbarian, Assassin or Sorceror, each with slightly different spells and weapons at their disposal (you can also play as a male or female although this only affects appearance).

A new tournament mode has been added which allows you to duke your team of monsters versus an AI team of monsters and what would a Steam game be without Steam achievements? There are quite a few available here and most are quite easy to get (as I guess you'd expect for a casual game). There are also persistent stats available on your Steam profile, such as your favourite class, what was the highest amount of damage you inflicted, your win/loss ratio, etc.

The game is rather well polished which is a welcome relief, however one minor issue that irks me is the time it takes to traverse from one screen or point to another. Since you can quite easily click the wrong foe/direction by accident you'll undoubtedly waste a few seconds here and there - the original suffered from this problem too.

Puzzle Quest 2 General Gameplay Video

Overall - 6/10
It's Puzzle Quest: Diablo with more match-3 goodness, but hardcore gamers still run the risk of getting bored quickly in this series.

If you want to get the game, you can get it off Steam.

Also check out this blog where I got the video of the Deckard Cain reference from - it's pretty choice!