Puzzle Quest 2


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Puzzle Quest 2

DoraHas it really been almost six years since PC users got a taste of the original Puzzle Quest? Well, that won't do at all. Puzzle Quest 2 is here to slake your thirst for monsters, treasure, shiny gems and experience points in this return to the RPG/match-3 hybrid. This time the story takes you to a very Icewind Dale-ish frozen town suffering from a very Icewind Dale 2-ish siege of goblins. Of course, it turns out the pesky little goblinoids are the least of their problems... you, after all, are on the trail of a paladin who might have gone too far in her quests and awoken something slumbering deep beneath the ice near her hometown. Puzzle Quest 2 offers all the addictive gameplay of the original, plus significant additions and a visual upgrades. That's the good news. Of course, depending on how much you adored the simple presentation of its predecessor, the good news is also the bad news.

Puzzle Quest 2The core mechanics are still essentially the same; instead of engaging in emasculating slap-fights with enemies, battles are conducted by swapping coloured gems and skulls on a grid to match different colours for various abilities and effects. This time around there are also gauntlets to match, which give you points you can spend to activate the special abilities granted by weapons or items you're carrying. Some playing fields will also have immovable stone blocks that need to be destroyed. The game also offers a lot of mini-games, or rather, it offers a lot of minor variations on the match-3 battle mechanic to do different tasks. Swap a certain number of blue gems to put out a fire, create combos to bash down doors, loot treasure chests for more valuable items, or even search an area for hidden secrets.

Instead of taking place primarily on a world map as with the original, Puzzle Quest 2 goes with a top down isometric view that lets you explore your environment... sort of. You can still only interact with a very few things, but it at least showcases some beautiful environmental artwork. Silver symbols mean the object or person on the screen relates to a side quest, while gold indicates you're following the main storyline. You can see enemies or objects on the screen, and choose whether you want to engage them (although some enemies obviously can't be avoided). While walking back and forth over big distances can be frustrating, the game thankfully opens various portals as you progress that you can use to make short hops from place to place.

Puzzle Quest 2Analysis: Be honest; how much of the original's painfully generic fantasy story did you ever really pay attention to or care about? Puzzle Quest 2 isn't exactly going to give David Gaider a run for his money, but at the same time, it's a bit more interesting and involved than its predecessor. Perhaps a big part of this comes from the new look and feel of the game, and choosing to allow you to manually explore areas. Obviously the art style is a lot different this time around, and while it didn't necessarily need a change, about 80% of the graphical shift is actually really very lovely, particularly the environments and character portraits. The character sprites are a bit of a mixed bag, and in particular the female assassin sprite looks a lot like a giant barbarian man wearing a Hannibal Lecter face mask. Which... would actually be a pretty darned scary assassin.

The addition I'm most on the fence about is actually the presence of so many mini-games. The worst is actually the looting mini-game; it's entirely up to luck, and you'll either make out like a bandit or wind up with some bits of old wood and string nobody wants. At least if this were tabletop the Dungeon Master would be within throttling distance for granting the adventuring party a piece of leather in the ornate chest they found after slaying the orc king. None of these games really detract from the experience, but they don't really add much to it either. Some of the mini-games show up so infrequently that they give the impression that they were only added so you can point at them and go, "See? That's new."

Puzzle Quest 2Even with the changes made to how weaponry works and your shiny new top-down perspective, however, Puzzle Quest is still Puzzle Quest, and everything that was fun about the original is still fun here. The new assassin class is actually a lot of fun to play, and offers a lot of choice for the strategic player who prefers abilities that work best with planning. The upgrade system is also nice, and lets you turn all the random items you pick up into some seriously formidable equipment bonuses. In fact, compared to what you find or make on your own, the quest rewards will probably feel a little underpowered, but maybe I'm just greedy.

If what you liked about the original was the fast, relatively simplistic gameplay, then admittedly a lot of the changes and additions here are going to feel a little pointless to you, if not downright annoying. But while it didn't necessarily need all the extra bells and whistles that have been padded in here, Personally, I like Puzzle Quest 2. In fact, I really like it. After I'm done writing this, I'm going to go play it some more, and will probably spend a lot of time with it in the future. While some of the new additions aren't as well fleshed out as they could have been, the colourful, addictive gameplay you remember is still there under the hood, while still remaining friendly to newcomers.

WindowsWindows:
Try the online demo
Get the full version

Mac OS XMac OS X:
Not available.
Try Boot Camp or Parallels or CrossOver Games.

14 Comments

Moses Moore August 22, 2010 6:44 PM

Is there a demo that doesn't require a Facebook account, or otherwise handing over my Facebook authentications?
I've been embarrassed before with games telling all my friends (as if it were me) they should play.

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I bought this game the first day out... really enjoying it... I am having one problem and wondering if anyone else is... I can never find a multiplayer game to play, the list is always blank... I don't know if this has to do with the fact that I got the game from Steam? Any others have any luck getting multiplayer games going? Apart from that, the game is great... just as good, and better in many ways than the first... though I do kind of miss the mounts and added spells from mounts and companions of the first one... but I do like the fact that the focus seems to be more on getting your character's spells to work rather than just always matching skulls... the skull matching seems to do reasonably small damage compared to the spells, which I think adds to the game forcing you to use more strategy in getting the mana for your spells.

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Grasa Total Author Profile Page August 22, 2010 11:51 PM

The original had a sense of humor that feels mostly lacking in Puzzle Quest 2. Remember Drong the ogre?

I also liked the higher-stakes (and higher-skill) minigames in PQ1 better... forging a Legendary item felt like a real accomplishment. Now you don't even know what you're getting when you upgrade an item-- you know its stats will improve, but it's not always clear what extra ability it'll acquire once you've upgraded a few times.

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Moses Moore: Unfortunately, no, there isn't a non-Facebook demo to play. And believe me, I was very upset about that!

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What a coincidence, I just got Puzzle Quest 2 the night before this article was posted! I just finished my first 2 battles and I HAVE to say:
I could have sworn that dragging gems to switch was allowed in the first game, why in the hell was it disallowed in this game? It just seems so dumb to have to click on each gem!
I do agree that the character sprites aren't that great, and in fact I think some of the pre-battle images aren't very impressive either, but I guess they aren't horrible either. On the other hand, some graphics are really nice! I had no problem at all with the map-type manner the first game had, also.

I also chose an assassin and named her Lara Croft, hahaha. I have a feeling that playing this game will make me want to go back and play the first game instead.

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SkfyS Day Author Profile Page August 23, 2010 4:53 PM

The squeal of "Puzzle Quest", I believe, was "Galaxy Quest", which sucked big time!

I hope "Puzzle Quest 2" would keep the original gameplay and apply it to a new story.

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Galaxy Quest wasn't so bad. It even had a really mind bending board with hexagonal tiles. It takes a while to get it in your mind, but I felt it was a welcome innovation.

That said, the rest of the game wasn't that exiting.

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Two things- after putting about 60 hours into PQ2 on the DS and about 120 into PQ1, I can safely attest that PQ1 was still much better on almost all accounts.

The reviewer said the story in 2 was better... are you kidding? PQ1 was no literary masterpiece but PQ2 appears to be written by a fourth grader, and I'm honestly not exaggerating here.

Secondly, I have to disagree with the complaint about the looting minigame. There's a degree of luck, but there's also a trick to it. Once I got the hang of it I was getting 3 rares almost every time. It also isn't completely random- each loot pile has pre-determined items. The more you can get in one go the better they get in quality.

The biggest problem in the game wasn't mentioned in the review. Weapons and armor have pointless and erratic stats. You might find a fancy, powerful 2-handed item that does 6 damage for 6 fists. Then you'll see a crappy generic 1-handed item that does 18 damage for 5 fists. And none of these items have special effects attached to them. The design team didn't understand the idea of diablo-style item randomization.

All in all, it's still fun, but it doesn't capture the lightning-in-a-bottle that PQ1 was.

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Anonymous August 29, 2010 1:44 PM

I just started PQ2. I don't know what to do to open King Godd's door. I have the symbol I thought I needed, but don't know what to do with it, if it indeed is what I need to open the door. Everything else has been straight-forward.
I agree about the story not being very good--it's not developed, but drops you into the game without backstory.

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I try it me too, 'cause the cheap price, but I found it was a big mistake.
After the first easy "battles" in town the game continue beat me since the start, dragging half my health at first shot and block any attacks.
The worst thing was that after trying and trying, it started to screw up my saves and finally my system.

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notyahmommah420 October 30, 2010 5:44 PM

I am having a great deal of trouble here. I cannot figure out the last of the puzzle spells in the mine. I cannot for some reason get beyond Crye's lab and/or the dragon. Ok so I need to solve the minigame first, right. Then, I need help. ty

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Anonymous March 2, 2011 3:00 PM

I'm confused- have I finished the game? I killed the gorgon and have no more quests, but there is no big ending or anything. Nor sure what happens now.

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The mini games do give you some treasures, if you match the chests you get weapons and such. and the wood and leather can be used in town to up grade your items. I am having a tough time with the yeti, the dragon and freeing the villagers. I do LOVE this game.

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Please help can't kill Medusa any advice would be GREATLY appreciated. I am playing as a sorcerer.

thx!

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