Grave Shift 2: The Sewers
It's more isometric puzzle adventuring with Tangerine Pop Game's release of Grave Shift 2: The Sewers. Our courageous bearded pal finds himself in the kingdom's sewers after the first Grave Shift, and now the White Warlock is setting traps to keep his loot safe. Move through the dank environments pushing blocks, smacking enemies with a shovel, gathering keys and collecting treasures as you go, all in the name of giving King Krump extra gold.
The grid is on a slant in Grave Shift 2, so even though you use the [arrow] keys to move, they don't correspond directly to where you walk. Pressing [up], for example, moves you northeast, while [down] moves southwest, etc. Tap the [spacebar] to use your handy shovel (when you find it), and toggle the help bar with the [B] key. The controls are usually the biggest point of contention for "slanted" isometric games, but if you're having trouble wrapping your head around it, simply turn your keyboard clockwise until it feels natural.
Locked doors, blocked passageways, buttons, levers, colored gates and swarms of monsters all have to be dealt with, but you've got the tools for the job. Many objects can be pushed by nudging against them, and you can use them to trap enemies, hold buttons, or just get them out of the way to collect the shiny things behind them. Monster generators can be destroyed by sliding blocks on top of them, which comes in quite handy when you're sick of swatting giant spiders. Food and potions keep you healthy and strong, so be sure to grab them if you're in a spot of trouble.
Analysis: Grave Shift 2 captures that old-school isometric adventure feeling surprisingly well. The addition of enemies and health bars gives it a more arcade-style feel, but you don't have to be a twitch gamer to take out a slow-moving mummy with a shovel. The action and puzzle elements are balanced very well, leaving you free to shove blocks and wander the sewers looking for stuff to solve.
Apart from the "awkward for some" control scheme (which is unavoidable when you try and use a keyboard with this sort of game), the only other rough spot in Grave Shift 2 is the game's tendency to hide exits, switches, and other key items amongst the clutter. Sometimes you'll wander back and forth feeling lost as to what to do next, only to realize there was an exit you missed because it was barely noticeable. The game isn't timed or anything, so exploration is encouraged, but I'd rather see an exit but not be able to reach it than to stumble across it by accident.
Isometric games are a beloved genre for me, and Grave Shift 2 delivers exactly what I enjoy. Puzzles, exploration, and a bit (but not too much) action to keep things lively. With two worlds to explore in this one game, you'll be perfectly content to stay in the sewers for a long time.