The developers at Infinite Interactive had quite the task on their hands as they prepared Puzzle Quest 2. As with all sequels, they needed to find a balance between what people loved about the original and innovation.
What's new — primarily the graphics — is a bit unsettling at first, but fans of this blend of puzzle and role-playing games will be pleased with their new adventure.
The original Puzzle Quest was addictive because of its gameplay, not its graphics. As with most puzzle games, the bulk of the player's time was spent matching items, except that Puzzle Quest turned the genre into the equivalent of a Final Fantasy, in which players matched gems and skulls to do battle with enemies using spells that they could improve, and with weapons.
The sequel has kept that basic gameplay element intact, although there is a welcome addition in which your weapon is no longer reliant only on matching skulls for damage. You also can match gauntlets that build up power for you to choose when to swing your sword, axe or so forth.
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The major change is in how you get to this gameplay. The original offered an aerial view of a world map on which your character moved from one point to the next. Each time you reached a new city or destination, you would have the option of pulling up a menu and taking part in a quest or fighting an enemy. You also sometimes were randomly attacked while on your way.
This time, the developers have created a more traditional traveling interface, in which your full-size character walks from place to place in a city, or room to room inside a dungeon. Every screen is a new section of that city or room.
The developers also upgraded the cutscenes that explain your quest to rid the peaceful city of Verloren of the demon Gorgon. This upgrade, although good overall, left me a bit saddened. The cutscenes on the previous game were narrated by quite possibly the worst voice actor ever — think Stephen Hawking; honestly, it sounded like him — but by the time I had beaten Lord Bane, it was highly entertaining just to listen.
As expected, Puzzle Quest 2 introduces new spells, weapons and characters. It also includes mini-games that offer variety to the standard puzzle action.
Overall, it's a worthy successor to the original and will have you staying up late, convinced that you need to kill one more goblin.