Usually when a developer releases a sequel to a critically acclaimed game, such as Puzzle Quest, they either play it too safe, ending up with a game that feels more like an expansion than an all new game, or they make changes for the sake of making changes, losing the magic that made the original so enjoyable in the process. Luckily, Infinite Interactive did neither of those when crafting Puzzle Quest 2, giving us a game that feels and plays differently than Puzzle Quest, but retains the addictive and enjoyable gameplay throughout.
One difference between Puzzle Quest and Puzzle Quest 2 is evident the minute you begin the game. The overworld is gone, replaced with an isometric close up view of the world. This helps give a more fantasy/RPG feel to the game, though it would have been nice to find some way of including both the overworld and this new view. The second difference you’ll find is that rather than just using puzzles for combat, you’ll use them for just about every action you would expect to take in an RPG. Finding treasure, disabling traps, opening locked doors, even putting out fires are all accomplished by various puzzle minigames. This gives you a nice change of pace from the standard combat puzzles. Next, there are no more spells to unlock, beasts to capture, or castles to build. Instead, . There are dozens of weapons and armor for you to choose from and upgrade, each with their own benefits. This adds a nice new layer of strategy to the game that makes up for the removal of the other features. Finally, Puzzle Quest 2 has 5 colors of mana this time and there are no gold coins or experience gems for you to collect during battles. Instead, you collect gauntlets, which allow you to use the various pieces of equipment you can now find and equip.
A game like Puzzle Quest 2 lives or dies on its gameplay, and I’m pleased to say that it is just as addictive, fun, and challenging as the first game was. The difficulty is a little uneven in this one, with new spells and abilities sometimes making things much easier suddenly than they used to be, but that doesn’t dilute the enjoyment you’ll get out of it at all.
In the end, Puzzle Quest 2 is a refinement over an already great game, so if you wanted some more Puzzle Quest goodness, you’ll enjoy Puzzle Quest 2. Otherwise, you’re better off looking elsewhere.
Pros: Combat is still as addictive and enjoyable as ever; New isometric point of view works well; Equipment adds a nice layer of strategy to the combat
Cons: Difficulty curve is a bit uneven; Text can be difficult to read