Note: This review was written in cooperation with Future Sack editor Annagram.
Puzzle Agent was a weird but wonderful adventure game. So does Telltale Games’ Puzzle Agent 2 play it safe with the Professor Layton-esque gameplay, or does it offer even more chills and mindbending puzzles?
Puzzle Agent 2 (PC)
(USA 2011, developer/publisher: Telltale Games, platform: PC)
Agent Tethers goes back to the small town of Scoggins on unofficial business only to find out that even more people went missing.
More puzzling story
The plot is much more complicated and engaging this time around with better pacing and the introduction of memorable characters, one even becoming something of a love interest for the agent. While the first game had quite a few topics to discuss during conversations, the dialogues are much longer as well with the plot feeling less like an excuse to solve puzzles or have weird situations Tethers finds himself in. Of course these are still present and correct with the red gnomes serving as scare jump material again. If this seems like well-known narrative ground, one soon realizes that everything comes together in unexpected ways, making for a much more suspenseful and mind-boggling experience.
More puzzling characters
The humor is still great with a few self-referential moments, e.g. when the agent comments on the absurdity of being presented with the same sort puzzle he already solved before or when he meets an anthropologist who also records his thoughts on tape, mimicking Tether’s approach to cope with the weird situation and characters. It’s this kind of not-taking-everything-seriously touch that makes the sequel even more enjoyable to play than its predecessor.
The gameplay remains unchanged with many logical, mathematical or sliding puzzles to solve. They’re as fun and varied as ever with even more connected to the actual story, i.e. some can’t be solved before enough information or clues are gathered. However, it’s disappointing to see so many recycled during the short playtime of 3-5 hours, something that wasn’t so prevalent in the first game. Sure, there are way more this time around, and they get trickier, but fewer mathematical problems or arrange-photos-in-their-chronological-order tasks would have been nice.
More or less the same to see and hear
The graphics and sound design are of the same high or minimalist quality as before, and it’s great to see new locations added to the map, something that other Telltale Games titles with their episodic format didn’t always achieve due to recycled environments. If only the same care would have been given to proofreading, then the subtitles would be with fewer spelling and grammatical mistakes.
More or less the same game, but still better
Puzzle Agent 2 might look and play identically to the first game, only with more puzzles. However, the story and characters have much more depth to them. The former might still be a bit convoluted and the latter too weird, but as far as engaging storytelling goes, there aren’t many puzzle games around which are as suspenseful or funny as Nelson Tether’s second adventure.
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