Review: Puzzle Agent 2

August 5th, 2011 by | 1 lonely comment

Since the pilot episode of Puzzle Agent, we’ve had to wait quite a while for the sequel. The first part was promising enough though, so it’s a good thing we finally got a part two! Does it live up to its expectations? Is it an improvement over its predecessor, or is it a step back? Read on to see what I thought of it!

If you’re reading this review, you’re probably already familiar with the general premise of the Puzzle Agent series: you play as secret agent Nelson Tethers, solving puzzles to advance the story and eventually uncover a mystery. You’ll find that that’s not the only thing to have stayed the same, however. Like the first instalment, Puzzle Agent 2 takes place in Scoggins, Minnesota. That means you’ll encounter mostly the same characters and places, which more than once will give you a feeling of déjà vu.

But perhaps we should focus on the puzzles, since those are the meat of the game, right? Well, not really. All the while I had a feeling of watching a story unfold, with puzzles sprinkled in here and there. For a game that’s supposed to be all about puzzles, I had hoped for more puzzle-solving and less yapping.

But there are still a fair few puzzles, and you just want to know if they’re any good. Well, it’s a mixed bag. Some puzzles – notably those based on tried-and-true puzzle concepts – are hits, others are misses. This is mainly due to Telltale wanting to ‘theme’ the puzzles in order to make them fit into the story. However, at times this means they have compromised solid puzzle design in order to make it fit in with the theme.

Even more serious is the lack of clarity in some of the puzzles. At times I felt like I hadn’t a clue what to do to solve a puzzle. Sometimes it took several times of rereading the instructions (which could have been easily fixed with better proofreading), sometimes even after that I was still scratching my head. Other puzzles on the other hand were way too easy, and the difficult ones owed their difficulty mainly to lack of clarity.

All in all, I feel that it would have been better if Telltale had remained more faithful to ‘old’ puzzle concepts (arranging matchsticks and coins, things like that). They took a brave choice, but then, discretion is the better part of valour. Also, the story-to-puzzle ratio is way too high. When I’m a puzzle agent working for the FBI, I just want to solve puzzles, dammit! I give this one 6.5 sticks of chewing gum out of a packet that contains 10.

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