Puzzle Agent 2 is simply more of the same.
The original Puzzle Agent was an amazing game, as it had a unique aesthetic, its setting was quite amusing, it had a weird sense of humor and it featured some really complex puzzles. The most prominent issue with the game was that most puzzles were poorly explained and most of them were extremely convoluted, even when using the not-so-helpful hint system. Now, a year later a sequel is released. The first thing you’ll probably notice while playing the game is that Graham Annable’s inimitable style is still prominently used and it fits Puzzle Agent 2 quite well, but even though aesthetics are important, puzzles represent the core of the game. Unfortunately, these still suffer from some inconsistencies.
Puzzle Agent 2 has a very simple but well-delivered presentation. The main character, called Agent Tethers, goes back to Scoggins, Minnesota to try and solve some mysteries in town. The setting and characters are still really charming, even when most of them have been completely recycled. Reused content includes: characters, music, the graphics engine, voice acting, some plot elements and so on. So unluckily for those who played the original Puzzle Agent, this sequel can be a little too familiar and you’ll definitely have a sense of déjà vu while playing it.
The incomparable and bizarre sense of humor is still present and it incorporates elements from Fargo, Stanley Kubrik films and Professor Layton. What was really good about this approach is that the original Puzzle Agent combined so many different things that ultimately made it feel refreshingly unique. Now, this represents a problem as the game is copying itself and it features so many recycled elements that make Puzzle Agent 2 seem way too similar to its predecessor. Gameplay has remained pretty much the same, you can use the mouse for all the basic controls and menus, and you can also use chewing gum to see some hints if you get stuck at any point in the game. In addition, puzzles are standard and you’ll need to find a combination of numbers, rotate dials, move tiles, crack codes and things of that nature.
Additionally and even though some of the issues with the poorly explained puzzles have been addressed, most of them still feel really difficult. This is a shame because puzzles are brilliantly designed and all of them make you think and engage you more in the story. As a consequence, and if you can’t solve some of the puzzles, you’ll have to use an FAQ, ruining the experience of finding out what you’re supposed to do by yourself. Another possibility when you don’t clearly understand these is to try to solve them through trial-and-error. Also and even though the hint-system is still included in the game, most hints are useless and obtuse.
Furthermore, the game has a tendency to force you to listen to many lines of dialogues that add nothing meaningful to the story and only represent a shallow element between the story itself and solving more puzzles. Puzzle Agent 2 had the potential to be a really memorable game as it features funny characters, a bizarre story, great art design and outstanding voice acting, but the fact that the game adds nothing relevant to the franchise, wastes that opportunity.
Puzzle Agent 2 looks really good. As the original, this iteration features unique hand-drawn backgrounds and characters designed by Graham Annable. This comic book-like aesthetic is really unparalleled, the only problem with it is that this has been previously used and its inclusion is starting to wear thin. Soundwise, the game is simply superb and this element is the one that stands out the most. All characters have really suiting voices and the fact that each one uses a really distinct accent creates a more convincing and lifelike effect. Apart from that, there are also some other sound effects here and there and they are accurate enough to create a good atmosphere for the adventure to take place.
If you’re one of those people who really enjoyed playing the original Puzzle Agent and wanted to play more of it, this game is perfect for you. On the other hand, if you liked the first one and didn’t think it was that charming and wanted something different or more polished, you definitely won’t find it here. Everything in this sequel feels familiar and recycled, and that’s really disappointing.