Gnome place like home
Typical. I was just putting the finishing touches to my Puzzle Agent 2 review when Telltale informed be that they were providing an update to the game.
Playing through again to find out whether the changes were game-changing mirrors the frustration I found in not being able to solve some of the more obscure puzzles in the town of Scoggins. But then this is a puzzle game with adventure elements and being stuck is a given.
For those who haven't had a chance to play the first Puzzle Agent, the game centres around Agent Nelson Tethers of the FBI. He specialises in puzzles and is therefore very suited to the puzzling town of Scoggins that he's sent to investigate. A mission from the White House, no less, sends him to the town in an attempt to unravel the mystery behind the closure of the Eraser Factory.
Wind forward a few years and Tethers is still unable to shake the strange town from his mind. After a man in a Space Suit appears, the agent finds himself back in Scoggins and back in the midst of another adventure full of missing townspeople.
It's clear from the outset that the the format of Puzzle Agent 2, like the first game, borrows heavily from the puzzle adventure Professor Layton. That's no bad thing, though, considering how highly regarded the Nintendo game is. Telltale's game also has the benefit of the minimalist sketch-based artwork of Graham Annable to recommend it. The art really does work with the kooky storyline.
Puzzles are the meat of the game, but they're also what sometimes lets it down. Many of these are standard logical puzzles that can be solved with a small amount of brain work, but some are obscure and the hint system, which gives you a hint for every piece of chewing gum you find dotted around the scenery, isn't exactly very helpful. Hints range from telling you exactly what the initial puzzle instructions told you to giving you the answer. The reward system is based on how many tries you took to get the puzzle right and how many hints you used.
As with other Telltale games, the mechanics sometimes leave a lot to be desired when played on older devices. The game often kept quitting on my 3GS, while it worked perfectly on my iPad. However, the recent update has solved a few of the issues and the game does seem to be a lot smoother on older hardware now. It still struggles every so often and dialogue is sometimes lost in the process.
Where Puzzle Agent 2 succeeds, then, is with the story and the art. Both compliment each other well with their kooky style. The game often feels like Twin Peaks crossed with Professor Layton (which is a good thing). It doesn't move things on drastically from the first game, but then it keeps what worked so well and builds on it.
Voice acting is excellent as well, with a range of weird and wonderful voices giving life to the odd characters who inhabit the snowy town. The whispering hidden people still give me the creeps.
Puzzle Agent 2 still has issues. Puzzles aren't balanced well enough and often arrive at the detriment of the story. Taken as a whole, though, I enjoyed my stay in Scoggins for a second time and fans of the first game won't be disappointed with this sequel either.
- Sound: 9
- Graphics: 10
- Gameplay: 8
- Longevity: 8
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