Puzzle Agent 2 Review (PC)

Game Review: Puzzle Agent 2
Release: 6/30/2011
Genre: Puzzle / Adventure
Developer: Telltale Games
Available Platforms: PC, Mac, iPad, iPhone
Players: 1
MSRP: $9.99
ESRB Rating: N/A (I’d rate it E10)

Playing as Nelson Tethers, FBI: Puzzle Research, Puzzle Agent 2 picks up right where Puzzle Agent left off.  You’ll be revisiting Scoggins, Minnesota to discover more about the mystery of the Hidden People, find missing persons, and uncover lore about the town itself.  All this while you’re on vacation!  Puzzle Agent 2 is primarily an adventure game, with puzzles scattered throughout that must be solved to advance the plot.  You’ll engage in conversation with the town locals as you work to discover the truth behind the disappearance of some of the people in town.

This point and click adventure never delves too deep.  You don’t carry any inventory, won’t explore beyond what is available on your map, and won’t need to manipulate multiple objects in the game.  What you will need to do is talk to townspeople, and solve puzzles.  And while there isn’t much more to the game than that, what’s there works very well.  The unique graphic design will catch your eye, and the high quality voice work on the characters will keep you going through this quirky tale to the end.  I will say that, having not played the first game, I felt I was missing out on some of the inside references made often in the game; characters you meet will talk about things you did in the first game with no exposition.  While most of this information wasn’t part of the critical game plot, it did make some of the dialog excessive, since I didn’t feel like it applied to me.  Fortunately, the main story is easy to follow, even without prior knowledge of the events in Scoggins.

This game is called Puzzle Agent, so of course there are puzzles to solve as well.  These puzzles run the gambit from next-number-in-the-sequence to mazes to moving furniture to create a path in a room.  All told there are around 30 puzzles to solve across this 3 hour or so adventure, so you will have plenty of opportunities to flex the brain muscles.  Should you need them, there are a few hints available for each puzzle.  While it’s technically possible to run out of hints, you can find more than enough hint markers (gum) in the game environment.  You get scored on each puzzle based on how many hints you used, and how many incorrect answers you provided, so there’s some incentive to trying to figure out the puzzles on your own.  All puzzles can also be replayed (but your score remains the same) from the menu.

Puzzle Agent 2 is a very well put-together game.  From the unique graphic style to the excellent sounds and music, you will quickly endear yourself to Nelson’s plight, as well as his quirky mannerisms.  The puzzle presentations themselves are also top quality, with clear directions and easy to navigate menus and options should you need to use them.  The story, while a little wonky, is good, and you will be interested in seeing how it plays out.  The game also keeps things moving fairly well, getting a lot of information across quickly, and always pointing you in the next direction.  This game is not difficult to complete, which makes it ideal for younger gamers.  The hint system works well in the puzzles, and when clicking on areas in the game to find out where to go next, you’re given a nice “radar” around the cursor that expands out to highlight things nearby that can be interacted with (reducing the number of times you need to click around the screen when you’re stuck).

There are a few hangups that I had with the game.  The main beef is with the puzzles themselves: they just lack variety.  You will essentially be completing variants of 4 or 5 puzzle types throughout the game, and by the 4th “move the furniture to create a path” style game, you can’t help but wonder if there wasn’t another puzzle type that could have been worked in.  Speaking of working in, the puzzle’s implementation with the world seems tacked on as well.  Some of the puzzles’ existences are explained, but other times it just felt like you were completing puzzles because the game was called Puzzle Agent 2.  I don’t NEED story integration, but if you do it for half of them, then do it for all of them, or don’t do it at all.  The game is also short, but this might be a blessing in disguise, as you will just be growing tired of both the puzzles and the cramped town by the time the story is reaching its conclusion.

vttym’s take: If you played the first Puzzle Agent, you should certainly pick this up; if for no other reason than to close the loop on some of the open issues from the first one (so I’ve heard).  Those looking for a puzzle game who can’t be bothered with the first one will have to weigh the price against what is a quality, but short and repetitive game.  Telltale Games did an excellent job in creating an experience that stands out with excellent production, but some of the game elements fall a little flat.  I can recommend this game to puzzle enthusiasts (being one myself), but keep your expectations on the actual puzzles low, and just enjoy the ride.

+ Great presentation

+ Characters are unique, and interesting

+ Continues the story from the first game..

– .. and expects you to have played it

– Puzzle variety is lacking

– A tad on the short side of gameplay length
Final Score: 6/10

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