The lights are on
Puzzle Quest 2 is on track to deliver all the familiar mechanics of the original in a great new framework of adventure and exploration.
The original Puzzle Quest had that rare combination of engaging but simple mental puzzles and addictive progression that made hardcore gamers sit and play for dozens of hours, even though the baseline experience was only a few steps past a casual game of Bejeweled. Last month, GDC afforded the opportunity to take a brief glimpse of the new game in action. This month, we dig deeper into the gameplay options the game presents, and take a look at some of the game's great art and screens, along with the its first trailer.
Puzzle Quest 2 shakes up the surrounding trappings of the game with a new fantasy world, a more dynamic character development system, and a tighter lens on the action. But the core battle-oriented matching system is familiar and just as fun as it was the first time around. At least, that’s how it seems after the first couple of hours. We’ve yet to dive into the full final game, which is scheduled to come out sometime late this spring on both Xbox Live Arcade and Nintendo DS. However, we explored all the new character classes and got a firm handle on the game’s new mechanics as we delved into the early quests.Players have four classes to pick from as they enter the world of Puzzle Quest 2, and both gender options are available for each class. The Barbarians are well-rounded and straightforward battlers – they have strong offense and defense, and the best two-handed weapons are reserved for them. The Assassins have high damage powers – like the starting ability Sneak Attack – and they have exclusive access to high-level poisons. Sorcerers have low life points, but their spells offer the most diverse gameplay, dealing high damage one turn only to alter the board on the next. The last class, the Templar, seems designed to appeal to careful, deliberate players. High defense and the highest life point totals make them hard to take down in a fight – a feature accentuated by their ability to wear plate armor and use massive tower shields.
Once we picked our hero and chose one of three difficulty settings, we were treated to the game’s intro, as narrated by our chosen character. Sent to investigate the troubled town of Verloren (in German, “verloren” means “lost." Get it? The Lost Town?), it’s clear from the start that more is afoot than some recent disappearances. A huge tower is buried in the ice near Verloren, and the visit of a female paladin seems to have disturbed the slumber of a long-imprisoned daemon. Our hero has been sent to investigate the buried depths of this tower to uncover the truth.The first quests of the game are oriented at getting players familiar with the game’s basic concepts. Unlike the first Puzzle Quest, this sequel pulls the camera in to a close isometric view, allowing you to guide your character around an area to speak with individual townspeople and creatures, challenge different monsters, and investigate strange sights. The vaguely manga styling of the first game has been replaced by a solidly western aesthetic of fantasy art, and each screen is packed with detail and color. Initially, it’s all about pushing back a goblin raid that threatens to overwhelm Verloren, which gave a good picture of how the gameplay has changed this time around. In our early battles with the goblin invaders, the trade-off of turns between you and your opponent remains the same – match three or more of the same color gems to build up mana, or attack your enemy by matching skulls. Experience and gold no longer show up on the board, but there are a few new gem types to consider. Purple gems are now a fifth type of mana to fuel your powers. In addition, the new gauntlet gems add a third way to deal damage beyond skull matching and spells. Matching gauntlets builds up your weapon power, which can be used to swing the implements equipped to either your left or right hand. Even with these adjustments, the matching game feels incredibly straightforward, and should be a welcome return to gamers who were put off by the gravity-oriented system of the sci-fi spin-off, Galactrix.
Email the author Matt Miller, or follow on Game Informer.
this looks good!
I'm so jealous of anyone who has gotten to play this already. I'm dying to get my hands on it.
i want to try this. Until then, back to pokemon puzzle league
While this may prove to be fun and I ultimately may purchase it, the last line in particular, "It’s easy to foresee many hours lost in the dungeon crawl beyond." just made me want Diablo 3 even more.. and sooner.
Sweet! The first one was quite intriguing, so I'll be looking forward to this one.
I'm looking forward to this, but I wish it were coming out on PSP.
One of these days, I need to DL the expansion to the first game. :)
the art is an upgrade from the first game
Very exciting! I can't wait.
I just wish we could get in on Live the same day it comes out on the DS.
this looks amazing. not much of a puzzle gamer though. hope its for ps3
@ Adrian Metcalf
Same here. I really want to play this on Live, but I want to play it so bad that I simply can't wait any longer than June 22.