Players start the sequel to Puzzle Agent with Agent Nelson Tethers back in Washington DC staring up at the moon. But in short order, he finds himself once again in the familiar Scoggins, Minnesota territory for this second installment of his story brought to life on the iPad.
I reviewed the first Puzzle Agent game nearly a year ago and found it to be a cute, stress-relieving form of entertainment to unwind with after a long day at work. It sometimes taxed (though never overheated) my mind with puzzles that ranged from grossly obvious to mildly challenging.
This second game is a continuation of the first in many ways. New puzzles and storyline are combined with game engine, mechanics and play styles from the original. Agent Tethers also returns to the Scoggins, Minnesota stomping grounds from the first game. Thus, if you enjoyed playing the first game, you will probably enjoy this sequel as well. Puzzle Agent 2 HD did seem to be shorter start-to-finish compared to the original, though not by much. Perhaps its the familiarity with the characters and the interface. I also found the puzzles (35 in all) easier compared to the first game. Dragging puzzle elements around on screen is intuitive, and the hint system is like the one from the original, deducting points from your total score for each hint requested.
Unfortunately, problems from the first game are also carried over to Puzzle Agent 2 as well. Full screen interludes consist of herky-jerky animation, sound glitches and blurry looking cartoon character sketches. Once the game's puzzles are solved, there's no incentive to go back and replay the game. This is unfortunate, since many of the puzzles could have easily benefited from randomized elements to re-engage players again and again. Perhaps the most disappointing of all is the fact that of all the worldly locations Agent Tethers could have partaken this new adventure, the designers opted for the same locale that gamers interacted with in the first game. Perhaps the game designers and Agent Tether's cartoonist creator Graham Annabel were going for a comedic Twin Peaks, but I found myself losing interest in the story and wanting to get on with the puzzle aspects instead.
Overall, I was entertained playing Puzzle Agent 2 HD though not as much as the original game. Agent Tethers needs to solve a larger variety of puzzles ranging from easy to mind-melting and a lot more of them to satisfy the pricey privilege to play the game. If there is a Puzzle Agent 3, consider assignments beyond the Scoggins borders. And if the designers insist on keeping the majority of the story and puzzles within Scoggins city limits, make the town more interesting with folklore, zany history and hidden locations (akin to the Red Room in Twin Peaks, how about a Green Room in Scoggins) that expose secret motivations behind Agent Tethers' interest in puzzles? Hopefully Telltale will reward fans with a clincher trilogy that addresses the problems in the first two games and bring a satisfying conclusion to the Puzzle Agent storyline.
Title: Puzzle Agent 2 HD
Rating: 3/5 stars