Picking up from the previous Puzzle Agent, the FBI’s problem solving sleuth, Nelson Tethers, is back on the trail of strange goings-on in the town of Scroggins, Minnesota. Not satisfied with the official closure of the case from the first Puzzle Agent, Nelson decides that he’ll use his holiday allowance and head back once more to the snowy wastes to find out what’s going on with the mysterious disappearances that occur in a town that resembles Twin Peaks in terms of its unusual far-fetched fiction.
To work your way through the mystery involves interacting with the odd and thoroughly bizarre inhabitants, questioning them with the help of pre-selected topics and, of course, having to work out the bread and butter of game, the puzzles. These puzzles are of the Professor Layton variety, very much a foxes and chickens type affair. Some are stupidly easy, others are rather clever and involve a little more thought. Then there are the brain hammering, cranium destroying puzzles, those whose job it is to stop you dead and make you drool under the pressure of re-reading the same explanation over and over again, and still coming up with ‘wha..?!’ Don’t worry too much though, as the familiar three hints system is alive and well, the first giving you a draft of the explanation you’ve already read; the second merely reinforcing this and the third pretty much giving it away and telling you the answer.
I admit, I like Puzzle Agent 2. I preferred it to the first, although they are so similar you’ll be excused for thinking they are one of the same. The graphics still follow the same Graham Annable cartoon form as the previous venture, which is what makes Puzzle Agent 2 such a wonderfully colourful puzzler. The humour behind the cartoon animations will bring a grin to the face of even the most stoic of gamers and may even, at times, bring about a slight outburst of laughter.
Telltale Games has done sterling work with the Puzzle Agent series. Although I wasn’t sure at first about the different direction the company had decided to take with series, they’ve hit the nail on the puzzler head. The variety of the puzzles, the challenge and the elements of the story all combine nicely to form a well polished game that will keep you entertained for a good number of hours. How long exactly depends on how much you abuse the hint system. You can fly through the puzzles at a rate of knots if you decide to take the 3 hints to the limit, as regenerating hints can be accomplished by collecting chewing gum that’s stuck to everything, and believe me, there is a lot of chewing gum in Scroggins. Alternatively, you can approach the game with a I-will-solve-all-the-puzzles-without-any-help head on. The latter will take you a while to complete Puzzle Agent 2 and is the recommended route, otherwise you’ll miss the comic element and subject humour.
Puzzle Agent 2 is really good fun. It’s a play during coffee breaks and get that much further kind of game. Myself, I’m usually terrible at puzzle games, I play so far into the game, and then, despite the elements that keep me interested, I get bored with the puzzles. But Puzzle Agent 2 had me hooked. Maybe it was the quirky graphics and feel to the artwork. Perhaps it was the strangely odd story, one of a town and its inhabitants who defy logic and instead go for the jugular of weirdness? Whatever it was, I liked it, and there was just enough material to hint at a possible third instalment. I certainly hope so.
Well done Telltale, Puzzle Agent 2 is the drinking man’s Professor Layton.
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