Honestly, having never played the original Puzzle Agent, I went into this review without expecting much. To my utter surprise (and subsequent delight) I found a brief but thoroughly intriguing experience within Puzzle Agent 2. For those who find themselves in my position of having never played the first game, there’s no need to worry about not being able to pick up what’s going on. The game features a synopsis of the events from the initial outing – a good thing considering Puzzle Agent 2 picks up right after the original finishes.
Puzzle Agent Nelson Tethers works for the FBI’s Puzzle Research Division. He does exactly what his title suggests: solves cases by solving a myriad of puzzles that just happen to stand in between the criminals and cold, hard justice. His previous adventure saw him investigating the disappearance of a factory foreman in a small town called Scoggins. Not satisfied by the outcome of the case, Tethers returns to Scoggins apparently on vocation, but reopens his investigation without the FBI’s knowledge. Naturally, his gut feeling is correct and very soon he is thrown back into a sinister mystery shrouded in Scoggins folklore, kidnappings, cults, gnomes, yetis and spacemen. To say any more would ruin pretty much the best part of Puzzle Agent 2: the intrigue inherent in the case agent Tethers is trying to solve.
This is not your standard point-and-click adventure game. You have no inventory and your onscreen interaction is very limited. That is, however, not such a bad thing; the game’s primary mechanic entails you solving a stack (thirty-three in total) of puzzle. Onscreen objects will either trigger some dialogue or begin one of the puzzles. In order to progress in that particular area you’ll need to complete the puzzle.
The puzzles themselves suffer from a little bit of repetition. None of them are identical, but there are a couple of the puzzle types that are repeated during the game. For a title that fundamentally relies on the merits of its puzzles, it manages to entertain most of the time. The game does have a built-in puzzle hint system, but the answer will never be given to you in its entirety. Each hint uses up a hint token and lowers your overall grading once the puzzle is complete. Similarly, getting the wrong answer damages your grading but you’re allowed to reattempt finding the solution as many times as necessary. There are hint tokens to be found hidden around the various screens so keep your eyes peeled.
A puzzle game made up of thirty-three puzzles, not all of which are totally captivating, so why is this game so enjoyable? Quite simply: the intrigue of the story and the characters themselves. Scoggins is loaded with memorable characters, each of which benefit from excellent voice acting and some seriously funny script writing. To top it off the music does a great job of setting the tone, and the ever increasing levels of insanity will keep you hooked as the plot progresses. If you’re looking for a two to three hour bite of something out of the ordinary, look no further than Puzzle Agent 2.