Review by Thelorme
"J.J. Abrams does Professor Layton"
Telltale Games's Puzzle Agent is back to tie up all the loose ends from the first game
and apparently that was much to ask.
The gameplay : The gameplay of Puzzle Agent 2 is identical to its predecessor : Move through a linear story with clicks of the mouse, interact with people and objects, solve puzzles at regular intervals and so the wheels turn (for a little more detail, I can direct your attention to my review of the first Puzzle Agent game). Puzzles are a simple matter of finding out which number comes next or creating a path by placing tiles or objects on a diagram, and everything in between. Actually, not everything. There's nothing in between. Puzzle Agent 2 offers very little variety in its puzzles. There is about 10 different 'styles'' of puzzle maximum, with the other ones being harder iterations of the initial ones. On top of that's there's not even that much puzzles. 33 in all, including the ones post-game. Not only is there a real drought of puzzles in this game, the few there is are copy-pasted versions of previous ones with another tag-line. Even the original Puzzle Agent at least had around 45 puzzles, with more variety, and that still is on the low side. It's as though Puzzle Agent 2's puzzles mechanic was crammed in in a hurry because all they really wanted to do was tell the story. I do hope that's not actually the case because the story well you'll see.
The story : So it seems they put more emphasis on story than puzzles this time around, and boy does it show. Not in the good way, mind. I mentioned J.J. Abrams in the tagline because that's the impression the story gave me. Puzzle Agent 1, I felt, was told by David Lynch like an episode of Twin Peaks. Puzzle Agent 2 feels like an episode of LOST. The sixth season ones, where all the questions are seemingly answered, but not in a satisfactory way. But enough of American pop-culture. You follow Nelson Tethers, FBI's top agent in the Puzzle Division, out on vacation in the little town of Scoggins, Minnesota. One month ago, he solved a problem in the Eraser factory, but was left with multiple questions. Now, he's back to uncover the whole truth behind the foreman Isaac Davner's disappearance and the mythical Hidden People. I hope the truth brought him peace because it brought me disappointment.
The story is one wagon short of a train wreck. Puzzle Agent 1's story was left purposely (I hoped) hollow to boggle our minds. I don't know why they felt the need to come back and patch all the holes, but it was done in such a way that made me wish they never answered my questions. And that's coming from the guy who openly raged at the lack of answers in his review of the first game. The story is a mess, extremely hard to follow because it goes in four different places at once. Same as last time, I'm going to spoil as little as possible, so I won't mention any details. I'll just say that there came a point where I didn't understand what I was supposed to understand. Let me make this clear : Some stories, a good example being horror stories about a fictional killer, will introduce an element (said killer) that may or may not be real and it's the task of the viewer to decide whether or not he or she wants to believe in it, up until the end where the answer is revealed. Puzzle Agent 2 tries to do that, but with four or five different elements. It gets to a point where I just couldn't understand what I was chasing, what Nelson Tethers considered real and fake and whether or not he was right. It's hard to explain without any details, but basically, there comes a point where there is just too much stuff going around, that could all be real or make-belief, and the story trips over itself. Things just keep getting proven, then disproven, then proven again up until the end. And boy what an ending. Convoluted, unsatisfying, and there are STILL plot holes left. Some of the most important elements are left unexplained and the ones that are contradict with each other.
The style : This is where I run out of things to say. They haven't changed Adam nor Eve about the graphics and sound of the game. The character models are the same, the backgrounds as well. There are a few new characters but 90% of them are the townspeople of Scoggins we got to know the first time around. But that's okay, I loved the style of Puzzle Agent 1, with the frame-by frame animation, the simple music, atmospheric sounds and lovely hand-drawn everything. There's a real charm to the choppy animations and simple character design. If nothing else, Puzzle Agent 2 is still a beautiful graphic novel interrupted by unimaginative puzzles. I'd also like to congratulate the voice actors for this game. It's top notch quality, for the most part. The actor who voices Nelson Tethers goes a long way to make the character likeable.
The Time : Boy and I remember saying Puzzle Agent 1 was short. This installment kept me around for less than three hours and handed me out only 30 puzzles to complete. You can replay every puzzle, including the ones you missed once you finished the game but when you know the trick to each one, the fun just isn't there, and I sure won't be replaying this thing for the story.
Overall : Writing this review, I just realized something. You know what Puzzle Agent 2 is? It's the missing half of Puzzle Agent 1. Not as in a sequel, as in literally the third act of the game Nelson Tether's Puzzle Agent. If you fuse together both games as one, you get a 7 hours, 90 puzzles, story-driven, beautiful and well voiced, adventure game that's definitely worth your time and money. Sure that won't change the bad ending but the build-up to it was the fun part. Just like LOST
In numbers :
The Gameplay : 6/10 (Same as last time, except for the copy-pasted and unimaginative puzzles)
The Story : 4/10 (Good at first but it completely falls apart halfway through)
The Time : 5/10 (Way too short, this is only half a game)
The Looks : 9/10 (To quote my first review : Beautiful and atmospheric)
Overall : 4/10.
Reviewer's Score: 4/10 | Originally Posted: 08/11/11
Game Release: Puzzle Agent 2 (US, 06/30/11)
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