|System: X360, DS||Review Rating Legend|
|Dev: Infinite Interactive||1.0 - 1.9 = Avoid||4.0 - 4.4 = Great|
|Pub: D3 Publisher||2.0 - 2.4 = Poor||4.5 - 4.9 = Must Buy|
|Release: Spring 2010||2.5 - 2.9 = Average||5.0 = The Best|
|Players: 1||3.0 - 3.4 = Fair|
|ESRB Rating: Pending||3.5 - 3.9 = Good|
by Andrew Groen
April 7, 2010 - Puzzle Quest: Challenge of the Warlords was one of the most surprising breakout hits of 2007. It's incredibly unique take on high-fantasy role-playing captured gamers' and critics' hearts in a way nobody ever thought possible, especially from such an unknown game from an non-major publisher. However, it's partial sequel, Puzzle Quest: Galactrix failed to recapture that same spark.
In Galactrix, Critics bemoaned the way battles' victories felt somewhat random and the lack of a compelling narrative. Now, Infinite Interactive has been given another chance to breathe new life into their franchise by getting back to their roots. Puzzle Quest 2 returns to its original high-fantasy setting, but can D3 Publisher and Infinite catch lightning in a bottle once again?
They're not crazy enough to try to reproduce the exact same product, though. They've made some significant changes to the formula, now that they have a better feel for who their audience is in the West. To begin with, the art style has seen something of an overhaul. They're saying that it has more of a "western" feel that fits with the somewhat more dungeon-crawler-esque gameplay that they've designed. They're actually willing to make comparisons to Diablo as crazy as that may sound coming from a game that handles its combat via Bejeweled wars.
The influence that may not be as apparent, though, is actually World of Warcraft. Quest givers have big golden exclamation points over their heads, and even the classes (by the developers' own admission) are much more like a traditional MMO. There's the damage-dealing barbarian, the crowd-control focused sorcerer, the healer, and the Templar tanking class.
Having apparently learned a few lessons from the development of Galactrix, Infinite seems to have a much clearer sense of direction as far as how to create a better Puzzle Quest experience. As previously mentioned, the game has gone back to fantasy and the story now involves an ancient daemon trapped beneath the ice of the northern lands. At the outset of the story, our hero is sent out on a mission to figure out what is going on in the town adjacent to this icy tomb. People have started to go missing and at the outset it's your job to figure out the problem.
Furthermore, the combat has seen some enhancements as well. Gone are the old gold and experience tokens on the battlefield of Challenge of the Warlords. In their place is a whole new kind of magic (the purple tokens) and a new fist-shaped token which awards "action points," which can then be used to activate weapons and shields.
When Galactrix was released, the gaming world hardly even noticed. The combat system was overly complicated with odd gravity effects, and the story took eons just to get interesting. The main theme that we took away from this demo is that Infinite now knows precisely what was wrong with their last game and what made its first game so great. With any luck, the team will be able to put together another amazing product for gamers to enjoy when it releases this Spring.
CCC Freelance Writer