Puzzle Quest 2 Hands-On

Infinite Interactive is taking Puzzle Quest back to its fantasy roots with the upcoming sequel.

If Puzzle Quest: Galactrix's sci-fi trappings and hexagonal battle board left you feeling cold, then perhaps a straight shot of retro Puzzle Quest will bring you back into full-on PQ addiction. That's the bet that developer Infinite Interactive is making with the upcoming Puzzle Quest 2, a sequel to the original swords-and-sorcery puzzle adventure game Puzzle Quest: Challenge of the Warlords from 2007. The game is due for release this summer on Xbox Live and the Nintendo DS. And, as we found out during some hands-on time earlier today, Infinite Interactive has tweaked the formula of the original game without upsetting the apple cart completely.

Though technically a sequel, PQ2's storyline and characters have nothing in common with the original game. This time around, you play as a lone adventurer who discovers Verloren; an unhappy city that has a connection to a mysterious nearby castle. Your goal is to uncover that connection--to do so, much hacking and slashing must occur. Put more accurately, much gem matching must occur, which will then allow you to hack and slash the various enemies you'll encounter in the game's single-player adventure.

Matching gems of the same color in three-, four-, and five-count rows is still at the heart of PQ2's gameplay, but unlike Galactrix, PQ2 is still played in a rectangular grid with gems dropping down from the top. However, the changes that have been implemented are subtle at first, and they have some significant impact on gameplay. For instance, experience points and gold have been removed from the grid--you now earn money and experience after a battle is finished. In its place, purple mana has been added (along with associated spells that use purple mana). There are also gauntlets strewn throughout, and matching them will earn you action points that will let you attack with any of your equipped weapons.

A focus on weapons and items over the spells that were such a huge part of the original Puzzle Quest is another difference. Though spells play a big role in combat (especially if you're playing as the sorcerer class), attacking with weapons can be just as effective, as we found out when playing with a barbarian-class character. This class can dual-wield weapons and use two-handed weapons (such as the bastard sword). A single swipe of our character's axe did a hefty 10 points of damage to an opponent. A character's defensive rating can affect the amount of damage he or she (or it) takes, and you can cast spells, as well as wear armor, that will increase your armor rating.

Your character has a number of slots for items that you collect during your adventures; two slots for weapons, shields, or potions you can wield in battle and four slots for armor (head, body, legs). After battles, you'll also pick up elemental items you can use later in the game to improve your weapons and armor.

In true Puzzle Quest fashion, you'll be matching gems on the play grid even when you aren't immersed in combat. There are occasional challenges you'll run into as you go; early in the game's tutorial, you'll need to fight a raging fire by battling it on the grid. Of course, the fire can't fight back, but if you unwittingly match red gems, the fire will gain strength. Another challenge required us to bash down a castle door; in gameplay terms, we had to cause a set amount of damage to the door in a certain number of turns in order to succeed. There's also a treasure-hunting minigame that you'll occasionally find after beating a monster where you can earn cash by matching gold, silver, or bronze coins or special items like potions by matching keys on the playing grid.

Beyond the subtleties of gameplay, Puzzle Quest 2 has an art style all its own--forgoing the manga influence of the first game for a more Western art style. In addition, the game's interface has changed a bit--instead of moving around a character icon on a map of the world as in the original game, the camera is drawn down closer into the world. In the tutorial, for example, you'll explore the city of Verloren and interact with individual townsfolk as you go.

Puzzle Quest 2 will feature four character classes: the offensively minded, magic-using sorcerer; the weapons-first barbarian; the defensively strong templar; and the stealthy assassin. All of these character classes will have strengths and weaknesses of their own. You'll be able to pit those characters against the game's single-player campaign or against other players via online multiplayer in the Xbox Live version of the game and via ad hoc wireless on the Nintendo DS. Our brief time with the game was just that…all too brief, and we look forward to sinking more time into the game in the near future.

There's no firm release date for Puzzle Quest 2 yet, but publisher D3 is expecting the game to come out this summer.

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26 comments
Payback7
Payback7

Can't wait!!! LOVED the first one till my bro's dog chewed up the cartridge!! WAAAAA!!! Please hurry D3! hehe

King9999
King9999

Sounds like this game has a loot system. I hope they go all out with it. I'm totally looking forward to PQ2, but I hope they eliminate the technical issues the first two games had (on the DS, anyway).

Dualmask
Dualmask

It sounds very cool. The changes to the gameplay sound really interesting. I never liked the whole gold on the battlefield thing because even in a lengthy battle you got it in such miniscule amounts, and it was only really good for affecting certain spells. I hope it gets successful enough to go on all the other consoles the way the original did, especially PSP and/or PSN. If not, I'll just have to settle for the DS version. One way or the other though, I'm playing this.

Bigcol1611
Bigcol1611

The first game was never out of my DS for about 6 months, cant wait for this little beauty to grace the UK shores!! :)

PsiPhiTy1
PsiPhiTy1

WOW, I didn't think they could out-do the first one but I guess I stand corrected. This added style really looks interesting, now I am anxious for it to drop asap...

huntervaneg
huntervaneg

I enjoyed the first one, I hope the same for the upcoming title..!!! :)

B45AK
B45AK

Really excited for this. I dig the western art style they went with. I do wonder what the scope of the game is however. Will we still be traversing the world conquering strongholds and taming mounts or just traveling through villages fighting goblins.

Robtwice
Robtwice

Super stoked about this one. The first one was addicting enought. Cant wait to see it

Ceraby
Ceraby

I enjoyed the first one so I'll probably get this one as well, even though I think I'd miss the first game's art style.

phimseto
phimseto

I enjoyed the nation-spanning story of the first game: the stronghold, side quests, recruiting allies, etc.. This doesn't sound nearly as interesting.

Redman1984
Redman1984

Why do we have to wait unitl June 30??? I want to continue with the Puzzle Question addiction now!

WoW_Nirss
WoW_Nirss

looks great, but I wonder how the DS version will compare.

SaberSpellSword
SaberSpellSword

I'm a huge fan of the puzzle quest series. I loved the first game, and if it wasn't for the hacking in galactrix i would have loved that one as well.

awesome
awesome

I second LozzaGS opinion...I got the 1st one on BOTH DS & PSP, but the PSP version is much sharper & smoother with better effects... here hoping one day D3Publisher will see the light...

VisceriousZERO
VisceriousZERO

i love puzzle quest so much... glad its coming back. Hallelujah!

LozzaGS
LozzaGS

Can't wait! Wish it was on the PSP again though - will buy the DS version, but it won't be the same. Even with the companion bug, it worked so well on that format.

Hanzoadam
Hanzoadam

I enjoyed the 1st one but I'll have to wait till it gets announced for PS3

Hanzoadam
Hanzoadam

[This message was deleted at the request of the original poster]

sergioalb64
sergioalb64

Still no online play for DS? Come on, now, this is their fourth chance (counting Puzzle Kingdoms, which is actually better than Galactrix IMHO). I'll still buy it on DS; stylus controls for the win.

-DaNuTz-
-DaNuTz-

what the .... no PC version ? disappointing

jsrco
jsrco

@awesome - I owned every version of the first one. The PSP had a huge companion bug in it. And paled in comparison to the XBL version. However.... I really wish they were developing this for all systems.

bgres077
bgres077

Interesting no PC version

awesome
awesome

Not intersted unless its for PS3 or PSP, The first PQ was much better on PSP than DS- as good as the xbox live version..dare i say!....D3Publisher are u struggling to code for sony's machines quick enough? or has M$ shown you thier bastard sword?

Nintendo_Man
Nintendo_Man moderator

I am pumped for this. I also found the name bastard sword, humourous.