E3 2011: Puzzle Agent Preview Impressions

We got our first look at the sequel to last year's clever adventure game.

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In the real world, the FBI is concerned with catching criminals through conventional means, but video games can go far beyond such trivialities. Puzzle Agent 2 follows the investigations of Agent Nelson Tethers from the prestigious Puzzle Research Division. This follow-up to last year's surprise hit continues Tether's exploits as he attempts to find out where a bevy of missing people in the town of Scoggins, Minnesota, disappeared to. We saw a hands-off preview earlier today that took us through a couple of puzzles and one very awkward encounter.

Telltale describes Puzzle Agent 2 as a combination of the gameplay from Professor Layton and the dark humor from the movie Fargo. From our brief time with the game, that comparison seemed accurate, though the puzzles had more immediate relation to the situations you would find in Level 5's portable hit. For instance, Tethers came to a door barred by all manner of chains, planks, and locks. You need to smash your way through with your trusty chainsaw, but you have only one swipe (for some reason). After careful analysis, you select exactly where you want to hit the door and then send your hypothesis to the FBI for further analysis. If it's OK, you solve the puzzle. Your score is tallied by how much money you cost tax payers, which is an irreverent way to link these wacky events to reality.

Humor is approached more from an awkward vantage point than from one that revels in slapstick or obvious shticks. When Tethers breaks into the sheriff's office, he is surprised to find the police chief inside. The two have a stilted conversation that contains lengthy pauses and searching eyes, and it's enough to make you want to squirm in your seat while you're playing.

Our demo continued with a conversation between Tethers and the sexy seductress Melkorka. She's as smart as she is beautiful, which makes her more intimidating than Tethers can handle. He gulps like a nervous teenager, stuttering his way through dialogue with a cringe-worthy rhythm that will delight people who love feeling uncomfortable.

Puzzle Agent 2 is shaping up to be a funny and clever follow-up to its popular predecessor. Keep your eyes on GameSpot in the coming months for more details as they become available. Puzzle Agent 2 is set to come out later this year.

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