More puzzle adventure in the snowy town of Scoggins.
Upon returning from Scoggins after the conclusion of the first Puzzle Agent game, Nelson Tethers is left with an uneasy feeling that there is more going on in the bizarre Minnesota town than he originally discovered. As a dedicated member of the FBI’s Puzzle Research Department, he dutifully passes his caseload onto a co-worker and takes some vacation time, heading back to Scoggins to, once and for all, get to the bottom of these strange goings-on.
And so it is, in this second installment of Telltale Games’ Puzzle Agent, that Nelson Tethers returns to Scoggins, interacts with old characters and new, solves puzzles and chews gum. The overriding sense of uneasiness about the town of Scoggins and it’s inhabitants is once again present, offering a Twin Peaks style feeling where everything has a menacing undertone, which is further compounded by the excellently suspenseful background music.
The memorable story from the first game is continued in this sequel with Nelson beginning by trying to track down the missing Eraser Factory Foreman and trying to work out if “the hidden people” are real or just a figment of his imagination. However, this time around things take a slightly more confusing twist as the story progresses (yep, more confusing than the first game) and players may well be left with more questions than answers. That being said, the quirky characters of the town make the story almost as memorable as the first. Following on so completely from the original game, it should be noted that players who maybe passed up on the first adventure will find themselves not really understanding what the hell is going on, as the game assumes a certain amount of familiarity on the part of the player. If you have never played the first, it is worth picking it up before diving into Puzzle Agent 2.
The gameplay revolves around solving puzzles and traveling from one area to another whilst talking with the locals. In the same way as the first, players will use a map to travel from one area to the next, as the investigation requires, and then talk with the quirky characters found there. Most of the characters will have puzzles for the player to solve in order to get the information they require. Players will also be able to move around these environments by using doors and such to reach new areas.
Agent Tethers unhealthy habit of chewing second-hand gum to help him solve puzzles also returns, with pieces of used gum being used to finance the hint system. Each area that nelson visits will have pieces of gum hidden around the scene that the player will have to collect should they wish for help with the puzzles.
However, not much gum will be needed in this sequel. The 35 puzzles, which are arguably the most important aspect of the game, appear to be much simpler than before. There are a couple of head-scratchers in there, but for the most part a competent gamer will have no problems dealing with the conundrums found within, which is a real shame. The result is a game that feels unsatisfying in it’s puzzle solving and whilst the game will keep the player entertained for around four hours, that entertainment will mostly come from the story rather than the puzzles themselves.
Puzzle Agent 2 looks and sounds good, is very well polished and has an intriguing, if somewhat confusing, story. But the most important aspect, the puzzles, are just not as impressive. It is great to see Nelson Tethers return, but newcomers will not be seeing the only agent of the FBI Puzzle Solving Department at his best here.