Welcome back to the picturesque Scoggins, Minnesota, where the weather is nice (assuming you think snow is nice), the people are friendly (as long as you don’t ask to many questions), and everything from solving a missing persons case to opening a door requires you to solve a complicated puzzle. Puzzel Agent 2 is the latest game from Tell Tale Games. Picking up right where the first game left off, PA2 sees the FBI’s top (read, only) agent of puzzle investigations Nelson Tethers using his much deserved vacation time to tie up some loose ends in the mysterious town of Scoggins.
As the story unfolds you are asked to solve puzzles. From Pipe Dreams style pathway puzzles, simple logic puzzles, to math puzzles that will have you running for a piece of scratch paper, around every turn you’ll find something that will have you banging your head against the wall until you find the answer. To help you along, the game offers a hint system powered by chewing gum found throughout the game world. You get three hints per puzzle, the first hints is always subtle that sort of points you in the right direction, but once you get to the third and final hint the game basically slaps you across the face with the solution. After each puzzle you are scored from one to ten based on the number hints and attempts you needed to solve it. As you delve deeper into the overall enigma that is Scoggins, the puzzle get harder and harder.
The story in this game is compelling and humorous. The citizens of Skoggins are as inept hiding their conspiracies as Agent Tethers is at uncovering them. The only down side is that it is absolutely necessarily to play the original Puzzle Agent in order to follow the events in this game. At the time I’m writing this Puzzle Agent 1 comes free when you purchase Puzzle Agent 2 on Steam, so you really have no excuse.
Your enjoyment of this game relies on your enjoyment of puzzles, it is in the title after all. Some puzzles in this game are too easy, most have an solution that seem impenetrable at first but become head slapping obvious after careful observation. Upon completing the game I found two puzzles I couldn’t solve, even with all three hints. One had confusing rules that would have benefited from a more visual example, and the other required knowledge of advanced algebraic symbols (not my best subject). All told, I was able to complete these using trial and error with only a low score as punishment.
Two things keep me from giving this game a solid Four stars. For one it’s criminally short and can be beaten in two hours with no real reason to replay it, it may have benefited from randomization so that you’d see new puzzles with each play through. The second problem is that I know puzzles aren’t for everyone, if you’re on the fence about whether you’ll enjoy this game I’ll give you a small taste. Here is the second puzzle the game asks you to solve:
Which number comes next in this sequence 11, 12, 1, 2
If you are doing a Google search on those numbers right now you should probably pass on PA2. If like me, solving a problem like this keeps you up at night weighing possible answers against the limited info you are given until, when you least expect it, the blinding light of epiphany has you shouting “Eureka!” and running down the street in a bath robe, Puzzle Agent 2 is for you.
- Gameplay: 4/5 It’s addictive and fun
- Graphic and Sound: 4/5 The game has a crisp hand draw style that lends itself surprisingly well to both humor and suspense
- Value: 3/5 You’re not getting a whole lot of variety or replay value, but what you do get is still pretty fun.
- Overall: 3.5/5 Recommended to people who love riddles, puzzles, and the movie Fargo