Bejeweled is one of the most popular and addictive puzzle games in the world. Now, I only know of one company that can make it even more addictive than it already is: Infinite Interactive. Creators of a game called Puzzle Quest, they take the basic concept of matching three colored gems, and turn it into a full on RPG. Infinite Interactive has just released a sequel to their ever popular franchise, Puzzle Quest 2, and friends, it time to jump back into the addiction.
The game features three modes: single player, multiplayer and mini games. In single player, you choose from a cast of four different types of characters, each with male and female versions as well as their own unique set of abilities, strengths and weaknesses. The four classes consist of the Barbarian, a brute who focuses on pounding his opponents down. Second is the Assassin, who has very powerful spell attacks from the get go. Third is the Sorcerer, who has a multitude of spells for any situation. Finally is the Templar, who focuses on longwinded battle by having a high defense.
The story mode consists of a long journey to stop an evil demon that has been awakened. You journey across an array of different landscapes, each with its own unique feel and situation. On the Multiplayer side of things, you simply battle against a human opponent, just as you would any normal enemy in the single player. This can be very fun, because a human opponent is a lot more skilled than and not nearly as predictable as some of the AI can be in the story mode. Aside from just normal random battles online, you can also do hero versus hero battles, where you can import your character from your single player story to use in an online battle.
Also, in a cool new local multiplayer mode, you can play a mode called Tournament. This is where you can select up to four members of a team to battle in succession. If one member dies, you substitute in another, and the first one to fully deplete their team loses. Last but not least, you have the mini game mode. In this mode you play some of the mini games found in the main story, such as the lock picking and treasure hunting games I will explain shortly.
There really isn’t much of a change in gameplay for the sequel, just some refinements, but then again, the original formula wasn’t really broken. The concept is simple: battle your opponent in the form of a bejeweled map. Match three colored gems to get to get different forms of Mana to cast spells for stat boosts and attacks. You can also match three Action gems to acquire the ability to attack with a weapon, and match three skulls to launch a normal attack on your opponent. The first player to drop down to zero life points loses.
The battle system this time seems to be much more fast-paced, and only really slows down when you have to take time to make a move. The good part is that you have unlimited time to battle, so if you want to plan out your moves you can, but if you want to just attack, attack, attack, you are able to do that as well. The battle system is simple on the surface, but can become very deep if you take your time to figure out what you want to do.
As you progress through the story mode, you are able to level up your character to gain new abilities and stats, as well as gain new inventory through battle. You are able to customize your created character by adding certain armor and weapons on them. You can also sell certain items back to shopkeepers, which allow you to purchase better weaponry and armor. It really is a fully blown RPG. Other than doing battle, there are some interesting mini games for some of the mundane tasks in the story mode. You are able to pick locks by matching certain lock shaped gems together in a certain amount of turns.
You are also able to bash down barriers and doors this way, as well as find treasure and gain new items from chests. This makes the game feel fleshed out, because you feel very involved rather than just fighting against your opponents. You can also take side quests at any time, and can even make them the priority, and play the way you want to play, without having to trudge through the main story. You hardly ever get lost while you are playing either, as there is always a golden question mark leading you to your next objective, and pushing you forward. Overall, the gameplay is refined to be the absolute best it can be.
The graphics in the game are very unique and stylized. Each character has a very different look to them, and feels very much like a hand painted mural. The game feels almost cartoonish, with the way some of the characters look. The voice acting is good, with a very diverse cast of voices and characters. The music is also very good and very orchestral, and reminds me of classic RPG music design. Overall, I think that the presentation is very well done.
The game does have a downside to it though. As you move along in the story, I found that it can get very frustrating. They start you off slow, but over time, they will not ease up on you. At times that game feels like it is almost working against you, and can become a very great challenge. Now, with that said, it did not deter me from playing the game by any means, which really shows you that it is a very addictive game. Also, if you lose a battle you can immediately battle the same enemy again, without losing any ground, which I found was a nice touch.
As a whole, to any fan of RPGs, as well as puzzle games, I have to recommend you purchase this game. It is fun, addictive and will take you hours and hours to finish. I know there are some people that will be playing this game for the rest of the summer, and they have a very good reason to be. They have taken the almost perfected formula of the first game and made it better, while inviting in new players to experience one of the best puzzle games I have ever played. I hope you all have some space cleared this summer, because one you jump in, it’s really hard to back out.
Review copy provided by publisher.