The overworld map from Puzzle Quest: Challenge of the Warlords is gone. Infinite Interactive revamped Puzzle Quest 2’s interface and made the game dungeon crawling… lite.
You can’t freely crawl along walls, though. Puzzle Quest 2’s dungeon crawling system lets players move from one node to the next. The invisible path may lead to a goblin (like the warrior above), a mission, or a door smashing mini-game (match doors to smash). There are actual “dungeons” to explore too with dead ends to get lost in and treasure rooms to discover.
While the psuedo-dungeons are a nice addition, Puzzle Quest 2 is very much Puzzle Quest, but not Puzzle Quest: Galactrix. The Bejeweled-style match three puzzle board returns with an extra type of mana and gauntlets. Match gauntlets to active your character’s weapons, which act like equipable special attacks. Compared to the original, Puzzle Quest 2 has more customization options. You can outfit your hero assigned to one of four selectable classes (assassin, barbarian, sorcerer, and templar) with a sword, shield, and multiple types of armor.
Another change I noticed is Puzzle Quest 2 isn’t as merciless as the first game. The computer turned a blind eye to unmatched skulls. When a fight opened there were three chains of skulls to match. It was my turn first, but I only had one move. Matching all of the skulls, even disrupting the board to shake the skulls out of position just wasn’t possible. I prepared to take a hit, but when the computer move it matched… mana. Puzzled, I also ignored the unmatched skulls just to see what the computer would do. Again, the computer ignored them. This was at the beginning of the game so enemies are supposed to be easier, but the first Puzzle Quest, especially the PSP one that I spent the most time playing wasn’t as forgiving. Tim Ramage, Producer, explained the artificial intelligence scales up as the game progresses. There’s still a challenge, but Puzzle Quest 2 doesn’t bombard you with it in the beginning.
D3 Publisher plans to release Puzzle Quest 2 on the Nintendo DS and Xbox 360 this summer. Take a look at a batch of Xbox Live Arcade screenshots, which show off the new art style. While Puzzle Quest had a manga-ish feel, Puzzle Quest 2 is brighter and has a Western art style.