Puzzle Agent 2

Posted by Patrick Talbot.
First posted on 23 July 2012. Last updated on 23 July 2012.
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Puzzle Agent 2
Agent Tethers is still haunted by the memories of his case in Scoggins.
Puzzle Agent 2
Most of the townspeople in Scoggins are annoyed with Agent Tethers.
Puzzle Agent 2
The sheriffs sees Agent Tethers as a nuisance.
Puzzle Agent 2
Korka makes an impression on Agent Tethers.
Puzzle Agent 2
Agent Tethers finally makes contact with the Hidden People.

More than a few adventure games have made use of conspiracy theory as a plot device. Some have been memorable, while others have been forgettable. In the original Puzzle Agent, Telltale Games has carefully crafted a memorable conspiracy for the game's story based on the real Nordiac folklore of the Hidden People. The sequel, Puzzle Agent 2, takes this conspiracy to the next level and gives fans of this series an adventure that will not disappoint.

FBI Special Agent Nelson Tethers of the Department of Puzzle Research is still haunted by the memories of his previous case at the eraser factory in Scoggins, Minnesota. He feels that there is still "unfinished business" in that quirky little town. The bureau may have declared the case closed, but not Agent Tethers. He decides to return to there on his own during his vacation to follow up on the disappearance of the factory foreman, Issac Davner. Not surprisingly, he soon discovers that many other townspeople from there have also disappeared and are still missing. Is a serial murderer on the loose? Are the disappearances related to the kidnapping of Issac? What Agent Tethers uncovers will only deepen the mystery surrounding the town of Scoggins and its denizens—a secret cult that is truly out of this world and a massive government conspiracy that will affect his own sanity.

As in the previous game, the sequel features the artwork of animator Graham Annable. The charcoal illustrations as well as the comic styled background and character arts add to the overall creepy atmosphere of the fictitious town. The game features the same basic mechanics as its predecessor without seeming like a rehash. The control is simple, using the mouse only to manage all interactions. What I find particularly interesting is the way the game keeps evaluating your progress as a puzzle agent. Whenever you solve and submit the solution to a puzzle you have just completed, the game whimsically shows you the skyrocketing cost in taxpayer money for processing your submission. It then rates your puzzle solving ability based on whether you have used any hints and how many times you have previously submitted an answer to the puzzle. The game even keeps a running total of your overall performance and the total amount of taxpayer money you have spent on solving this case.

The highlights of Puzzle Agent 2 are, of course, the puzzles. The puzzles in this game are similar in variety as those in the previous game. Here, Agent Tethers must solve puzzles that require moving furniture, plugging in electrical hardware, rotating dials, strategically cutting locked doors, and even solving mathematical equations. You are told that Agent Tethers needs chewing gums to think as he solves puzzles. The gums allow you to get hints in a puzzle, although each puzzle is limited to only 3 hints. Pieces of gum can be found in various locations that Agent Tethers visits. To find a piece of gum, you only need to left click the mouse button on a nearby area to trigger a magnifying glass that shows its location. There appears to be no limit to the number of pieces of gum you can collect. Collecting these gums are recommended if you plan to use them for hints to help solving some of the tougher puzzles in the game. For your overall performance, you will receive a higher agent rank if you do not use any gum in solving any of the puzzles.

The story of Puzzle Agent 2 is a continuation of that of the original Puzzle Agent. For players who are new to the series, the game includes a recap of past events that will entice them to try out the original game. On the other hand, for players who have already played the original game and are left with many unanswered questions, this game will answer them all to satisfaction. Like the original game, the story builds with increasing tension and suspense as Agent Tethers discovers the dark government conspiracy that has enveloped Scoggins.

Many characters in Puzzle Agent 2 will be familiar to players who have played the original Puzzle Agent. However, there are still plenty of new and equally bizzare characters with whom Agent Tethers will meet this time around in his investigation. As before, the voice acting is top notch and adds a sense of realism to the characters. These include the happy and chubby hotel owner, the annoyed sheriff, the nervous waitress who is the wife of the missing foreman, and an eccentric professor who has the same habit as Agent Tethers of talking into a mini tape recorder. By far, the most interesting character is the Russian accented Korka Tetirdottir. At first, she is introduced as a sultry and mysterious flirt who is a possible romantic interest for Agent Tethers. However, as the plot progresses on, the relationship which develops between them ends up as a hilarious surprise that is entirely unexpected. Even more strangely, with paranoia running increasingly rampant within the denizens of Scoggins, the suspicious climate begins to gradually affect Agent Tethers himself, so that he even sees his superiors at the bureau as adversaries.

Puzzle Agent 2 also features the return of the mysterious red gnomes called the Hidden People. At last, Agent Tethers learns more about them and why they are in Scoggins. He also finds out how to communicate with them, even at a cost of his own sanity. Are the Hidden People a dangerous threat to the town? Are they just lost souls who need help? These are the crucial questions that the game will finally address. The story regularly seduces you with the possibility of revealing all of what is going on. The answers always seem to be right around the corner, enticing you to keep going forward. Along the way, it hurls at you strange red gnomes, crazed deluded townsfolk, secretive men-in-black government agents, and even astronauts from outer space at the most unexpected moments. The game may appear at times to be spiraling down some quirky little detour, but in fact it is immersing you in a world where not all is what it appears to be, and making sense of it all is what makes this game so addicting.

Overall, Puzzle Agent 2 delivers the same elements of the original Puzzle Agent, but in a more generous and pleasing portion. There are more puzzles, more twists and turns, as well as more mysteries and a grand conspiracy that will surprise you. For puzzle fans who want a taste of a different adventure, Puzzle Agent 2 offers all that and so much more.

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