The game plays in much the same way as its predecessor (Puzzle Quest: Galactrix notwithstanding – this is actually a true sequel to the original, not the above spin-off), but with a few slight differences. In terms of basic movement, your character can now be presented inside buildings and the like, rather than simply hovering over buildings on a two-dimensional map. That is, instead of simply walking or riding your mount from one city to another and tapping a button to fight, you’ll now open doors, descend stairs and so on, in order to enter combat. In our demo, we walked down a flight of stairs and were met with a Rat Swarm, for instance.
Enemies come with different amounts of hit points by default, and as usual, the stronger enemy normally gets the first move in combat. You’ll destroy orbs on the board by combining groups of three or more like-colored orbs, which translates to mana, with their being five colors on the board this time around (purple, green, red, blue and yellow) rather than four.
Where there used to be purple stars (experience points) and coin stacks on the board in the last game, which could be destroyed to instantly add to your totals of both, there are now black gloves, which build up action points for you to be able to use your weapons and shields. In the first game, they simply gave off stats to you in combat, but weren’t interactive. You’ll have to rack up enough action points, specific to a particular item, in order to be able to use it. There’s nothing making you take part in this new feature, but it’s there if you want to add more strategy to your gameplay.
Otherwise, the game functions as you’d expect – the mana you collect can be used to perform various spells, like those that perform instant damage to your enemy without ending your turn, and those that change every orb of one color to another color, and do damage to your enemy relative to the number of orbs that were changed. For instance, one spell in particular changes all yellow orbs to purple orbs. If you changed 15 yellow orbs to purple, you would do 15 points of damage to your enemy, so long as they don’t block the attack with their shield (which drops the amount of damage taken).
Puzzle Quest 2 will launch on both the Xbox 360 and the Nintendo DS sometime next Spring. We’ll be sure to bring you continuing coverage about both games as more information becomes available. For now, though, check out the rest of our coverage from this year’s E3.