In Azkend 2 HD – The World Beneath, you play as an explorer aboard a ship that hits some tough chop. Before you know it, you’re sucked into a typhoon and get lost. Eventually, you find yourself in a mysterious jungle, presumably buried somewhere under the sea and preserved from man and time. You begin exploring and find marvelous jungles, volcanoes, and mountains. Bugs and other animals, never before seen by man, can be found everywhere. The beautiful, mysterious world of Azkend is yours to explore and document. And did we mention this was a puzzle game?
Yeah, Azkend 2 surprised us, as well. You’re greeted with romantic music and hand-painted scenery when the game opens. A delightful female voice narrates your trek and various dilemmas. From the very beginning, it is clear that this is not your ordinary puzzle game.
Clearing the fog.
The actual puzzles themselves are atypical, as well. What originally appears to be a game of matching tiles quickly becomes a game of strategy and luck. Each board is laid out similarly, with six-sided tiles decorated with various artifacts on them arranged in a honeycomb-like pattern. By using your finger to connect the tiles, you can remove them from the board, causing the remaining tiles above to move down. You must connect at least three tiles with the same image on them, but connecting at least six will unleash a ball of lightning
The ball of lightning is only the tip of the iceberg. There are two types of power-ups in the game to help you solve the tile puzzles quicker: active and passive powers. These power-ups are based on items that you recover by solving other puzzles. For example, you must find several sticks of dynamite. The dynamite is recovered by getting the dynamite tile in a puzzle to the bottom by clearing the tiles below it. Once you’ve recovered the dynamite, dynamite tiles will appear. Matching at least three of these tiles will result in an explosion, clearing nearby tiles.
Passive powers, also based on items you find in the story, aid you without having to be activated. Eyeglasses, for example, will show you nearby tiles you can clear. You can choose which active and passive power-ups you would like to use, but you can only have one of each selected. As you move further into the game, more power-ups will become available.
Day of the tentacle.
Azkend 2 does a great job of guiding you easily into the puzzles, starting out with a simple matching game. As you progress, you’ll have more to do than just matching. By connecting similar tiles, you will change the color of the space beneath the tile. At some point, you’ll need to change all of these spaces to the same color. You’ll also need to thaw tiles that are frozen by matching nearby tiles. While this may all sound overwhelming, it is a smooth transition.
This also means that you’ll rarely play the same puzzle twice. Every puzzle will introduce a new type of obstacle or power-up. The design of each puzzle will change as well. Sometimes there will be holes in the honeycomb design, or even bottlenecks. At times, it can feel like you’re at the mercy of the tiles, but thinking strategically and not worrying about the clock can often overcome the challenge.
The story, combined with the short-term goals of finding new items and power-ups, will keep you playing. Rarely have we ever played a puzzle game to experience a story, but Azkend 2 constantly surprised us with its attention to detail and cleverly-crafted game experience.
It may have a funny name, but Azkend 2 isn’t anything to laugh at. It has plenty of variety, gorgeous art, and tremendous music, making it a gaming gem for anyone fond of puzzle games and paperback adventure novels.