Version Reviewed: 1.0.0
Device Reviewed On: iPad 2
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The original Azkend brought something fresh to the match-three puzzle. Instead of swapping gems to create groupings, the game had players tracing paths of identical items to remove them from the playing field. It mixed this variation with rich graphics, a compelling storyline, and some luscious seek-and-finds. Azkend 2 HD has the same basic gameplay, and while no longer novel in terms of mechanics, the sequel has a new story, richer graphics, and some clever twists.
A dreamlike quality pervades the 18th century underwater quest. Our ship has been destroyed and we are pulled into “The World Beneath” trying to collect items needed to escape this ominously beautiful place.
To do so, players link up same-colored items like amber-encased ants or red starfish placed on tiles. When they disappear from the board the underlying hexagons turn blue. In adventure mode, players move through the story and puzzles sequentially.
When all the tiles have been turned a piece of a necessary object like binoculars or a camera falls onto the board. Players continue matching until they have cleared a way for it to escape out the bottom. This is all done against the clock.
To help there are tesla coils atop each level in the eight hand-drawn environments. They are charged by completing long chains on unturned areas and once filled slam lightning onto the board clearing trouble spots. There are also power-ups that can be used to destroy tiles, charge the coils faster and more.
There are, of course, obstacles, some familiar like unlocking locks by clearing tiles beside them and new threats including bugs that are determined to fly free from the top of a level unless they get clobbered several times.
Between matching rounds are the same scrumptious seek-and-find puzzles. There are also two additional modes of play. Time is like a blitz mode with a finite amount of time to score points and nothing to release and Medal is kind of the opposite, the goal being to drop a medal from increasingly complex boards.
The original Azkend was a twist and eye candy, but it was pretty easy to beat. Azkend 2 goes deeper. It’s still a casual game, but the difficultly level increases much more dramatically even if it’s so incremental it’s hard to notice.
The controls are tight, there is Game Center integration with lots of achievements, and the art is eye-popping. I’ve been testing this game for about a week now and even in Beta I never encountered a bug. Azkend 2 is a soothing universal underwater adventure that deserves a spot on any casual gamer’s iOS device.