Azkend 2: The World Beneath Review
After playing the first Azkend game on my android I was interested to see how the second one played on the Xbox One. The original Azkend was fun, but simple, and I hoped Azkend 2: The World Beneath would be a bit more complex. Thankfully it is, bringing more to the table than the original ever did and is enjoyable the whole way through. While there are some notable flaws, they are outweighed by the strengths of the game.
One of my favourite parts is definitely the story. Now I know what you’re thinking, since when does the match-3 puzzle genre have a story? Well let me tell you, it’s actually pretty decent. It all starts with the narrator, Jules, at the helm of a ship on a journey from Liverpool, when all of a sudden the boat is sucked into a whirlpool and you are thrown into darkness. You awaken to find that you have landed somewhere below the sea, thankfully unscathed. This is where your journey through the unknown begins and in order to find your way back to the surface, you must complete more than 60 puzzles.
As a strictly single player game, Azkend 2 is not lacking in content; with over 4 hours of gameplay and varying puzzles, 10tons did a fantastic job breaking up the monotony that is typical of the genre. There are 3 different game modes: adventure, medal and time. In the adventure, or story, there are 8 different areas and a total of 17 chapters to play through. Each of the these chapters require you to find 3 or 4 parts of an item that will be used to move on. After the completion of each chapter, there is a hidden-object puzzle where you match small pieces of an image to their positions in the larger picture. These puzzles vary in terms of difficulty and objectives, but they ultimately have the same goal: to complete the objective first and then bring the piece of the needed item to the bottom of the board. Medal allows you to play each level again after first unlocking them in the adventure. If you complete the puzzle before half of the time is used up, you will receive a medal for the level. However if you take longer than half of the given time, no medal is awarded. The objective is to complete as many boards and score as high as possible before time runs out.
“On a low note related to gameplay, the hints in the game were awful.”
Things don’t stop there, this sequel also has passive and active power ups. Some of the best include dynamite that explode an area of the board when matched, added time, and horizontal or vertical avalanches that replace pieces of the board. These power-ups help complete the variety of objectives which include putting out fires before they spread to the rest of the board, squashing bugs before they climb to the top, and changing all tiles on the board to a different colour. As an added bonus brought back from the original Azkend, moves that work towards the objective will be rewarded by adding a charge to the tesla coils at the top of your board. Once the 5 coils are charged, 5 lightning bolts will help you complete the objective. On a low note related to gameplay, the hints in the game were awful. The point of a hint is to illustrate the best move possible when you are stuck. Instead moves shown are not the best ones available. While I don’t rely on hints, it would certainly be nice to have good ones given when stuck.
The game controls are simple, with the A and X buttons used only in the main menu to choose power-ups and the analog sticks used to make moves in the puzzles. The A button is also used to select areas on the map for the hidden-object puzzles. While the controls are simple, the sensitivity is too high.When making a match that can branch off into different directions, the pointer goes the opposite way of where you want it to unless you move slowly. Moving slowly is counterproductive when you are under pressure to make fast moves to either beat the time, or beat the objective. The sensitivity of the controls is by far, the most frustrating part of Azkend 2.
Even though the sensitivity is frustrating, this game has stunning animated graphics, specifically on the hidden-objective puzzles and the multiple cut scenes you’ll witness as you progress. I was pleasantly surprised by the level of detail in each of the scenes. Unfortunately, the narration is not very well done, as the voice-over seems unrealistic and a bit slow, while the subtitles are placed in the corners of the screen, cutting half of them off. The soundtrack was limited but it was quiet and classical during the majority of the game, and upbeat and motivational when time was running out, or when an objective was getting out of reach.
“Overall, while it may not have a never-ending amount of levels, like Candy Crush or Frozen: Free Fall, it still has a lot of content to offer.”
As large and unchanging as this genre is, I was delightfully surprised by Azkend 2, and the effort 10tons put into breaking up the repetition of other competitors. Overall, while it may not have a never-ending amount of levels, like Candy Crush or Frozen: Free Fall, it still has a lot of content to offer. This game is a lot less casual in nature than other match-3s, as the time limits are strict and keep you determined to beat the board before time runs out. Although Azkend 2 is similar to the beloved Bejeweled, the addition of a good story makes this one of my favourite puzzle games yet.
***A Xbox One review code was provided by the publisher***
- Large Variety of Content
- Decent Story
- Stunning Animated Graphics
- Hints weren’t very helpful
- High Control sensitivity
- Poor Narration