Azkend 2 HD takes the classical match three gameplay and adds a short story line, beautiful artwork, and great music. However, is this enough to cover up flaws associated with the difficulty level of the game and interruptions to gameplay?
Azkend 2 features hand drawn artwork that is second to none. This game needs to be played on the iPad to truly appreciate exactly how beautiful the art is. Although the Retina screen on the iPhone 4/4s and iPod Touch Fourth Generation is a great screen, short of holding your device four inches from your eyes, there is simply not enough screen space to fully enjoy the graphics.
The developers promise for an update in the near future to support the new iPad’s Retina screen. If they can maintain the quality of art they currently have, they can easily have some of the prettiest art on the new screen. Animations are simple but smooth. Azkend 2 is a visually flawless game fitting its mood perfectly.
The audio feature that stands out the most is the top notch voice acting job featured in Azkend 2. The game is narrated by a female voice that provides the background story for Azkend 2. Considering most games on iOS lack a voice acting component, let alone such a well done and professional job, Azkend 2’s audio is impressive on that fact alone.
However the rest of the audio experience lives up to the standard set up by the voice acting. Sound effects are bright and varied, while the music is airy and pleasant to listen to for long periods of time.
Azkend 2 at its core is a puzzle game using the match three format. Players draw a line with their finger to match three or more of the same tile to destroy the tiles and cause a variety of effects. There are several different variations to the gameplay, ranging from destroying bugs on the play area to fighting fires spreading across the board. Games are limited by time, providing short intense burst of puzzling fun. Challenge mode has two modes, Time Challenge and Medals.
Time challenge mode provides a short burst of gameplay, pitting players to rake in the highest score possible in a set period of time. Medal mode allows players to replay levels from Adventure mode to earn medals for high scores. These modes add an element of replayability to Azkend 2,
The Adventure mode provides a simple storyline and a strong entry point into the game. Each chapter seems to focus on one variation of game play which I find to be extremely disappointing. Although I appreciate the very slow ramp up of difficulty in the beginning, playing a similar level three times in a row can become boring quickly. The slow ramp up of difficulty suddenly ends at around the seventh or eighth chapter when the game suddenly becomes extremely difficult.
Suddenly I found the requirements to beat a level suddenly goes from simple skill to quick thinking, smart inventory decisions, and most importantly sheer luck and tenacity. The biggest issue is the constant lack of moves, forcing the game to pause gameplay to shuffle the board. This inability to properly balance the difficulty ramp up is not only extremely annoying but can be a frustrating turn off for the game.
The spot the hint mini game in Adventure mode is an interesting choice for an intermission mini game. The game tests players’ observation skills by providing small hint of the hand drawn scenery and requires the player to correctly identify the area where the hint is located. This mini game can become extremely challenging when hints are turned upside down or sideways. The mini game is a novel distraction and a great excuse to appreciate the beautiful hand drawn scenes in Azkend 2.
The controls in Azkend 2 are responsive, however I strongly recommend playing this on the iPad over the smaller iPhone or iPod Touch screens. The size of the tiles on the smaller screens can cause selection errors and hinder game play. I consider myself to have very small hands and I found myself having trouble once in a while. I suspect those with much larger fingers will find Azkend 2’s small size on the iPhone and iPod extremely difficult to use.
Azkend 2 HD: The World Beneath is a solid puzzling game with some quirky game play issue that may plague some players. The game’s difficulty suddenly ramps up steeply, starting from a casual puzzling game to an extremely difficult game mixing luck and skill. Patient puzzlers and those looking for a high quality casual game will find a gold mine in Azkend 2 HD. However the price of $3.99 USD may scare off some buyers. I strongly recommend Azkend 2 HD as a buy on sale game until some of the game play issues are ironed out.