By: Quinn Potter
Azkend 2: The World Beneath is a joyful match-three puzzler made by 10 Ton Studios, the creators of Sparkle Unleashed. Sharp images, easy-to-understand gameplay and a nicely structured series of levels make this game instantly appealing. The question is: will it hold your attention for very long?
Controls are simple. Move with the left stick, press and drag A to make matches. This is exactly what you’d expect from a console version of a game of this ilk (no names, but Candy Crush Saga comes to mind). The toggle sensitivity can be adjusted, which is helpful for more novice players.
As we discovered on Sparkle Unleashed, 10 Ton Studios makes a truly polished game. Both the graphics and sound are stellar. Images are sharp and well-designed. The art evokes a sweet Steampunk imagery of wood, brass and Tesla coils.
The music is dramatic, as if it were the score to accompany a movie. Sound effects are equally well-done. Drops of water, bubbles bursting, clicks and squeaks will emerge depending on which images you click. All are easy-on-the-ears and blend in well to the accompanying soundtrack.
A female with a British accent provides much of the well-done narration. This is the story’s key protagonist whose ship hit stormy weather while sailing from Liverpool to New York.
The premise of the main adventure is that you are out on a ship, there’s a huge storm, and a big whirlpool takes you underwater. While you are underwater, you’ll need to put your matching skills to the test by looking for strings of matching tiles to link up and delete.
In the first chapter, “Repairing the Binoculars,” your goal is to clear away the fog. The longer your linking chain of matching images is, the more rewards you’ll receive. Images to match include T-Rex sculls, trilobites, spiral shells, insects in amber, oyster shells with pearls, compasses, binoculars, leaves and more.
As you move up in levels, game boards expand, time limits shorten, matching objects vary and the background image changes. In the last level of the second chapter (“A Compass Would Be Nice”), you’ll start flipping tiles from blank to blue to match the images.
At the end of Chapter 3, “Disoriented and Blind,” you’ll get a little more narrative to guide you through a larger matching picture. With your glasses, you can explore the underground cavern to find sticks of dynamite. Find enough matching details in the big picture and you’ll come into the next game with a few credits /charged Tesla coils going for you.
Each of the 17 chapters has a main goal with multiple levels supplied within each chapter. By the end, you’ll have worked through over 60 game boards with multiple active and passive gadgets. These power ups will show up on your inventory. You can choose one active (e.g. dynamite) and one passive (e.g. glasses) per level to help you beat the clock.
Games are logical, straightforward matching puzzles, with no AI, local or online co-op available. You can, however, see where you place in the leaderboard for the Time mode to see how many points you can score in a two-minute window. In Challenge mode, you can compete against yourself by going back to improve your times at each level to earn medals.
Azkend 2: The World Beneath is a mild puzzler that can entertain a wide range of ages for hours. Family members of all ages will enjoy the mild images and pleasant music as they match, problem-solve and use their logic in a race against time.