When we last saw FBI puzzle agent Nelson Tethers, not all was right in the town of Scoggins, Minnesota. The (supposedly dead) eraser factory foreman Isaac Davner had been forcibly dragged away by a horde of the terrifying, gnomic Hidden People; local law enforcement seemed to be working against Nelson's best efforts with Scoggins' Scandinavian spiritual cult; and Tethers had uncovered what seemed like the tip of a much larger iceberg suggesting the entire town was wrapped up in a sinister, puzzle-related conspiracy.
Like many of its fans, I had a lot of questions remaining when the original Puzzle Agent's credits rolled. What had actually happened to Isaac Davner? Why had the oddball citizens of Scoggins tried to cover up the incident at the eraser factory, and what could they be hiding by sabotaging Nelson's case? What the hell was the deal with the Hidden People? Puzzle Agent 2 attempts to answer these questions, and more.
It could just be the random nature of Graham Annable's delightfully twisted Grickle universe, but maybe some of these narrative threads aren't supposed to be answered, at least not comprehensively. (It might also merely be a metric of trying to cram a complicated plot into two games -- Annable has stated that the complex Scoggins story arc wouldn't have fit in just one.)
Still, the added anticipation of a sequel is always a tough thing, and when a game's "action" is based entirely of Professor Layton-esque brainteasers between dialogue trees and bits of exposition, the narrative had better keep you hooked. It does so well enough, with Nelson's return trip to Scoggins outside of FBI jurisdiction doing a decent, if not altogether tidy, job of wrapping up loose ends dangling from the original.
The good news is that the puzzles that make up the core gameplay are largely intact, improving on the original Puzzle Agent's formula while taking out some of the more annoying design types. You can expect far fewer "spin-the-tiles-to-form-the-picture" type puzzles, for instance (and, thankfully, less "snowmobile path" puzzles), with more of an emphasis on logic problems and math, and a greater variety of puzzle types in general.
There's even an interesting experimental "real-time" puzzle that speak to Telltale's design skills. That said, if you've played the original you know exactly what you're in for with Puzzle Agent 2.
Even with its slicker production, PA2 still manages to feel a bit more muddled than its predecessor. Revisiting Scoggins introduces several new plot elements that aren't satisfactorily resolved -- the story turns even more surreal than in the first -- and Nelson's new would-be love interest isn't really capitalized on. Fans of the original will want to play it to see what happens (I recommend doing so with a notepad), and the puzzling is still solid.
As is the case with so many sequels, though, it may feel like you're enjoying the reunion not because of its personality, but because it's just nice to see old friends again.