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Azkend 2: The World Beneath Reviewed by Cyril Lachel on . While it never reaches the level of Journey to the Center of the Earth or even Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea, Azkend 2: The World Beneath makes good use of the Jules Verne influence. The story is compelling and the artwork is gorgeous, though you've seen the match-three gameplay before. It's not especially deep or original, but, for a brief moment, this puzzle game reminded me of why I liked this genre in the first place. Rating: 71%
Azkend 2: The World Beneath
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Azkend 2: The World Beneath Azkend 2: The World Beneath Azkend 2: The World Beneath Azkend 2: The World Beneath
  • Review Score:

  • B
Like a lot of people, I've had my dalliances with the match-three puzzle genre. What started with me innocently experimenting with Bejeweled quickly spiraled into an out-of-control Puzzle Quest addiction. But as I built up a tolerance for that style of game, I found that the sequels and spin-offs failed to recapture the magic. Azkend 2: The World Beneath may not reinvent the match-three formula, but it does a great job of reminding me why I liked matching things in the first place.

The sequel to the 2010 mobile phone game, this take on the genre merges the match-three gameplay with a compelling story that mimics the work of Jules Verne. We follow a 19th century adventurer traveling from Liverpool to New York who gets caught up in a wild storm that sends their boat wildly off course. This results in an epic adventure where we discover the many secrets hidden inside the belly of the earth.


After each story beat, we're tasked with assembling a number of useful items, like a compass, binoculars, camera and so on. Simply put, each collectable is split up into several pieces, and it up to you to complete the various puzzles to put them back together. Once you've done that, you'll search the area for clues and move on to the next chapter.

The puzzles are presented as a large grid of hexagonal tiles, each made up of different images that are looking to get matched up. The goal for most puzzles is to keep matching pictures until every tile is colored blue, all before time runs out. Once you've colored the entire board, you'll collect the piece you need and move on to the next puzzle.

When not coloring the board blue, players will have to figure out several other types of puzzles. Sometimes there will be bugs that slowly climb to the top of the grid, while other times some of the tiles will be locked behind ice and other objects. There are also puzzles that give you no room for error, forcing a perfect run to win the prize. You'll rotate through these various types of modes for more than sixty stages.

Azend 2: The World Beneath (PS Vita)Click For the Full Picture Archive

It's the large variety of special items and abilities that makes all the difference. You don't just piece together binoculars; you actually get to use them. Each item you craft will have a noticeable effect on the way the puzzles plays out. For example, the explosives will destroy nearby items, the wind sail will summon high winds that sweep away pieces and the hammer spawns, well, a hammer. Some items are more interesting than others.

The gameplay is quick and intuitive, even if it's not very original or deep. After initially laughing at how simple the concept felt, I was surprised by how invested I was in the story and the unique wrinkles to the gameplay. It's fast-paced enough to make me completely forget that I'm largely doing the same thing from one stage to the next. The game does just enough to keep pulling me through all of its different locations.

Unfortunately, when you're not taking in the story and matching tiles, the game has you attempting to track down clues in a completely out-of-place mini-game. Instead of seeing a giant grid, we're presented with a gorgeously detailed picture of our currently location. The viewfinder will show a small portion of the image, and it's our job to point to the spot in question. But look out, because pointing at the wrong part of the picture will result in a time penalty. I see what they were going for in this mode, but it never fit in with the rest of the game.

Azend 2: The World Beneath (PS Vita)Click For the Full Picture Archive

There came a point in our travels when Azkend 2 started to lose me. Not only was I growing wary of the repetition, but the obstacles were becoming more frustrating than fun. I kept running into aggressive insects that would rush the top before I had a chance to react, and too many puzzles end up getting rearranged because I ran out of available moves. These issues only got more annoying as the game neared its conclusion, ultimately leaving me let down by the journey.

Speaking of being let down, I found it nearly impossible to go from the PS Vita's touch screen to using an analog stick on the PlayStation 4. This is a game built for quick swipes, so it's hard to get used to the slower pace on PS4. Azkend 2 does attempt to split the difference with the DualShock 4's touch pad, but it's not a very good alternative.

But even though it never quite reaches the same levels as Journey to the Center of the Earth or even Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea, Azkend 2: The World Beneath does manage to mix a compelling story with addictive match-three gameplay. It's not especially deep or original, but, for a brief moment, this sequel reminded me of why I liked this genre in the first place.
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