Saturday, January 13, 2018

Review: Azkend 2 [Nintendo Switch eShop]

The folks at 10 Tons have been consistently providing the Switch eShop with 2 things: Terrific shooters, and some well-polished casual games. It has actually surprised me that we’ve not seen a wider variety of casual games yet on the platform and 10 Tons seems more than happy to capitalize. Their latest, Azkend 2, is their take on a tile-matching game, and I’ll just come out and say that I’ve been shocked with how much it has hooked me.

In an odd twist the game has a story and is narrated in cutscenes with you playing the part of Jules, a young woman whose ship is pulled into a maelstrom at sea and then finds herself trying to make her way out from the center of the Earth. This provides the opportunity to create some stunning artwork for the backdrops that represent your journey back.

The greatest strength the game has is the diversity of variations it throws at you, with new wrinkles and variations in almost every level. On top of the normal locking or frozen pieces there are levels with bugs that move around that you’ll need to keep from getting away, blocks that are on fire that you’ll need to extinguish, and some others as well. These keep you on your toes and manage to keep things from bogging down, though it does add quite a bit to the level of challenge. To help compensate you’ll slowly unlock both active and passive upgrades that you can use to give yourself a customized edge in making it through. You’ll want to experiment with the different upgrades to find which ones suit you best or you may choose to change them in response to the specific level.

Once you’ve managed to complete the game’s 60 core Story levels you’ll then be able to move on to both a Timed Challenge mode and a Medals Challenge where you’ll be pushed to complete the original story levels more efficiently. A word of caution would go out to true casual players, you’ll likely find this a bit more challenging and diverse than your typical match game, though overall I’d personally consider that a big plus. Careful attention needs to be paid to the game’s core rules as there’s quite a lot going on and keeping up your charge specifically is crucial to success.

Overall I’ve been very pleasantly surprised by Azkend 2. It manages to break out of the mold of the typical match game and do some things that kept it consistently engaging. True, its approach may be a bit “throw the everything at you” in general, but I’ll take that over it being predictable. Throw on high quality production values and a budget price and I’d say if you’re in the market for a great casual, but not too casual, match game it is highly recommended.

Score: 8.5

  • Works fabulously in handheld mode on the touchscreen
  • Variety is the name of the game here and many of the levels have something to help them stand out
  • Power-ups play a vital and often transformative role in your success

  • There’s an aspect of “everything but the kitchen sink” to it all at times
  • For true casual gamers it is possible this might skew towards difficult at times