Bottom Line: Puyo Puyo Tetris 2 delivers plenty of challenging gameplay modes that puzzle fans can master in single-player on online.
Huge number of gameplay modes
Cute, silly story in Adventure Mode
Skill mode makes the game feel more like an RPG
Some sound effects are extremely annoying
Can be challenging unless you're already familiar with both games
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Tetris was originally created by a Russian developer in 1984, but the puzzle game has never lost relevance and has even surged in popularity thanks to new versions like Tetris 99 and Tetris Effect. Puyo Puyo has been around almost as long, first releasing on 1991 and constantly evolving to combine puzzle mechanics with RPG elements.
The worlds first collided in 2014 with Puyo Puyo Tetris, and now the cast of goofy and relentlessly cheerful characters has reunited for the sequel. The aggressively meta and weird plot of the game's Adventure Mode involves a lot of characters somehow getting to know each other, explaining the current crisis, and calming down by playing matches of Puyo Puyo or Tetris. It's up to the players to take a break from the story to play enough solo or tutorial lessons to improve their skills so they can make it through the journey.
Puyo Puyo Tetris 2 review A reason to play
As much as I love solving puzzles and playing Tetris on my old Game Boy for as long as the battery would hold, I enjoy feeling like I'm progressing instead of the amorphous distinction of just getting better. Puyo Puyo Tetris 2 delivers just that through its Adventure Mode, which gives you an excuse to play a series of battles while going through a goofy story that's heavy on references to the original crossover game. It's reminiscent of the story modes found in games like Hearthstone or Gwent that provide just enough excuse to keep you excited to get to the next match.
|Category||Puyo Puyo Tetris 2|
|Title||Puyo Puyo Tetris 2|
|Platforms||Nintendo Switch, PS4, PS5, Xbox One, Xbox Series X/S|
|Players||Up to 4 players local and online|
Levels alternate between making you play Puyo Puyo, where you match four of the namesake blobs of the same color to clear them from the board, and Tetris, where you have to stack blocks to form lines. The biggest boss battles typically let you play your puzzle game of choice. When you score a combo, you'll shove dead blocks or Puyos onto the other board that will clog things up and push them closer to losing the game. Your AI opponent is doing the exact same thing to you, so you'll need to clear those pieces quickly or block them altogether by forming combos of your own at the right time.
The AI is surprisingly challenging and forces you to think strategically about setting up combos rather than just playing defensively and trying to keep your board from filling up. The Adventure Mode isn't great about explaining the rules or strategies, so you'll want to spend some time playing through the extensive tutorials and challenges and even just practicing in solo modes to avoid being frustrated. While you just need to win the match to advance in the story, you'll want to come back and try to secure your victory within a limited period of time to earn rewards such as unlocking bonus stages and new playable characters.
Adding even more complexity is the main difference between Puyo Puyo Tetris 2 and its predecessor: Skill Battle Mode. Reminiscent of the Puzzle Quest games, this mode splices RPG elements into the puzzles by letting you assemble a team of three characters with their own special abilities, passive buffs, and gear. For instance, Tee, the straight-laced Tetris-playing spacefarer, can clear all tetriminos on the bottom two rows of the board while his extremely obnoxious sidekick O can heal you from damage done by your opponent's attacks.
Characters level up and unlock new skills as you play through Adventure Mode, and some levels will also rewards you with cards of varying rarity that serve as equipment, buffing your stats and potentially providing other special effects. Since these matches are about managing health and mana rather than just keeping your board from filling up, they require entirely different strategies to master.
Puzzle Quest pulls that off well because tile matching is a lot simpler than either Puyo Puyo or Tetris. Keeping track of everything here, like what pieces are raining next, which special abilities are on cooldown, and what you have in hold in a Tetris match requires a huge amount of situational awareness. That means you'll want to play with the sound on to stay aware of cues, like letting you know your opponent is about to unleash something nasty on you, which is a drawback given how repetitive and annoying some of the sounds can be.
Puyo Puyo Tetris 2 review So many challenges
Puyo Puyo Tetris 2 also brings back all the gameplay modes of the original title, letting players compete in a variety of ways against AI or up to three other people locally or online. You can try to figure out the best way to clear huge sections of a preset board in Black Hole mode, manage boards with Puyo Puyo or Tetris games that swap out periodically, or even play with pieces from both games at once. The Fusion mode is particularly challenging given how the two types of pieces interact, with tetriminos being able to squish any Puyos they land on and send them back to the top. Then, they're dumped back onto your board all at once.
For casual fun, there's a Party Mode that's reminiscent of a kart game in that power-up items are the most important thing on the board, with players trying to clear areas around them in order to get defensive boosts or unleash nasty attacks on their enemies. I played the game before launch so wasn't able to try the online Puzzle League, but I expect really competitive players will find ample opportunity to hone their skills by both playing matches and watching replays.
Should you buy Puyo Puyo Tetris 2?
You certainly don't need a story mode to enjoy playing games of Tetris or Puyo Puyo, and if you already have the original Puyo Puyo Tetris, you can get most of the gameplay options here without shelling out another $40. But if you're like me and enjoy having a framing plot to provide a sense of momentum as you enjoy the game's solid mechanics, the new entry will deliver plenty of lighthearted fun with its colorful cast of characters.
Skill Battle Mode is challenging to master but really gives Puyo Puyo Tetris 2 strong staying power. If you love Puzzle Quest or some of its mobile successors like Gems of War but don't like the constant push for microtransactions in those games or the repetitiveness of matching games, you should give Puyo Puyo Tetris 2 a try. The game delivers an awesome mix of RPG flavor and intense strategy, while also offering plenty of more casual gameplay modes and ways to hone your skills alone or with friends.
Puzzle adventure awaits
So many ways to play.
Adding story and role-playing elements to a fusion of two great puzzle games makes Puyo Puyo Tetris 2 a truly addictive experience.
Samantha Nelson writes about gaming and electronics for iMore, Windows Central and Android Central while also covering nerd culture for publications including IGN and Polygon. She loves superheroes, RPGs, cooking, and spending time outside with her dog. You can follow her on Twitter @samanthanelson1.