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Hard Puzzle 2 : The Cow, The Stool and Other Animals

by Ade McT profile

Episode 2 of Hard Puzzle Trilogy
Science Fiction
2015

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Number of Reviews: 3
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful:
Another hard puzzle, January 9, 2016
by CMG (NYC)
When the first game in the Hard Puzzle trilogy was released, there wasn't a trilogy. That game was a standalone game and it consumed me unlike any puzzle game I'd played before. I thought, once I had solved it, that I was finished for good, that I had broken free, and it was a highly satisfying moment.

Then Hard Puzzle 2 came out. Only then did I realize how deeply the first game had actually sunken its claws. I wasn't finished. I wasn't free. I had to solve the second game. My experience with the first practically dictated my continued devotion to the series.

In the first game you're tasked with assembling a milking stool. This process is complicated by (among other things) how many items the game provides for you to manage. In the second game you're tasked with using that stool to finally milk an animal. This process is complicated by how many animals there are to milk, and how they react to each other. Rather than swamping the player with objects as the first game had, the second game swamps the player with temperamental NPCs to herd around. And to further compound the chaos, there's a countdown timer.

But it's not as simple as herding the animals and getting the milk before the timer runs out. Or maybe it is that simple. That's the trick with these Hard Puzzle games. You never know exactly where you stand.

Coming into the second Hard Puzzle after solving the first made me approach it differently. I knew what had been required to solve the first, but did the game know I knew that? Was its solution going to follow similar logic, or was its solution going to strike into new territory? I'd rather not say. My own uncertainty enhanced the game. And indeed, if you dislike uncertainty, then you're probably best staying as far away from these Hard Puzzles as you can get.

In some respects, I think that the first Hard Puzzle was a better game because it was less noisy, so to speak. But in other respects, I think Hard Puzzle 2 surpasses its predecessor for the same reason. This sequel has more atmosphere, more character, more movement from the animal NPCs bustling around. Seeds planted in the first game about the post-apocalyptic setting begin to bloom here. A mythology begins to develop.

Once again, I hope no solution is ever published. These Hard Puzzles exist in a strange limbo where not knowing their true proportions is what makes them as engaging as they are.