Azkend 2: The World Beneath is another Switch port from developer 10tons’ back catalog. It was originally released in 2012. However, much has changed in six years’ time. Match-three games are no longer the craze they once were, due in a large part to oversaturation of subpar releases. Azkend 2 is polished for what it is, so quality isn’t really an issue here. But this game can’t escape the crowd, as it does little to separate itself from the pack.
Why this sequel released without the original I’m not sure. It certainly would’ve added some extra value while helping Azkend to stand out a bit more. But no real worries story-wise, as what’s here, while nice enough, doesn’t have much of an impact. The limited sci-fi narrative is weakened when you spend most of your time looking at the crowded playfield. The occasional hidden-object sections, which could’ve served as enhancements, are minimal, and lack features such as panning or zooming.
While the visuals can’t quite reach the heights they were aiming for, the music fares better. It’s composed by Jonathan Greer, who had worked on many 10tons releases. While probably not the sort to stick in your head, the tracks are done well. It fits the atmosphere the game is aiming for, adding a hint of mysterious adventure flavor. You can adjust volume levels individually – I recommend upping the music volume while reducing the sound effects to really appreciate it.
10tons had an opportunity to address the time limits, which the developers admit have been criticized. Sadly, there’s no option to adjust or disable them. This is a shame, as the game is a bit too random. The timer especially proves a hindrance if you’re stuck waiting for the game to shuffle in an effort to find moves. Powerups (both active and passive), while appreciated, weren’t enough to overcome my timer concerns. Seeing the “RAN OUT OF TIME” message left me more inclined to hit exit rather than restart.
To clarify, the time limits are less of a concern when playing away from the TV. With a capacitive stylus in hand, the game controls with a quickness that I pretty much expect. On the TV though using traditional controls just felt too sluggish. 10tons tried, but a game of this nature just really needs to be played with a stylus by default.
Over the past couple of weeks, I found I could only play Azkend 2: The World Beneath for a few minutes at a time. Beyond that, it just didn’t keep me excited, even with achievements, challenges, and medals. My wife, a big fan of puzzlers, ended up really enjoying the game. But with its routine gameplay, lack of timer options, and subpar Switch controls, this old port is fairly average in my eyes. If you haven’t had your fill of match-three games, maybe grab this one during a future sale. Otherwise, you might want to look at another 10tons game instead.