Bwana's back baby! The Rastafari gas station attendant/charter pilot/petty criminal with a heart of gold returns to pick up the story of the Journey Down after Chapter One's cliffhanger ending. I filled my inventory with useless looking items and delved into the mists of Chapter Two to see what's new in the quirky adventure series.
The middle part of any trilogy can be difficult to get right. Balance problems, expanding on the start of the story while still leaving a big reveal for the third part and character development can all pose serious questions. Having really enjoyed Chapter One, I obviously hoped that Chapter Two could avoid these pitfalls without losing the odd charm of the previous game. The good news is that overall it does, bringing new characters, locations and puzzles, while retaining all that made the first part so interesting.
Our reluctant heroes Lina, Bwana and Kito find themselves in the misty town of Port Artue. Their reputation precedes them however, and they are thrown into prison by the corrupt police chief Barlow, who takes Lina away with him. From here on out Bwana must rely on his wits and and his rough and ready approach to problem solving (including but not limited to breaking and entering, smelting steel, dirty videos and pigeons) to save the day and get closer to finding out the truth behind the shady power company and the disappearance of his father.
In line with Chapter One the puzzles hit that sweet spot between brain-teasing and logical, meaning that frustration is rarely an issue. The one time I got completely stuck was because I wasn't paying attention at all and missed a pretty vital clue. As usual with Bwana, a lot of the solutions revolve around white lies, deceit and distraction, leading to some pretty entertaining situations.
The game is also a touch longer than Chapter One, coming in at an hour more than its predecessor. A couple of times I thought the game was going to end and was surprised to find a new section opening up. Again, due to the nature of the puzzles the whole experience feels pleasant and the game time is spent progressing the story rather than wandering around desperately searching for a solution.
The soundtrack was an important part of the previous chapter, and gets an overhaul here, with more of a big band flavour coming in to reflect the more 'noir' atmosphere of Port Artue. Unfortunately, series composer Simon D'Souza passed away recently, and this game is dedicated to his memory. Hopefully SkyGoblin studios can find somebody to carry on the good work in Chapter Three.
If I had one tiny criticism of Chapter Two it would be that the location of Port Artue feels more anonymous than Chapter One, lacking some of the larger than life characters that made the first so memorable. That said, the artwork is still beautiful and intriguing, and the main trio of characters are very nicely written. My favourite new character in this chapter has to be Morten, the very accomodating lighthouse keeper.
So, if you're in the mood for a robust point and click adventure (which should be always, really) I heartily recommend The Journey Down Chapter Two. Solid puzzles, interesting characters, cool music and some funny jokes make the whole game a worthwhile experience.