It’s been less than a year since Smart Moves, the interactive puzzle board game hybrid, was released, yet the sequel – Smart Moves 2 – is already here. This is likely because it looks and feels pretty much identical to the original, except you’re presented with a new set of puzzles to solve.
To recap, Smart Moves is a puzzle game in which you need to plan your steps carefully in levels which work as interactive game boards. Enemies move at the same time as you, mirroring you, and will attempt to stop you opening all the chests in a level. If you move first into a space before your enemy, they will have the upper hand and take you out, so you need to figure out their movement patterns and time it right to come out on top. The last move into a square of space will be the winning one.
The key to success is figuring out how to “skip” you turn, usually achieved by opening a chest or smashing a barrel. This changes the distance between yourself and your enemies, as well as the pattern, enabling you to get that crucial upper hand.
Little scrolls represent checkpoints that you can pick up at any time to save you starting from scratch. As it’s likely you’ll back yourself into a corner that’s impossible to get out of, these can come in pretty handy despite each level being pretty quick to beat. You don’t have to slay all the enemies if you don’t want to; once you open all the chests in a level you’ll progress to the next.
Smart Moves 2 unfolds in a very similar way to the first, even down to the different board types and enemies that appear. The only tangible difference is how the levels are configured, which is really disappointing. Snakes, spiders, firebombs and gladiators all return amongst other enemies, which threw some good ideas into the first game, but this time around lack impact as we’ve seen it all before.
There are a few new enemies and worlds but the difference is simply cosmetic – the same rules apply here. This time around you will encounter predatory flowers and slimes, but overall it isn’t enough to distance it from the first game.
As before, Smart Moves 2 at least brings plenty of levels to the party which provides a few hours of gameplay for just over four quid. Bargain. These are once again grouped into worlds, and you’ll need to collect a certain amount of keys to progress to the next. Each level you complete earns you a key, but you won’t need to collect them all to unlock the next world, which takes a bit of pressure off at least.
As before, each level gives you a handy hint on how to beat it at the top of the screen, but there are only a few that will really get you scratching your head. It’s a fairly manageable difficulty curve that shouldn’t cause too many problems.
Smart Moves 2 also looks identical to its predecessor, which is decidedly average. The menus, complete with PC cursor, somehow look much worse than the game itself. If the idea was to make it look like a ‘90s RPG for PC then Xitilon have succeeded, but it still isn’t much to look at.
The first game was ridiculously generous with the Xbox Gamerscore, with a whopping 4000G up for grabs. Smart Moves 2 halves what’s available, but it’s even easier to rake in the achievements this time around. This is because they are all unlocked by killing snakes and opening chests, and the tally keeps growing even when you die. You’ll most likely have scooped all 2000G in about 30 minutes, so it’s worth £4.19 for this reason alone if you are wooed by such things.
When all things are said and done, Smart Moves 2 is essentially another pack of levels that are similar in pretty much every way to those in the first game. As before, it’s a decent little puzzle game that works well enough once you get to grips with it, but the sequel does nothing to develop the core gameplay any further.
Smart Moves 2 serves up a near identical experience to the first game, so if you enjoyed that, then you’ll be happy with what’s on offer here. Conversely, if you didn’t then there’s nothing from the sequel to tempt you in, at all.
Smart Moves 2 provides more brain-teasing levels on Xbox Series X|S and Xbox One