Worldgate 2: Contact
October 25, 1888. The Wyoming Territories. The scientist has returned from his first excursion through the Worldgate, and brought with him a strange hexagonal component. Apparently a fuel cell of some kind, its full function is but another entry in a growing list of mysteries. Still, there are gateways yet to be unlocked and further worlds to explore. Maybe this is the passage through which you'll find some answers. Worldgate 2: Contact continues the story of William Buchanan's well-received point-and-click adventure, and the twists are proving ever more intriguing.
At the start, as before, you may choose whether to navigate by mouse or by keyboard, and whether to display direction arrows on-screen. Using the [WASD] or [arrow] keys, or by clicking the arrows with the mouse, you'll turn left and right, and step forward and backward to navigate around the landscape. Click an object onscreen to examine, manipulate, or add it to your inventory. Once an object is in your inventory, you may examine it by clicking the small magnifying glass that appears when you mouse over its icon, or click to select it to use with an onscreen object. Some objects can be adjusted or combined once examined in greater detail. In general, it's best to visit the options menu to customize your experience.
Analysis: The first installment of Worldgate set the bar pretty high, but William Buchanan has cleared it, as Worldgate 2 delivers the same dose of satisfying puzzles, while effectively expanding the story's setting. Whereas the first game's exploration was set in the grays and browns of marble and rock, your second trip is dominated by the translucent blues of crystal. The presentation is sparkly and beautiful, but also cold, shard, and, above all, alien.
Buchanan definitely has a skill for the balancing act of presenting challenges that are comprehensible to the human eye, but still retain that otherworldly quality that is their greatest appeal. Little details like the three-fingered activator pads, or staircase steps with unsupported gaps between them, do a lot to convey the sense that you are trespassing in a place inhabited by beings quite different from us. It is not a completely unwelcoming world, but still one that is clearly not ours.
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There are a few nitpicks that can be made: while navigation is easy enough to pick up, there are the usual problems with attempting to convey circular-motion with only four directional keys. There are a few puzzles with obtuse solutions (though frankly, considering how Myst-like the Worldgate experience is, it'd almost be more disappointing if there weren't). And then there's that lighter, which won't be setting anything aflame unless it's examined and opened first. Yeah, that one's obvious in retrospect, but it would be a lie to say this reviewer didn't spend a couple of minutes of fruitless clicking at the start of his first playthrough. (Edit: An update has addressed this issue to make it more intuitive.) No matter, Worldgate 2 is a worthy sequel in a series many have found to be an instant classic. Not to give too much away, but the ending promises a new direction for the upcoming Worldgate 3, and frankly, we hope it isn't too long before we find out what it is.