Agent A: A Puzzle In Disguise (Review)

Source: Cashmoneys
Price: £7.19
Where To Get It: Steam

Agent A is, some Simon puzzles and a couple of brute forcers aside, a fairly good puzzle game where I’ve never felt the need for a walkthrough (the urge, yes. But not the need.) So that’s quite a pleasant start, both to the review and the game itself. But hot-damn, it also has some moments in the game that make this review really hard to write, because I have to avoid spoilers that I really want to talk about.

If only I could… Put a secret code or something with spoilers in (No, I have not in fact done this)

Still, let’s give this a go. Agent A is, as you might have guessed from the subheader, a Myst style “Explore a place, solving puzzles as you go.” Except it’s not uninhabited, and it is, in fact, the home of the antagonist, enemy spy Ruby LaRouge, who has a reputation for “dismissing” enemy agents, a reputation you witness the truth of just a few hours before you trail her to her hideout.

And ohhh, she’s a good antagonist. Vaudevillainous as a James Bond villain, confident, sadistic… It feels like she’s taunting you a lot more than she actually is, because her presence lingers. So… What about the puzzles?

These are never good words to hear from a sadistic enemy agent.

Well, the good news is that with most of them, the clues are there if you know where to look for them, and the item puzzles only take a little bit of wandering and futzing before you work them out. The colour ones appear to be colour blind friendly (As always, corrections on this from folks with colourblindness appreciated, but it does seem to be holding to the “Difference in both hue and light value” rule that works best), and there are only a few Simon style or brute force puzzles (of which the piano, in Chapter 1, is the worst to my mind. As soon as I saw a pianola roll, I audibly groaned.)

The controls are also pretty simple, although there’s some slowness to the movement that may not be appreciated: Left click does a thing, left drag moves a thing or drags a thing from inventory to be used, right click is “Go back a bit.” And that last one works because the tree of rooms and zones is kept relatively tight. But it should be noted that the perceptive player, who has their screenshot button handy, is rewarded (not just in puzzle clues, but… Other information), whereas the one not looking at everything they humanly can will have a much tougher time. It’s that sort of game. Heck, there are even secret things to do, ones I’ve definitely missed on this review playthrough.

What, you thought those cars that could turn into submarines stored themselves?

Still… The game looks good. The music is good. The voice acting is solid, especially the antagonist who comprises the majority of the game, and its clarity works for it. It’s also an experience that feels longer than it is (in a good way), and has some replay value if you’re a perfectionist. But mostly, it does what it says on the tin, tightly, and with a little panache, and I can quite easily recommend this one for the puzzlers out there. But remember, Ruby is mean, and that is all the warning I can give you!

The Mad Welshman sometimes chafes under the need to hide spoilers, as many people do. Although… He does like hearing the shocked cries of “The hell?” as people get to certain plot points too… Decisions, decisions…

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