Up until recently, I had always been one of those gamers who were staunchly against the idea of games on mobile devices. Playing games on a phone over a dedicated game console had always seemed like a bit of a head-scratcher to me, and by extension I also felt that when mobile games transition from phone to console, they ultimately don’t stand up. Games such as Florence and A Normal Lost Phone have since converted me into a fan of mobile titles, with A Normal Lost Phone being a prime example of a mobile title that stands up on console.
Agent A: A Puzzle in Disguise, which originally released episodically on iOS and Android back in late 2015, is yet another example of a mobile title that succeeds on console. It may sport a mobile-like user interface, but don’t let that deter you, Agent A is a lovely game, packing all five episodes of the point and click adventure into a quality package that provides plenty of humour and charm alongside satisfying puzzles.
Ruby loves her speedboat
The story begins with the titular Agent A being briefed by her Chief, Ermin D Skies, on a new mission. She has been given the task to gather intel and ultimately take out Ruby La Rouge, a notoriously skilled spy that has been offing Agent A’s fellow agents. After being given this mission, you are treated to a cinematic of Ruby La Rouge in action, making it immediately clear that she isn’t one to be trifled with. She manages to sneak her way on to a flashy cruise ship that the Chief is on before craftily bombing the joint and escaping on a speedboat back to her lair. Agent A, who saw this whole commotion take place, follows Ruby back to her home, setting the game into motion. The narrative in Agent A isn’t the prime focus, nor is it particularly important. It does expertly succeed in getting the ball rolling though, giving the player a reason to be invested in the story, and in turn its enjoyable gameplay.
While the narrative sits firmly in the passenger seat, allowing for gameplay to take the wheel, the character of Agent A succeeds in making the game exceedingly charming and humorous. While Agent A traipses through Ruby La Rouge’s extravagant home, she is constantly talking to her herself, with her internal monologuing highlighting her quirky and laid-back demeanour. While a lot of her quips are firmly planted in dad joke territory, they aid in making the game funny, which results in the game feeling lighthearted and charming in a genre that can very easily take the super serious approach. In one example, she finds an anti-ageing cream in Ruby’s bathroom, before stating that it’s lucky that it isn’t an anti-agent cream. The jokes are dumb but they do undoubtedly hit. Agent A even goes as far as referring to a jetpack throughout the game as Jerry Jetpack, personifying the jetpack to the point in which it essentially becomes a recurring character. Even though you never see or even hear Agent A, her witty dialogue succeeds in giving the game a palpable sense of charm.
Agent A is always cracking jokes
Agent A: A Puzzle in Disguise is a point and click adventure game that also happens to be filled to the brim with interesting and inventive puzzles. You make your way through Ruby La Rouge’s home, trying to track her down, but as you quickly come to realise, she has a pretty hi-tech home. In order to reach her, you’re required to complete various puzzles in order to make your way through her lair. When you aren’t doing puzzles, you’re interacting with whatever you can in the environment, whether it be picking up items or scoping out the environment for a secret button or lever required to expose a new area. The gameplay, although rather simple, is a lot of fun, with an abundance of puzzles strewn throughout the game being the strongest aspect of the gameplay. Some puzzles are simple, requiring you to memorise patterns, while others require you to complete traditional, pieced-together puzzles. Some puzzles even make use of algebra, which for a math nerd I found to be quite fun. Plenty of the puzzles require a pen and paper in order to retain the information you need, which I also enjoyed a lot. Some can be difficult, but the feeling of elation when you complete a tough task is addictive and makes you feel like a bit of a badass. The gameplay on display is rather simple, however the variety of interesting and cool puzzles keep the game fresh and addictive throughout.
Almost every puzzle is great fun
Although I didn’t find myself having too many issues with Agent A: A Puzzle in Disguise, there were still some concerns in my time with the game. Firstly, some puzzles can be a little difficult to comprehend, leading to some frustrating moments in which you aren’t sure what needs to be done to progress. Further compounding this issue is the fact that the game lacks any form of hint system, which leaves you on your own to solve the problem. While this isn’t inherently bad, it does sometimes make the game a tad annoying. Agent A does kind of hint when you’re doing something wrong, but the lack of any real clues on how to succeed is annoying. Thankfully a guide is only a Google search away, but even then the game should be able to help point you in the right direction if you are stumped. Backtracking can also be a bit of a pain, with some puzzles requiring you to jump back and forth between various rooms in Ruby La Rouge’s home. The backtracking is somewhat boring, but I wouldn’t say that it dampened the experience a whole lot.
Some puzzles can be a little obtuse
In short, Agent A: A Puzzle in Disguise is a pleasant surprise. Its point and click gameplay paired with excellent and inventive puzzles makes for a brilliant experience, and while the narrative is albeit thin and somewhat tropey in spy fiction, it still manages to be rather interesting. The lack of a hint system does lead to some frustrating moments when you do get stuck, and it can sometimes be easy to get lost in Ruby La Rouge’s spacious abode. Despite the minor annoyances, Agent A: A Puzzle in Disguise is a charming, humorous title that succeeds in making you feel like a skilled secret agent, and that for me makes it well worth the price of admission.
Reviewed on PlayStation 4 Pro // Review code supplied by publisher