The world of secret agents, spies and evil villains is a fantasy that everyone at some point in their life has imagined being a part of. Who wasn’t thrilled by the latest James Bond or Mission Impossible and wanted to buy into that lifestyle of travel and intrigue? And don’t even get me started on the gadgets; I’ve always wanted a wristwatch that could tell the time in Istanbul, kill a whole army with a laser beam and transform into a jetpack for the perfect escape. With Agent A: A Puzzle in Disguise you can now have the opportunity to don a waterproof tuxedo, perfect the saucy quip and get ready to become a super agent. Will you accept this mission, agent?
The story of A Puzzle in Disguise is a simple but effective setup. Supervillain Ruby la Rouge has been executing all the top agents and spies – in fact, at the start of the game, she ends up destroying a ship at sea, killing your boss and escaping. You play an agent who has tracked her to her lair and now as the game begins your first job is to infiltrate the den and stop her dastardly plans. The story and the writing is well crafted and clearly knows the genre it is attempting to deliver, with things played out with a comic book feel, and a tongue in cheek wink to the audience which embraces cliche without fear. There are some very funny touches placed throughout that comment on the hyper-reality that you are experiencing, and the main characters are not just very well written, but huge fun to spend some time with.
The game is a mixture of good old fashioned point and click adventure and puzzles. Gameplay-wise it’s very simple in the control department and navigating yourself around the world, partly down to how the game was released on mobile devices first. You don’t move around the world in the third or first person in the normal way you imagine, and instead you’re put into a fixed position where you see the world around you. Here you can move a cursor across the screen to pick up or examine objects or points of interest. Some items will enable you to zoom inwards to get a closer look or to interact with, and doorways and entrances can be clicked so then you travel forward. You can always press the B button to go back to the last location or back out of an interaction. It’s a very simple set up but works very well indeed.
The point and click part of the gameplay is fairly straightforward, but the puzzles on offer and the minigames available will tickle the brain. In fact, some will nearly destroy it. There have been moments where I have found myself smug and all-knowing, breezing past the first few puzzles, but then I found myself stuck mid-game; left with hard thinking and self-analysis. If you like being challenged and like to take your time with games then you’re in for a treat. If not, well…
The structures found in Agent A: A Puzzle in Disguise are very clever and the puzzles are ingeniously designed. You will get stuck and a little help would be nice, and there are certainly times where you’ll be doing a lot of backtracking between locations. It is this which has taken a little of the enjoyment out of the game for a moment, but on the whole, it’s a decent playthrough. There are five chapters and each should last you a couple of hours depending on your puzzle brain intelligence, so it’s a good chunk of game hours for a product this size.
In terms of visuals and this sees Agent A hark back to a 1960’s cartoon look – all sharp lines, vibrant colours and beautifully drawn backdrops. The level design is so clever that when a bland room transformed at the click of a button into an evil lair/escape room I clapped; loudly, and on my own. The characters are great and the little touches like a TV channel selling spy gadgets, a shark-infested pool and a mouse called Trevor had me smiling throughout.
The soundtrack has easy listening jazzy tracks throughout, and this is like melted chocolate for your ears. It also calms you down for when you’re stuck on an infuriating puzzle, swelling and dipping with the drama pleasingly. The effects are great too, as are the cheeky voice overs.
Overall I’ve had a blast with my time as a secret agent in Agent A: A Puzzle in Disguise on Xbox One. If you’re a puzzle fan and a point and click adventurer then look no further in purchasing this neat little package that delivers plenty of gameplay for your buck. There are moments when you’ll be stumped, and I personally could have done with some hints, but overall it’s a great experience and the closest thing you will get to living out your James Bond fantasy.