HomeReviews2.5/5 ReviewArgonauts Agency 2: Pandora’s Box Review

Argonauts Agency 2: Pandora’s Box Review

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When Argonauts Agency 1: The Golden Fleece arrived on the Xbox, we quietly praised it for being the first 8floor Games resource-management game (see also Gnomes Garden, Royal Roads, Garden City and many many more) that we would recommend people to play. It felt like a crystallisation of their vision. Finally, we could see what they were getting at. Levels were swift; resource-gathering was painless; there were no bugs (shock!); and there was a lightweight, half-remembered Greek Mythology-ness to it all. 

And so we’re here again with Argonauts Agency 2: Pandora’s Box. We didn’t have to wait long. In typical 8floor Games fashion, we’re getting a sequel barely a month after the original. But we’re hopeful: it’s a sequel to the best game in the series, and the usual feelings of 8floor fatigue aren’t hitting us this time out. 

argonauts agency 2 pandoras box review 1
The usual 8floor setup

We’re back with Jason and the Argonauts, alongside Medea, in the offices of their outfit which is part Private Investigation agency, part Men-in-Black-but-for-Greek-Myths. This time, Pandora’s Box has been opened, and they need to find a way to shut it. Cue plenty of globetrotting, as they bounce from character to character, region to region, in an effort to stop the creatures that are spilling out of the box. 

The story is even flimsier than usual, mostly because the potential of the Pandora’s Box is clearly right there, ready to be exploited, but Argonauts Agency 2: Pandora’s Box doesn’t bother. It leaves the Pandora’s Box at home, going on an odyssey without it, so you don’t get to see what comes out. None of the enemies you confront came from it. So it’s all a bit of a waste, and just makes for a generic journey, much the same as the other Gnomes Garden titles. 

The Greek Mythology seems to have been scrubbed off with iron wool too. Sure, there is the odd cyclops and minotaur, but there’s a bizarre lack of notable characters. In the first game, you encountered dragons and talking trees: here, the closest you get is the Oracle, who turns out to be a lonely old man in his tower. 

The story is a regression, then. But the resource management makes many of the same, correct decisions that the first game did. There is an understanding in Argonauts Agency 2: Pandora’s Box that levels can soon get fatiguing if you play more than five of them in a row, so it doesn’t waste your time. Each level can be one-and-done in little more than a few minutes, and there’s precious little waiting. If you’re used to this kind of game, you will be surprised how you’re constantly doing something. It’s not often that you’re sitting outside of a factory, waiting for the one resource you need to drop. 

argonauts agency 2 pandoras box review 2
Story? Bah.

For those who haven’t played this kind of game before, it’s a bit of an oddball. It’s a city-building sim where you’re extremely limited about what you can build. You have the ruins of mines, farms, lumber mills and the like, and you can spend resources to rebuild them. Those resources are gathered from the roads leading to the ruins. You don’t pick them up yourself: you have a worker for that, and you use a cursor to click on the things you want them to grab. Eventually, you get to the point of completing the level’s objectives. These objectives might require you to upgrade a building to a certain tier, or clear a blockage in the road. On occasion there’s a magical beast to dispel. But once they’re done, you get a star-rating before being ejected from the level and onto the next. 

The downfall of these games is that the single-screen, low-effort city management gets repetitive. There are only so many ways to remix the paths, obstructions and ruins to make unique challenges. I mean, they try: sometimes you’re not given certain resources at all, which means trading for them at market squares. Other times, you have to use the precious few resources you’ve got carefully. And Argonauts Agency 2: Pandora’s Box borrows the first game’s trick of playing some levels in the dark. You need to build beacons to light up sections of the level. 

But Argonauts Agency 2: Pandora’s Box falls into this old trap. It can’t find anything new to add. It reuses all of the Argonauts Agency 1 tricks, and fails to remix them as often as the first game did. As a result, there’s a curious staleness to Argonauts Agency 2: Pandora’s Box, as the levels echo each other, rather than making any new, grand statements. Again, it’s a regression. 

We wish the regression would stop there, but Argonauts Agency 2: Pandora’s Box goes into a full-on moonwalk. Because an old bug is back. For several games now, we haven’t experienced the save-bug that previously plagued 8floor games. But it’s back in full force. If you Quick Resume the game, it will inevitably crash and then revert you back to a save-state that is a long time before that crash. You have to manually close the game after each session, and only then can you be sure that you won’t lose your progress. We’re not sure why we’re back here again, but lo, here we are.

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A backwards step on the first game

Ah, to go back to the promise and potential of Argonauts Agency 1: Golden Fleece. We were so confident that it was a turning of a corner. It was quickfire, fun and bug-free, and it even arrived with ideas in its cargo hold. But here we are with what could charitably be called some DLC for the first game. It’s more of the same, reusing the ideas that Argonauts Agency 1 introduced, but with filler between. If we’re not being charitable, Argonauts Agency 2 represents collective amnesia, where everything good from the first game is forgotten. 

Argonauts Agency 1: Golden Fleece sold us on a bright new future for the 8floor series. Things looked golden indeed. Argonauts Agency 2: Pandora’s Box swallows that all up and reveals that the future might be darker, full of old bugs and the same repeated experiences.

SUMMARY

Pros:
  • Faster levels that respect your time
  • Clear, easy to understand levels
  • Still somewhat relaxing in small chunks
Cons:
  • Story and theme is largely irrelevant
  • Feels more repetitive than usual
  • A massive back step from the first game
Info:
  • Massive thanks for the free copy of the game, TXH
  • Formats - Xbox Series X|S, Xbox One (review)
  • Release date and price - 15 December 2023 | £4.19
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<b>Pros:</b> <ul> <li>Faster levels that respect your time</li> <li>Clear, easy to understand levels</li> <li>Still somewhat relaxing in small chunks</li> </ul> <b>Cons:</b> <ul> <li>Story and theme is largely irrelevant</li> <li>Feels more repetitive than usual</li> <li>A massive back step from the first game</li> </ul> <b>Info:</b> <ul> <li>Massive thanks for the free copy of the game, TXH</li> <li>Formats - Xbox Series X|S, Xbox One (review) <li>Release date and price - 15 December 2023 | £4.19</li> </ul>Argonauts Agency 2: Pandora’s Box Review
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