Home Reviews 2.5/5 Review Argonauts Agency 3: Chair of Hephaestus Review

Argonauts Agency 3: Chair of Hephaestus Review

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If we were to recommend one of 8floor Games’ series (and there are many), we’d probably plump for Argonauts Agency. There isn’t a huge difference between this series and the many Gnomes Garden, Lost Artifacts and Roads of Time games, but there’s just something cleaner and simpler about Argonauts Agency. We’re fans of the Greek Mythology setting, the focus on gathering rather than puzzling, and the fog of war mechanic it often drafts in.

Saying that, and having played four of the Argonauts Agency games now, this is not the one we’d suggest you play first. It’s the least engaging game in the series, and falls foul of one of 8floor Games’ perennial problems: it’s on the buggy side. 

Argonauts Agency 3 Chair of Hephaestus Review 1
It’s all about the Chair of Hephaestus

The other three games in the series dabbled in myths that we were aware of beforehand. The Golden Fleece, Pandora’s Box and Hand of Midas are all stories that we grew up with, but we have to plead ignorance on the Chair of Hephaestus. This is a chair that, once sat in, traps the owner forever. I’ve been on sofas that are a bit like that. Jason and Medea are on a mission to free Pelias who has fallen foul of the chair, and that seems to involve navigating Greece in search of ingredients (yeah, we don’t know why either).

Basing your story on a malevolent chair is a big punt, and it doesn’t pay off. It’s hard to get excited about the chair as a threat, and the quest can’t offer you anything to do that feels related to said chair. It’s all makework, and very, very skippable. But that’s been the case for about 90% of 8floor Games’ output, so perhaps we shouldn’t be surprised. 

It’s all an excuse to get you doing some resource management. There are fifty levels here, and they all ask you to do the same thing: tap on resources to gather them, use those resources to construct buildings, and wait for the buildings to generate yet more resources. Resources are often blocking paths, so collecting them will expand your sphere of influence. And that’s it, really – you are given a list of objectives to complete, and through generating resources you can complete them. 

As with the other games in the series, there’s precious little in your way. A timer ticks down, but that’s only there to determine how many stars you get at the end of the level (and then use on a kind of one-armed bandit of power-ups). There are enemies, but they can’t hurt you, let alone kill you. They are, in fact, glorified rocks and logs in your path, and you have to spend resources to overcome them in exactly the same way. Your greatest enemy is the stuff on the paths. You can’t reach every location, so you need to allocate workers to the blockages that are impeding you. That takes precious time and some hard-won resources. 

Argonauts Agency 3 Chair of Hephaestus Review 2
Expect to be clearing plenty of blockages

This approach makes the 8floor games extremely cozy, which is why they’re so successful (or at least successful enough to release roughly a game per month). They are familiar, threat-free, and as intimidating as a cuddle. It’s entirely possible to enter an out-of-body state where you complete a dozen levels and wonder where all the time has gone. It will never be a recipe for top scores, but it’s clearly generated an audience. 

As with the other Argonauts Agency games, this is even cozier than the others. In other 8floor games it is entirely possible to fail, as you spend resources that you need later on in the level. Those games are more cerebral, as you anticipate what the level requires from you, but we’re not fans of them. You can’t expect a player to relax and pay periodic attention: the two seem at odds. In Argonauts Agency 3: Chair of Hephaestus, your biggest worry will be fatigue. 

Indeed, fatigue is the abiding problem of all these titles. There’s only so much you can do with a single game screen, a maze of paths, and some obstacles blocking those paths. We dare you to play more than a dozen levels in a row: we genuinely think it’s impossible. Even as a cozy game, it feels interminable, and we often wondered if we accidentally played the same level twice in a row. That’s not a good sign. 

Where Argonauts Agency 3: Chair of Hephaestus gets some bonus points is its cave levels. These employ beacons that only light the way once they’ve been ignited. For reasons that we can’t quite explain, it improves the game manyfold. You start out with precious few resources, making best use of the tiny corner of game screen that you’ve been given. And then a beacon is lit, and there’s a sudden reveal of new stuff to do. That slow-reveal is cracking, and we can’t help but wish that 8floor Games would go all in, creating a game that entirely used the mechanic. 

Argonauts Agency 3 Chair of Hephaestus Review 3
Not quite a 3 stars from us

Elsewhere, some familiar flaws arise. Too little gets introduced from one level to another. Markets and portals add a little strategy, but it’s not enough. The three enemies are recycled, and only four or five megastructures get introduced over the course of the fifty levels. 

The most predictable flaw is bugs. For a series that launches monthly, these games are as full of holes as Swiss cheese. We managed to get the game to crash twice, while one achievement is completely unobtainable. For an 8floor game, that’s actually better than expected: save-game issues and poor click areas are rife in their titles. So, while these issues crept up often, they didn’t physically stop us from playing. 

Which leads us to a muted shrug of the shoulders. Argonauts Agency 3: Chair of Hephaestus is the worst entry in the best series of 8floor resource-management games. It averages out at around ‘meh’. It’s hard to get excited about any of it: no one is going to have nightmares about an evil chair, and the contents of each level can be found in all the other titles. It’s a relaxing experience, sure, but we got the feeling that the designers took a few too many days off, too.

REVIEW OVERVIEW
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argonauts-agency-3-chair-of-hephaestus-review<b>Pros:</b> <ul> <li>Greek Mythology setting works a treat</li> <li>So laid-back it’s horizontal</li> <li>Plenty of content</li> </ul> <b>Cons:</b> <ul> <li>Fatigue sets in quickly</li> <li>Story doesn’t engage</li> <li>Very little new over the other games</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 - 17 January 2024 | £4.19</li> </ul>
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