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Argonauts Agency 6: Missing Daughter Review

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Six games in a series is no mean feat. There are clearly avid fans of this little city management series. Six games in less than six months, though, is almost unheard of. A pact with the devil has clearly been signed and stored in a drawer somewhere. 

The secret to producing six games in such a short space of time is very evident in Argonauts Agency 6: Missing Daughter. Not a single thing has been added or removed. All that has changed are the levels, each a remixed version of one that came previously. If you had played Argonauts Agency 5 shortly beforehand, you would be pressing the Home button to check that you hadn’t accidentally replayed it. 

Argonauts Agency 6 Missing Daughter review 1
The Argonauts Agency series trudges on

The sole element that qualifies as ‘different’ is the story. But different doesn’t always mean better, as Missing Daughter starts off limp. Instead of tempting you with Golden Fleeces or Pandora’s Boxes, Missing Daughter starts off with a bad harvest. It’s not exactly the stuff of myth. Eventually a chain of events reveals that the bad harvest is connected to Persephone being lost in The Underworld, but you have to play a few hours before that becomes clear. Bad harvests is all you will have for a third of the game’s runtime. 

Exploring the Underworld, though, is pretty exciting, right? Surely it will be coupled with unique mechanics and a sense of descending into the realms of Tartarus. Argonauts Agency 6: Missing Daughter isn’t quite up for the challenge, though, as all of the same buildings and enemies are present from the levels that came before it. How lumber yards, trees and farmyards work in the Underworld is certainly a question, but Argonauts Agency 6: Missing Daughter doesn’t fancy answering it. 

The Underworld instead becomes an opportunity to reuse the ‘lights out’ mechanic that it’s used in every game in the series. A pall-like fog of war falls over the level, and you have to light beacons to clear it. It’s been used for dragon caves and underground passages: now it’s being used for the Land of the Dead. When seen in the wider context of 8floor’s other games, it’s at least a bit of a context-switch: you don’t get to do any beacon-lighting in their other games, like Gnomes Garden. But in the context of Argonauts Agency, it’s a bit same-old, same-old. The Underworld should have been an opportunity to do something dark and twisted: here, it’s humdrum. 

The conclusion for people who have played the series is an easy one: this is nothing new. Literally so – there is absolutely nothing here that the other games haven’t done. If we were being charitable, the positive is that Argonauts Agency has always been the most laid-back of the 8floor games, acting less as puzzles and more like a process. Tap away in your own time (as long as you avoid the star rating system), and create a functioning city to complete the level’s objectives. Argonauts Agency 6: Missing Daughter continues in this vein. 

Argonauts Agency 6 Missing Daughter review 2
There’s nothing new or exciting in this one

But we’re not feeling charitable, having dedicated a week or so to these games. Argonauts Agency 6: Missing Daughter is the first in the series to use the Aery playbook and deliver the minimum viable product. It’s difficult to imagine a lazier sequel in the series. Fewer levels, perhaps, or actually repeated ones? Perhaps, but we worry that might give them ideas. 

For anyone who hasn’t played the Argonauts Agency games or other, similar, 8floor titles, then the past few paragraphs won’t make a lot of sense. What Argonauts Agency 6: Missing Daughter represents is the leanest, most stripped back version of a city-builder that you could possibly imagine. It’s what happens when you deconstruct Sim City or Cities Skylines to seven or eight plots of land, force you to build something specific in each of those plots, and then separate the game into sixty-odd levels. 

Each level fits into a game screen. A worker tent is where you start, and you control the worker inside with your cursor. The first port of call is to clear the resources around that tent, all achieved with a tap of that cursor. Resources soon stack up, and you have enough to regenerate one of the ruined plots around your tent. They become farmyards, mines and lumberyards, ready to produce resources that, again, your workers harvest.

The reason for all this gathering and building is the level’s objectives. They’re rarely anything more than ‘do everything in the area’. Minotaurs and golems need to be defeated, or all the bridges need to be built. With the level looking clean and restored, you are given a star rating (or not, if you are playing on casual), and you can move onto the next level. 

Argonauts Agency 6 Missing Daughter review 3
The only 3 stars Argonauts Agency 6 is getting!

It has a laid-back patter to it. There’s a reason we’ve kept on reviewing these games, even after twenty or more of them: they’re just not very demanding. You can shift yourself into first gear, barely generating a thought, and make your way through reminiscent levels. There’s definitely a value to them.

But they’re also fatigue farms. Play more than five levels on the trot and – if you’re like us – you can begin to glaze over. There are only so many different ways you can place paths, resources and buildings and still remain interesting. Perhaps one level needs markets to trade for resources, while another has a surplus of resources. That’s about all that the level designers have to play with. It must be a frustrating job. 

The result is Argonauts Agency 6: Missing Daughter – an impossible challenge for any level designer. Can you create something new with no new materials? Can you deliver something fresh when there have been five previous games that have used the same ingredients as you? The answer is, inevitably, no. The problem was in the question. There was no way this was going to be anything but a chore.

SUMMARY

Pros:
  • Chilled gameplay
  • Game loops are tried and tested now
Cons:
  • Story is innocuous
  • Absolutely nothing new to add
  • The Underworld is surprisingly boring
  • Lazy sequel-making
Info:
  • Massive thanks for the free copy of the game, TXH
  • Formats - Xbox Series X|S, Xbox One (review)
  • Release date and price - 17 April 2024 | £4.19
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<b>Pros:</b> <ul> <li>Chilled gameplay</li> <li>Game loops are tried and tested now</li> </ul> <b>Cons:</b> <ul> <li>Story is innocuous</li> <li>Absolutely nothing new to add</li> <li>The Underworld is surprisingly boring</li> <li>Lazy sequel-making</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 April 2024 | £4.19</li> </ul>Argonauts Agency 6: Missing Daughter Review
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