Agent A: A Puzzle In Disguise
The basic plot is that Ruby La Rouge, an enemy spy with an awful accent, has killed your boss and several of your fellow Agents. You’re Agent A, the best in the business, and it’s up to you to confront Ruby in her hideaway. No sooner have you found your way through the front door, then Ruby turns the tables and traps you inside with her vicious cat.
What follows is a short but charming homage to spy films as you crack safes, reveal secret rooms hidden behind bookcases, and put oversized precious jewels to good uses.
There are plenty of locations to explore and random items to pick up, but there’s always a clear purpose to your actions, whether it’s opening the next locked door or picking up another yellow wedge to complete the set. The puzzles are never difficult, but they’re varied with memory games and logic puzzles as well as the standard inventory-based puzzles.
Every item you pick up has an obvious use so you’re never left trying every combination of items to proceed, and there are no frustratingly hidden objects forcing you to backtrack and click every pixel.
The graphical style is also nicely done with the 2D cutscenes meshing well with the 3D gameplay. This blog post about the development of the graphics makes for interesting reading.
If Agent A has a minor flaw, it’s that there’s never much sense of danger. Ruby is set up as a cold-blooded killer, but all she does is lock you in her house and mock you. She has sharks in her fish tank and an electrified pool, but there’s no fear of getting dropped into them. The closest the game gets to tension is with a couple of fake outs: “is this ominously red button going to self-destruct and kill me? No. Phew!”.
Agent A’s major flaw, at least for Android, is that the story is incomplete. When you do confront Ruby, the game ends with a cheesy “To Be Continued…” cliffhanger. Apparently an iOS update was released back in December, but development for Android seems to have stalled. I picked up the game during a 90% price reduction period and feel that was fair for an unfinished game. If I’d paid full price, I might have been a bit miffed. If the promised free update for Android does appear, though, I’m sure I’ll enjoy it.
Despite these problems, the game is fun while it lasts. There is a light sense of humour playing up spy-film tropes and making them slightly ridiculous. There are rooms behind bookcases and nefarious-looking machines behind almost every painting.
UPDATE: A third chapter has been released, for free, for the Android version. I’ll take a look and report back!