Agent A – A Puzzle in Disguise (Switch) Review
Get out your incorrectly made martinis and your nicest black ties: Agent A: A Puzzle In Disguise has launched on the Switch. The good news? It’s a fantastic game. Engaging, cleverly designed and great to look at. The bad news? The transition from mobile to the Switch is maybe a little clumsy. Let’s pull out the magnifying glass (or some other, better spy tool probably) and take a bit of a closer look.
For newbies, this is your classic Myst-like: you’ll wander around a fairly open environment, finding clues, puzzles and keys. You’ll be constantly walking back and forth to match the new thing you found to that other thing with the matching symbols, unlocking doors and areas and slowly making progress towards your goal. It’s an addictive loop – as you open a new lockbox you’ll discover items that immediately click as the solution to a puzzle somewhere else, which completes a task that will instantly remind you of something else again, and so on and so on. Nothing is particularly archaic and difficult to work out, but most solutions aren’t blindingly obvious.
It’s a great balance and I was constantly challenged, but only to the point that I felt smart for completing everything. I was never frustrated, which was honestly a godsend as it’s so easy for point and click adventures to get too into their own weird brand of logic and become completely alienating. Also, I could easily see all the items! No pixel hunting here. As your area available to wander expands, it can get a little tedious having to travel to opposite ends of the map, but the game doesn’t overstay its welcome and you’ll wrap up in a neat 4-5 hours before it gets too old. There’s no bonus missions or paid DLC here, just the 5 chapters, and while I would have loved more content I think there’s definitely a place in this modern age for a well put together, standalone experience. The ending does set itself up for a sequel though. I’d love to see it happen.
All this fun is wrapped up in a very tidy spy-themed package (who woulda thunk it). It’s very much a homage to a 1960s Bond style of spycraft, with retro-future gadgetry, jetpacks, secret submarines and a lot of quick pop culture references in the spry, witty dialogue. The narrative centres around you, as Agent A, trying to stop enemy agent Ruby La Rouge in her own secret lair after she assassinates your agency’s chief. It’s compact, and simple, but throws a few twists at you, and most importantly keeps the drive and the urgency going for your puzzle solving. Everything is very charming, and very effective. The game also looks great, with an almost hand-drawn looking 2D character style somehow matching the simple 3D polygons of the environmental design perfectly. I’m glad they went for a simpler art style as well, as it makes everything important visible and distinguishable – nothing is lost to the background. The 60s-style soundtrack and melodramatic voicework keep the style and theme going, and they’re pleasant enough. The music’s not winning any awards, and yeah, the characters’ international accents are clearly just Australians trying their hardest, but would it really be a 60s spy film without some cheesy acting?
I’ve been putting it off a little but we need to talk about how this fits on the Switch. To be quite frank, it doesn’t. You’re given the option for touch or joy-con controls, but using joysticks to aim a reticule at small objects just isn’t fun. It takes significantly longer to enter things like numbers on a door’s keypad, and while sensitivity is adjustable I couldn’t get precise with the pointer at all. Touch is a breeze though, and you can immediately tell the game is designed for it – I feel like more thought needs to be put in by developers towards playing games in multiple modes, as I wanted to play this docked but found myself put off by the joystick controls. I would have loved to see a gyro-driven pointer, for example. A lot of puzzles require notetaking or screenshots as well, and while the Switch CAN do this I don’t feel like it’s supposed to do it – having to navigate out to your album is by no means a quick, seamless experience. Lastly, there were also some performance issues in cutscenes, with dropped frames and a nasty audio bug. Hopefully, this gets fixed in a patch, as while not affecting gameplay I did need to turn down the volume for a few cutscenes.
All up though, I loved Agent A. It’s cute, clever and an absolute joy of a world to play around in. It’s the sort of game where you can, like I did, invite someone to sit on the couch with you and help out with some puzzle solving, or just keep it on hand to occasionally pick up and play through a chapter. It’s absolutely worth your time and money, but if you’re grabbing it for the Switch just be prepared for a more handheld experience.
- Perfect difficulty level
- Fun aesthetic
- Great, witty writing
- Joy-con controls don’t fit well
- Travel between areas gets boring
- Technical issues