On August 25th, 2015, Supermassive Games teamed up with Sony Computer Entertainment to release an interactive drama survival horror adventure game titled Until Dawn. Despite the lack of a proper marketing push for the title around launch time, Until Dawn still became a critical success and captivated the hearts of both players and various media outlets located throughout the world.
With the release of Hidden Agenda, Supermassive has succeeded in creating another great game that is also the certified flagship title for PlayStation 4’s new PlayLink initiative. Here are more details on what you can expect from this game should you decide to spend the $19.99 price tag currently attached to it.
Hidden Agenda could be simply classified as an interactive crime thriller action-adventure game played entirely from the third-person perspective. Players take on the respective roles of Homicide Detective Becky Marney (played by Katie Cassidy) and District Attorney Felicity Graves (played by Christy Choi) as a case involving a deranged serial killer referred to as The Trapper intensifies. Through a series of decisions and quick time events, players are able to dictate branching parts of the narrative, discover the true identity of the killer, and determine the fate of certain characters. The campaign has three chapters and will take roughly a little over two hours to complete along with the option of replaying again for different results.
With Hidden Agenda being a PlayLink party title, that means that the game is meant to be played entirely on your mobile phone or tablet. Shortly after downloading the Hidden Agenda app on either your iOS or Android device, your phone becomes the controller and you can interact with the screen to complete actions like making choices, finding clues in certain environments and timing actions appropriately when a button prompt appears. A few of the key options available on this app include a logbook, character biographies, and ripple effects. As you progress through the storyline, all of these sections are updated in real-time and you can either pause the game on your device to read them or look over all of the detailed information at the voluntary break time given after completing every chapter.
Hidden Agenda has two different gameplay modes tailored towards each and every player’s personal preferences. The story can be completed either cooperatively or competitively meaning groups can make joint decisions as a unit or go against each other and score points based on their own agendas. Like every other PlayLink release, this game supports up to 6 players total and is even more rewarding and challenging when you decide to play alongside friends or loved ones.
Graphically, Hidden Agenda looks absolutely breathtaking from start to finish. By using Unreal Engine 4, the developers succeeded in creating the game quickly while maintaining visuals that are right on par with Until Dawn. Facial animations, dimly lit backdrops and intense action sequences fully define the gritty nature of this world and how thrillers are usually shot in Hollywood produced feature films.
When it comes to voice dialogue performances and music, Hidden Agenda also delivers in both of these areas. The actors and actresses succeed in playing individuals that you will either love or hate and you’ll get these reactions instantly after hearing the tone and emotions expressed in their voices. There may be a few lines or reactions used that might appear off for some, but the overall production is nothing short of solid.
On the list of criticisms, there are at least two nit-picky issues that I have with this title. First and foremost, I think it’s important to emphasize that you have to react quickly in certain action sequences. While you are given longer on some decisions, the most crucial ones demand an immediate response and if you aren’t careful you may miss out on a valuable opportunity. This feels like something that could have been made more balanced but it doesn’t diminish the experience and may not be an issue for most.
The other issue that I have which is directly connected to the first lies within the fact that you can’t go back to certain chapters or segments within one of the three parts to change your decision. Since the game is meant to be an interactive movie experience, this means that you have to play through the game again multiple times and make different decisions to get different outcomes. Given the length of the story mode, this won’t be a big deal for some but it may annoy others if they weren’t particularly fond of the game after their first playthrough.
As a PlayLink game, Hidden Agenda is without a doubt an overall fun experience and the best game to make use of this new mobile functionality feature so far. If you and/or your friends are contemplating trying out PlayLink, then I would highly recommend that you consider picking up this short but satisfyingly immersive title as soon as humanly possible.
This review was based on a digital review copy of Hidden Agenda for the PlayStation 4 provided by Sony Interactive Entertainment.