Obtained in an eShop haul, Agent A – A Puzzle In Disguise (as their mother named them) was one of those titles firmly sitting on my digital shelf desperately craving attention.
Then, following a family screening of Get Smart, this spy caper got a good seeing to.
Swapping the Walther PP for an interfering cursor to poke around at the screen, you play the titular Agent A in their hunt for Ruby La Rogue.
Now there’s a femme fatale if ever I heard one.
Put down that Martini for a moment and read on in this…
…Agent A Switch Review
What to say about Agent A? Not much as they don’t steal the show with their constant one-liners about Christmas cumming early, or any other nob-joke.
That’s right; this isn’t an action-adventure or a shooter for that matter, but a well-balanced problem-solving title that first appeared on mobiles.
As a non-mobile gamer, my expertise on that platform is just Mario Kart Tour, but what I do know about Agent A is that it was initially an episodic title – releasing one after the other.
Thankfully, the Nintendo Switch version is a compilation of all those episodes, so 1) no waiting, 2) no extra expense.
As Agent A, you’re on the hunt for the elusive Ruby who is a bit like the old version of Carmen Sandiego; only you get a glimpse of this evil mastermind in the opening sequence.
Raiding her condo, you first have to find a way to break into her home then locate hidden objects that will help you track her down.
Rather than pick up a key on a mantlepiece or coffee table; you need to pull apart objects or interact with items and figure out button sequences to make any progress.
The puzzles themselves are reasonably intuitive.
As there aren’t many locations you can go to at any one time, it’s mostly a process of elimination of tapping the buttons and moving the cursor or touchscreen to identify points to interact with.
Sometimes it’s obvious what you should do; other times, it requires a little bit of luck or trial and error by using visual clues.
Agent A is not entirely led by what’s on-screen, but there are audio clues as well, such as the clicks and thuds of secret doors or compartments unlocking.
It just makes you wonder why Ruby has this many obstacles for a simple thing such as unlocking a door.
God knows how long it takes her to get ready in the morning.
Licence To Kill Not Required
Because Agent A is a puzzle game, there isn’t any need to watch out for your health, time limits or investing currency into a stat.
The story is told through a first-person perspective as you wander around Ruby’s home, making a mental note of everything you encounter.
There’s not a test at the end where you’re rewarded for your observation skills, but paying attention to everything makes a difference as you’ll be returning to the same locations often.
Jumping back and forth a screen is easy as you tap the direction you want to go, pressing the B button to go back one scene.
Locations are static, but find a point of interest such as a puzzle or clue to uncover and the viewpoint will zoom in.
Though the graphics are quite simplistic in their design, it is quite easy to miss items.
In the first two chapters, you need to collect several wedges to complete a puzzle; I had all but one and retracing my steps, again and again, was a little annoying.
Throughout the five chapters, Ruby is trying to undermine your efforts as the uber spy in the business.
Other than Ruby and Agent A’s late boss (not a spoiler), there aren’t any images of Agent A, and they are neither defined as male or female or have their age specified.
This eliminates the need for a suave middle-aged man creeping about in an ill-fitting tuxedo.
If it were down to me, I’d be doing the puzzle commando style.
You can’t die in Agent A, so all of Ruby’s booby traps are just part of the game where you have to reverse engineer her efforts.
The pace and level of difficulty of said puzzles are just right, and while I could say you’d finish this in one sitting, the game is best played as a slow burner.
There’s no rush.
It won’t be without the odd challenge where you get a bit stumped, and I’ll level with you and say that I had to take a break from the game as I got stuck.
Returning to the puzzle once more, it was looking at me in the face, and I was able to get back to being the number one spy.
In this household at least.
Interior Design By Bourne
Whoever Ruby’s interior designer is, they’re both sadistic and have a flair for style.
Ruby has expensive taste, and while there isn’t a ‘present-day’ subtitle displayed, there’s a certain feel of 60s spy capers, and it works great.
Agent A will deliver a few witty lines, and Ruby proves to be quite the nemesis – often appearing within reach, then disappearing – ninja style but without the smoke.
The colours and illustration style are excellent throughout, but the highlight from my experience was the music.
Both the tempo and timing all give off that sleuth type vibe, and while you aren’t stepping over tripwires or avoiding lasers as such, there’s a degree of danger involved and as a result, an enjoyable puzzle adventure.