Hidden Agenda Review: A Bit of a Hit and Miss on the New PS4 PlayLink
In 2015, Supermassive Games released Until Dawn, a cinematic single-player game with a unique social experience. Continuing their foray into the world of choose-your-adventure games, they have come up with another game with a more explicit multiplayer aspect in Hidden Agenda. Released as a part of Sony’s PlayLink lineup of mobile-enabled social games for PS4, it has some great points, as well as some minor niggles. Let’s take a closer look at this short but in-depth review.
The Game Genre
This is a story-rich game where choices matter. Regarding mechanics, it has some common features like Quick Time Events, and frequent dialogue options and branching choices. The choices you make can take the story forward in wildly different directions in each playthrough. It is quite similar in this respect to its predecessor, Until Dawn, and other popular series like the Walking Dead and Game of Thrones by Telltale Games.
Hidden Agenda is an unapologetically dark and psychological thriller, with the hunt for a serial killer at the core of its story. It is a mashup of police procedurals like Law & Order or CSI, and psycho thriller gorefests like Saw or Seven. You play the role of Detective Becky Marney and DA Felicity Graves, who are both on the hunt for a serial killer called The Trapper. The story begins with a twist, with the revelation that the guy who Detective Marney put on death row may not be the real Trapper.
As a part of the new PlayLink system, Hidden Agenda can be played by several players simultaneously, using their iPhones. All the players will have to download a dedicated app which is available on the AppStore. It is largeish at around 120MBs, and there are some initial troubles related to connecting to the WiFi and PlayLink hub. Controls are also slightly iffy and laggy, as you try to use the touchscreen to move a pointer around to make choices and perform QTEs.
Graphics and Sound
Supermassive Games made Until Dawn as a highly cinematic and polished experience, with stellar and detailed graphics and sound. And they have not disappointed with the presentation aspects in Hidden Agenda. Graphics look excellent, with detailed textures and motion capture used extensively for the main characters. But for many, it might look like a slight step down when compared to the levels the publisher achieved in Until Dawn two years ago. The sound is also pretty good, with voice acting that is on the whole very polished.
Hidden Agenda offers two widely varying gaming experiences. In singleplayer story mode, it is a not too original psycho killer mystery adventure, with a very dark atmosphere. In multiplayer mode, it is a different experience altogether. When playing with others, decisions are chosen by voting, and for key decisions, you need a unanimous vote. So this involves a lot of interaction between the players. And in competitive mode, one of the players is given a Hidden Agenda, which they have to try and achieve without tipping off the others. The name of the game is derived from this feature.
There is a lot of promise in Hidden Agenda, some of which is left unfulfilled. The PlayLink setup requires more work, as it suffers from some inevitable teething issues. And the story and atmosphere of the game are far from original. But the social aspects of the gameplay is unique and it clicks at times. But in a very complex choice-based game, when it doesn’t click, which can be quite often, you will end up with failure. At two hours of playthrough duration, it is not too long either. But for an interesting experience with friends, this is well worth a look.