September 29, 2019 at 5:28 AM #856
Rating: 3.0 – Fair
Until Dawn with friends
Supermassive Games has earned a solid reputation for itself thanks to Until Dawn and the "OK" virtual reality title Until Dawn: Rush of Blood. The studio’s latest game, Hidden Agenda, builds on the foundation of Until Dawn, but it also manages to do its own thing to help it stand out. It’s one of the "PlayLink" games on PS4 that uses smartphones for input instead of traditional controllers, but it’s far from Supermassive’s best work.
The core concept of Hidden Agenda is that it is a choice-driven adventure game, kind of like the games from Telltale, or even Supermassive’s own Until Dawn. However, the gimmick is that players play the game in a group, voting on decisions to change the course of the story. In smaller groups, Hidden Agenda is more boring than it is fun, but it functions as a decent party game in larger groups. That’s because the game lets players force decisions, which can lead the story down crazy paths that other people in the group may not agree with. That’s where most of the fun comes from in Hidden Agenda from a multiplayer perspective.
Another reason why Hidden Agenda doesn’t always work as a party game is due to the nature of its story. The game starts off slow, and gradually builds to an interesting climax, regardless of the ending players get (and there are many). The story is about a Saw-like serial killer who is about to be executed, only for the murders to continue. The story changes rather dramatically based on player choice, with players meeting different characters based on choice and experiencing completely different plot developments. Unfortunately, the slow, crime drama story that takes a couple of hours to beat may not be the best for something that is clearly designed to be a party game.
The game’s many story paths and different plot twists should be commended, though. Like Until Dawn, Hidden Agenda feels like it actually delivers on the promise of branching paths, and so that gives the game a lot more replayability than it would have otherwise. Hidden Agenda also benefits from Supermassive’s signature good graphics and strong writing, so its presentation is on point despite its other shortcomings.
As a video game, Hidden Agenda is decent, but its problem is that the story doesn’t necessarily lend itself well to a party atmosphere, yet it’s not nearly as fun to play in smaller groups. I like the idea, and it would be interesting to see other games attempt something like this in the future. In the meantime, Hidden Agenda itself is worth checking out for fans of Supermassive’s previous work, but those looking for a party game should look elsewhere.
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