Not everyone travels around with a controller for their favourite console, but most people use a smartphone all the time. Now take each one of those mobile smartphones and turn it into a controller that not only interacts with games as a controlling mechanism but also grants the player an additional screen which receives and transmits elements from within the game. This is PlayLink. A new way of playing games socially and interactively through your mobile smartphone alongside your PS4. Or as I like to call it the new age of digital board games. So what would happen if we would take PlayLink and pair it up with a game like Hidden Agenda? Well, you’d have a room full of detectives of course. Detectives that are in actual fact your friends and family. Now before beginning any PlayLink title, you’ll have to download the app from your smart device’s app store. Once that’s done make sure that both devices are connected to the same wi-fi network.
Put on your detective hat
Although Hidden Agenda is categorised as an action-adventure game it’s played out in a narrative form. The players are put in the shoes of a detective trying to catch a serial killer. However, players won’t be controlling the protagonist directly but rather making decisions for the characters within the game as the story plays out. With every choice the player makes a different path through the story can be taken. Each choice causes a ripple event which will later come back to either haunt players or reward them.
Hidden Agenda can be played in two ways, Story Mode and Competitive Mode. Story Mode consists of a further two methods of play, single player – where you’ll take on the case solo and multiplayer where you’ll take on the case with friends and family in a co-operative manner. Competitive Mode is played out in a multiplayer aspect where you’ll take on the case along with friends and family again, but this time things tend to become a tad spicier as one player receives a secret mission or hidden agenda that they cannot share with the rest of the group but instead trick other players to move towards the path of their agenda. This is created to cause conflict among the players who in turn will be tasked to stop this hidden agenda from occurring.
Best with friends
Now although you can play the game solo, I highly recommend playing with friends and family. Playing it solo I found every decision was straight cut for me, I knew which path I wanted to take and also did not have to rely on discussing my decision with anyone else. In turn, this isn’t a bad thing but after playing it with others you’ll soon see why it’s better not going at it alone. In co-operative mode players not only have to agree on the same path to take but often we had to vote for a certain player among us that we thought would work well under a certain circumstance. For instance, we would vote for the best player that we thought would work well under pressure. Once the votes were tallied that player was later put in a position of making an important decision/choice for the group. This decision usually created a ripple event within the storyline. A ripple that either made us or broke us. However, players are also given quick time events to acquire takeover cards. These cards can be used throughout the game’s decision-making points to overrule the rest of the group.
A good story to watch unfold but also a story that seems to have been told over and over again in most murder/serial killer/mystery detective movies.
All in all Hidden Agenda is quite unique as an interactive mystery game to play both alone and with a group (preferably with a group). A good story to watch unfold but also a story that seems to have been told over and over again in most murder/serial killer/mystery detective movies. Although you cannot proceed in the normal sense at your own time and pace the PlayLink app on your phone is constantly updated with information for you to read through. The information provided is usually about current events within the game or character profiles. Unfortunately, the information provided isn’t really of any use to the player but rather an encyclopedia of sorts. The problem about the pacing issue again is that once you’ve watched the game play out completely it’s difficult to go back into it alone. Yes, it is quite entertaining playing in a group again to see which other paths can be taken but that’s just about where the fun stops. This game ends up feeling like a digital board game that just cannot be played over and over again, especially since each playthrough can take more than two hours. Two hours that many players out there can possibly spend playing party games a lot less serious and a lot more rewarding.