Agents of Mayhem is an open world, mission based action adventure game set in the Saints Row universe's Seoul and I think it's probably going to be one of my favorite games of 2017. There's something fantastic about the concept of this game. In AoM You play as a variety of characters each with their different ability kits, personalities, and stories in squads comprised of three members as you fight to take down an incredibly generic organization of super-villains called, Legion. The basic framework for combat is smooth and satisfying, traversing Seoul is interesting. All together AoM has all of the pieces to create another great GTA/Saints Row-esque game but, ended up a significantly different, and probably worse game. This being said, I love AoM because, it came out at the right time with the correct subject matter.
The last week has been pretty hellish if you've been paying attention to the news. It feels as though shit has hit the fan with impressive force. Going into this last weekend, I was simply at my limit and I needed a distraction. I turned to various projects and video games, which helped but, it would be close to impossible and irresponsible to drown out the goings on in the world. So, though the break from work was restorative, I was unable to stop obsessing and my mood was completely tanked. Agents of Mayhem is the game which is cheering me up with its goofy characters, written with about as much skill as an Saturday morning cartoon in the 90's.
I loved meeting the agents and learning more about their backgrounds. Braddock, for instance, is a stand out for her persona as a pissed off, cigar smoking, Queer, Black Woman with a bowie knife. Or the old Saints Row favorite, Johnny Gat who has always been a bad-ass. The combat feels amazing, and the strategy around team composition and synergy feels significant and compelling, on harder difficulties. I love Agents of Mayhem for all of these reasons but, craft-wise and critically, it isn't without issues.
Agents of Mayhem, from a craft perspective, isn't a good game. The map, though large enough, has very little variety in terms of objectives, the storyline is cliche, and oh my god, I've only played the damn game for 5 hours and I've heard so many voice lines repeated multiple times. Unfortunately, the repetition isn't limited only to voice lines. Every Legion Lair feels the same as the last, each mission, similar to the last, and the mini-games which set Saints Row apart from GTA are, tragically, missing. It feels as though all of the thought Deep Silver put into Agents of Mayhem went into its cast and very little into the game world. I feel incredibly conflicted about the game and it got me thinking about what makes a great game.
Some of the "best" and most innovative games I can think of aren't that fun to play. I was playing Heavy Rain recently and I realized how cold (pun unintended) playing it left me. Last week as I played Hellblade: Senua's Sacrifice, I balked at the idea of playing a video game where the movement mechanics felt so dissatisfying. Warped as this may be, the idea of only being able to walk throughout the entirety of a video game makes me itch. But, I know it was done for a reason. Being able to dash through the game would completely defeat the purpose of the game's greatest feature, its sound design for which, Senua's Sacrifice should go down as one of the most innovate games of the year. How does one measure categories as subjective as fun, artistic genius, or technological advancement, when it comes to assessing a video game. They are, after all, at their base most understanding, games but, I also would argue, vehemently, that games are art. There's no easy way to reconcile these things.
But as I go back and forth on what I would "rate" Agents of Mayhem, I certainly think its worth playing. Especially for a Queer Black Girl in search for some more diverse games, and a bit of fun in the face of terror.