Review: Hidden Agenda (PS4)

Review: Hidden Agenda (PS4)

Platforms:

  • PlayStation 4

Platform/Hardware Used:

  • PSN Download
  • PS4 Pro
  • HDTV

Extras:

  • PlayLink Mobile or Tablet Required
  • DualShock 4 Required (1)
  • Move None
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Title: Hidden Agenda
Format: Blu-ray Disc / PSN (16.4 GB)
Release Date: October 24, 2017
Publisher: Sony Interactive Entertainment
Developer: Supermassive Games
Original MSRP: $19.99 (US), €19.99 (EU), £15.99 (UK)
ESRB Rating: M
PEGI: 18
A copy of this game was provided by the publisher for review purposes.
PS Nation Review Policy

Hidden Agenda is a PlayLink game from the makers of the Golden Minecart Award Winning, Until Dawn.

Have the talented developers at Supermassive managed to create a gritty crime thriller game where you have to track down the infamous “Trapper” Killer? Read on to find out.

Gameplay:
Hidden Agenda does not make use of the DualShock 4 controller. Aside from loading and quitting the game you won’t go near the regular controls. Instead you and anyone else playing will need to download the Hidden Agenda app on either an Android or iOS device as that is all you will use.

You play by guiding a colored dot into a particular box to signify your choice and searching the screen for clues by guiding the very same dot around until a magnifying glass appears. Aside from a few watered down quick-time-events that entail guiding the colored dot to a box within a short time, that’s all there is to the controls.

Within the app you’ll find an ever-evolving character bio and some takeover cards used to take control of the current decision making and block everyone else out. This can be used to great effect in the competitive mode but is rarely used in the regular story mode, unless my wife is playing.

It sounds simplistic and in many ways it is, but that’s the point. It wants to be an easy to understand gaming experience that anyone can play and it succeeds in that regard.

Watching my mother-in-law trying to figure out complex DualShock 4 controls would have driven everyone to disperse. However, put a phone in her hand and it’s plain sailing until an email or call comes through.

If there are any connection drops then the game automatically pauses and asks if that player should be removed from the game or just wait until they return. I have noticed a few minor issues with the iOS version of the app. The screen occasionally flickers and is sometimes slow to respond and has lost connection once or twice, admittedly only very briefly. The Android app is great and I have not had any problems with it.

During the quick-time-events, we did feel a slight pause in being able to move our dots but never missed a mark. Although it isn’t always a good idea to go for it as the narrative will go down a different path by just ignoring the event.

During my first try, the story that played out ended miserably and prematurely, only because we wanted to see what would happen if we went against our instincts. The second time was much better and it makes me want to see just how different it can be again.

The story is quite compact but still allows for many decisions and there are several occasions where you have time to discuss the killer’s identity and even a few recaps so you can focus on the main plotlines.

We were all pleasantly surprised at how different the second playthrough is with just a few alterations and have seen some of the sections play out in a different way and some entirely new scenes thrown into the mix.

Visuals:
Hidden Agenda borrows a lot from Until Dawn in both the style and the look of the motion-captured actors. Some of the backgrounds aren’t of the highest quality and the wife and I did notice a few glitches. The teleporting judge will always be fondly remembered in our household.

If Until Dawn was movie quality then Hidden Agenda is on par with a TV series. That isn’t to say that any of it is bad, but you can tell the budget was tighter. I’m still impressed with the look of each character as Supermassive is great at avoiding slipping into the uncanny valley.

It’s easy to recognize some of the faces in this game, with the likes of Katie Cassidy, Leonard Roberts, and the awesome Larry Fessenden to name but a few. The acting is great with only a few issues arising from the slight loss of emotion because we aren’t seeing every little nuance and expression, although it does come close.

Audio:
The voice acting is excellent and the lip-syncing continues to be excellent, although the game isn’t perfect in this department either. A few inconsistencies were noticeable in the second playthrough but nothing that detracts from the experience.

Online/Multiplayer:
This game does things a bit differently if you want. There are two modes to choose from, a standard playthrough where everyone gets to experience the story, and a competitive mode that gives players secret objectives via their phones.

Each directive will ask one player to sway the vote in a particular direction. If they succeed then they get points, if the other players guess who had the secret task then they also get points, just not as many.

Some of the game’s mechanics are tailored to three or more people such as the important decision points that crop up many times throughout the game. The majority vote doesn’t quite work when it’s just me and the wife playing. Also, picking such things like the player who is the most trustworthy for example, isn’t as good with just two players.

Conclusion:
Hidden Agenda is a good game with two players but a great game with more. Supermassive has done it again and managed to entertain and enthrall with another memorable experience. They’ve built upon the lessons learned with Until Dawn and crafted something that has to be played more than once.

I adore how each choice can morph the story into something wildly different and we have played it several times, each with a number of new twists. It would have been nice to go back to the beginning of each part instead of replaying the entire game but it doesn’t take that long and in some ways, it would spoil the flow.

However, the reason why this review took such a long time to get finished is the game’s biggest downfall. It demands more than two players to truly succeed and due to busy schedules and family commitments it was a pain to get enough people together for a worthwhile gaming session.

I did not expect to like the use of the mobile phones or tablets as simplistic controllers but it works well and enables more people to not only play but understand the controls within seconds – although the gamer in me feels like I’m cheating on the DualShock.

Score:
8.0

* All screenshots used in this review were taken directly from the game using the Share functionality on the PlayStation 4 and a Xperia XZ Android device.

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Written by Chazz Harrington

Chazz Harrington

You can find me on everything: PSN, Twitter, Wii U, Origin, Steam, etc using my universal ID: ChazzH69

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