Hidden Agenda is an interactive crime thriller adventure developed by Supermassive Games, the team that brought you the interactive survival horror title, Until Dawn. This time around you are encouraged to join friends and work together to solve a crime using PlayStation’s mobile phone PlayLink feature rather than conventional controls. It’s a fun way to frantically swipe your phone and guide your character through quick time events and decision-making scenarios that make up the bulk of the game.
In Hidden Agenda, up to six people can join the storytelling adventure by installing the PlayLink app and connecting to the PlayStation 4. Each player is assigned a coloured mark which they identify with throughout the campaign. The tone of the crime drama is set from the opening scene and quickly gets players up to speed with the task at hand. The plot is centred around the interactions between the main protagonist, Homicide Detective, Becky Marney and “The Trapper,” a serial killer that rigs the corpses of his initial victims with deadly traps that are set to detonate as soon as the first respondent interacts with the prior target. Jonathan Finn is on death row and a few hours away from being put to death after initially confessing to being the Trapper, and as one would expect, goes back on his confession. Your job is to figure out whether the new evidence is in fact part of a bigger, more cynical crime or if Finn is just trying to avoid his death sentence.
The game features two different modes. The story mode brings you and up to five friends together and tries to access who is best suited to carry out specific tasks. The overall objective is to simply finish the story campaign with varying arcs with a ‘ripple effect’ that guides you in slightly differing directions.
Let’s just say that my first completion of the story mode was underwhelming to say the least; it did however make me want to jump back into the brief campaign to experience a better ending. Based on the group’s decisions, one person will be tasked to take control of a major decision while discussing the best answer with the other players. This mode is essentially and interactive movie night with friends and offers little competitive elements. At times you will be prompted to pull off a quick time event or search for hidden clues; the more of you that play the more likely it is that you’ll best the puzzle… in record time no less.
In the Competition Mode you are presented with the same story line and general mechanics with a slight variation; One of the players in the group will receive a “Hidden Agenda” where they will be prompted to try influence the players around them to make a certain decision. In this mode it is a case of the more-the-merrier as the group spends time discussing why the given choice is the most preferable. Surprisingly, more often than not, you end up with a stalemate with the options being tied on either side. In this instance a player can choose to use a Takeover play which they acquire by being the first to complete a task or spot a clue. This is a great way to force your hand but can open you up to suspicion that you are the one with the hidden agenda. It’s a super concept and at some point, genuinely captivating but loses its impact when playing with fewer people.
For the most part the characters look and sound terrific. There are some instances where the character reaction looks completely out of place and the emotion in their voices doesn’t tie in with the characters facial expression. At one point a character was just sort of re-enacting a scene from The Exorcist with their head spinning just short of 180 degrees. The game's Ripple Effect changes things up enough, specifically towards the end, but sadly Hidden Agenda translates more as to how you can ‘potentially’ enjoy the PlayLink concept rather than a complete experience. That said, at its price point you won’t be breaking the bank to purchase Hidden Agenda and it provides an enjoyable enough adventure for when you want to have the occasional guest around. If Hidden Agenda is a glimpse into what kind of gameplay the PlayLink feature has to offer, especially in the horror or crime genre, we have a lot of gems to look forward to in the future.
Banjo wielding, moonshine drinking, dungaree enthusiast. When not laying back on the porch couch he will be found making minor additions to his porcelain dog home décor.
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Sony Interactive Entertainment
22 November 2017
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