The trouble with spin-offs is that the original property typically casts an incredibly large shadow. Saints Row started its own run having to escape comparisons to genre-neighbor Grand Theft Auto, eventually carving a niche as the definitive satire of crime-driven open world action/adventures. Agents of Mayhem arrives as a direct spin-off from one of Saints Row IV’s endings and, while it does establish a somewhat compelling fiction of its own, it’s hindered by game design that is suffering its own identity crisis.
The meat of Agents of Mayhem involves putting together a squad of three agents and journeying out into Seoul, South Korea for some...well...mayhem. The agents all have weapons and abilities that feel distinctly different. There’s a style tailored to whatever your play style may be, including a character fully focused on melee combat. Of the 15 difficulties Agents of Mayhem has, you can freestyle with your favorite characters on the lower end but you’ll have to meticulously manage your team’s composition and abilities if you want to stay alive on the higher tiers. Nevertheless, Agents of Mayhem is at its best when you're shooting or swinging at enemies.
Visually, Agents of Mayhem pops in a big way. The game is very, very purple but Seoul, the many agents, and enemies all
Mission structure revolves around story quests and missions you undertake to unlock new agents. Some agent mission are side-quests you tackle at your leisure but, occasionally, you’ll be required to unlock agents as part of the story. Unfortunately for both of these types of quests, you’ll have to journey through the open world to get to them.
I also ran into frequent bugs in the open world, including not being able to get into a vehicle during a special mission (couldn’t call another car, so I had to restart), entire objectives not spawning or suddenly popping up around me, and running into enemies that were unaware of my presence despite me attacking them. The linear sections that take place largely beneath the city had repetitive designs and weren’t immune to issues as well. All too often I’d be directed to a door in order to move forward and have to wait as the spaces behind them were rendered.
Much like the series of
It’s through the dialogue that you get the majority of humorous moments in Agents of Mayhem as well and they’re largely hit or miss. The diversity in the game is incredible to see, but the impact may be lessened for those that aren’t fans of Volition’s staple humor which can occasionally lean on stereotypes. If Saints Row’s humor is whiskey neat, Agents is whiskey with a splash of water. It’s more
There’s a lot of potential scattered around Agents of Mayhem but not enough of it is realized. The shooting and abilities are fun, the characters are interesting and could develop followings individually, but everything is hindered by a half-baked open world. No matter how fun the shooting is, the in-between moments are consistently a chore. If this was intended to spring a new series of games to life, the initial effort spits and sputters on the launch pad.
This review is based on a PS4 code provided by the publisher and the game was played on PS4 Pro. Agents of Mayhem is now available on PC, PlayStation 4, and Xbox One for $59.99. The game is rated M.