Reviewed: May 12, 2006
Released: March 16, 2006
At last an adventure game worthy of playing. AGON: The Mysterious Codex is the first three chapters or episodes of the adventure series AGON or Ancient Games of Nations. This adventure mystery is from Viva Media, the same company that brought us other titles like Fritz 9 chess and Crazy Machines. You are placed in the role of Professor Samuel Hunt on the elusive trail of the Ancient Games of Nations.
Donít ask me why youíre hunting down these varied games from around the world or if youíre going to get some final huge treasure or save the world when you finally do master all the games. The fun is in the quest and conquering the puzzles laid out before you. Plus the additional little bits of knowledge, wisdom and the chance to help others along the way. This is your typical adventure game in that you have to solve puzzles to move along the path toward your ultimate goal but it is a very well crafted story and finely made adventure game.
You start at your office in the British Museum where you are given the start to this adventure by going through the stuff in your office. Then itís on to other offices and rooms in the building with more clues and puzzles to sort through. The whole story around AGON has you discovering papers about some artifacts your museum has received.
You go in search of more information about these artifacts and papers and it leads you around the world in search of AGON or the Ancient Games of Nations. The Mysterious Codex is the papers you uncovered at the start and you add more to this as you continue on your quest around the world. You play two of the games in the first three chapters after unlocking the clues to their whereabouts.
The Mysterious Codex puts you in search of people that guard the Ancient Games of Nations that they have held for generations as their protectors. These games are merely board type games that you get to play against the keepers until you win and then move on to the next set of puzzles toward the next game keeper.
You have an inventory page to store items you pick up and some you combine to use for various parts of your adventure. In other adventure games I have played you are lead in silly hunts that have nothing to do with the puzzle at hand or the whole adventure. AGON does not lead you on silly side trips or down paths already too well traveled. A few times during the puzzle hunting and clue finding you will backtrack but this makes perfect sense when it does happen.
The clues and puzzles can be hard but you can figure them out and they are logical or make sense if you think hard enough. Some are merely getting things correct after trial and error but thatís the fun of some of it. Having said this, the game does not add in any silly puzzles that have nothing to do with you getting to your goal, the games each keeper is holding.
Many of the clues are hidden so that the finder will be worthy of playing the games against their keepers when they reach that point. The games of nations are fun to play as well as the puzzles you have to figure out to get to them. They are all real games from around the world that have been used in the crafting of the story you embark on, at least the first ones in this part of the episodes. According to the website this is the first three chapters and more will be coming out soon. You can also download the chapters individually but it is nice for some to just have them in a nice boxed set on one CD to load onto their computer.
Each chapter of the game has you in one locale accomplishing goals and then you journey to another after getting to read about the next location. The first three chapters put you at the London Museum, then on to Lapland in Northern Europe and finally on the island of Madagascar. After completing puzzles you get to play the first game of nations called Talbut. They give you the rules but it will still be a trial and error sort of deal to get the hang of the game until you can beat the keeper of the game.
The next locale will be sunny Madagascar and you will be finding your way through dense tropical forests. After helping a marooned sailor, puzzling through a mystery and sneaking in on some locals you will get to play the last game called Fanorona. This too will be somewhat easy to learn but a challenge to beat, but you can win against the keeper and move on to the ending movie.
AGON: The Mysterious Codex is a pretty good adventure game and the graphics worked out well. You cannot really tell what objects in any scene are yours for the taking until you pass over them with the cursor. The objects will get a little halo effect on them when you can place them somewhere in a scene but you have to rely on clues to figure out what to do with things.
The cut scenes are pretty good looking and the load screens donít last long. The scenes you play in are well textured and look very good. I did not notice any glitching or have any problems doing any of the puzzles during play. The game has some pretty low requirements and does pretty good considering this.
Gentle breezes on the beach at Madagascar or the howling north winds of Lapland are both done well in AGON. The games narration and sound effects all added to create a good game. The actors that played the parts read their lines well and had a good story line to follow that made for a well-crafted adventure. I found no glitching with the sound and it came across well on surround sound.
One unique addition that worked especially well I will not give away but to tell you that sound and direction of sound played a key role. The developer again created unique and interesting additions to the puzzles of the game to make this an enjoyable adventure.
AGON: The Mysterious Codex is only the first part in this series and is a fairly good buy. It will take more than just a few hours to complete unless you use a walkthrough or cheats. The puzzles and games are fun to figure out and lead a lot to the story that is well made.
You can even play the games of nations against the keepers without going through the adventure if you enjoy them. You can practice without having to go into the adventure completely and you can even change the difficulty settings to add challenge to the play. It may even lead you to buying one of them separately as a board or computer game. Each would actually be easy to make yourself with a board and some chips or marbles plus there are some computer games of them out on the Internet.
AGON: The Mysterious Codex is a well-crafted and fun adventure game. It takes a bit of work to get through some of the puzzles but is interesting as well as a challenge. The games you get to play that are The Ancient Games of Nations are fun as well and make an integral part of the story line.
Creating a game that links several different puzzles together in a way that makes you want to move on and solve the rest is what a good adventure game is all about. AGON: The Mysterious Codex is not only a fun adventure game but has a few board games that are part of the story line. It takes some good crafting to add an adventure with puzzles to solve just to get to play the board game at the end of each section and have it all make sense.