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Agent Alice (iOS) Review: Like a Carrot on a Stick

Agent Alice puts you in the role of a detective, but can you find the clues and not purchase additional cash?

Agent Alice launched on the App Store and Google Play a few weeks ago, and since then my wife and I have been settling down of an evening to play through Wooga’s new hidden object adventure game. But this isn’t just any old hidden object game, there’s something unique about it.. almost.. supernatural? But is the episodic free-to-play title full of hide-and-seek goodies? Or does the games in-app purchases and forced waiting times hinder the investigation?

Agent Alice is a free-to-play hidden object game designed specifically for mobile which means clunky mouse controls are no longer present and you’re free to tap and swipe across the screen to your hearts content something which any veteran hidden object player will adore. There’s also the addition of puzzles in which the player must complete to progress the investigation of the mystery at hand. It’s this modernisation of a classic genre which is welcomed by fans of Wooga, and as someone new to Wooga’s hidden object games but has played through no-end of PC based titles, the touch mechanics are a breath of fresh air.

The game itself features a series of episodes each of which contain their own supernatural mystery to solve, though admittedly the story was fairly easy to glaze over if you’d rather just solve puzzles. In the same vein however, the story is so easy to follow you’ll be able to get to grips with the plot points without having to concentrate too hard on the dialogue, which for someone with a short attention span, like me, is a pretty good thing.

Agent Alice (iOS) Review: Like a Carrot on a Stick - n3rdabl3

As the game is free-to-play however, there are some things to consider, things that aren’t overly apparent until you get to the second episode: In Agent Alice, you’re going to find yourself waiting to play the game, a lot. The first episode acts as more of a tutorial of the game’s mechanics and you’ll notice that once you’ve solved one part of the mystery, you’ll get an energy refill. This happens a lot in the first episode in order to help you get to grips with the game. Once you hit the second episode however, the itch to spend some real cash surfaces as the Energy refills are much less frequent.

Agent Alice offers three types of in-game currencies, the first is energy which you spend every time you tackle a new scenario. Each scenario, once completed, rewards you with a star based on the points you earn, most levels offer three or four stars, but you’ll need to tackle the scenario multiple times in order to achieve them. The stars are the next form of currency as they’re used to progress the games story by “investigating” evidence, or continuing the game’s dialogue. It’s also used to play the game’s various mini-games and puzzles.

The third in-game currency is cash, this is the premium currency which is used to purchase Energy and Stars as well as eliminating the timer on each of the mysteries next plot points. Of course, you don’t have to spend a penny playing Agent Alice, but if you enjoy this sort of game, you won’t want to put it down and the urge to spend does surface. Mostly because unless you spend some of the game’s cash, you’ll be waiting for around two hours for the next part of the investigation to unlock.

Now, this isn’t necessarily a bad point, it actually works hand-in-hand with the Energy regeneration, as the wait to unlock the next part also allows you to recharge Energy so when you return later in the day, you’ll be able to continue for longer.

Agent Alice (iOS) Review: Like a Carrot on a Stick - n3rdabl3

I do however get the feeling that once you spend real money on the in-game cash, you’ll start a snowball effect until you’re next timed hurdle, with players paying to remove the timer, then finding they have no Energy so they pay for more in-game cash, to buy more energy.. then the cycle continues. Simply put, if you have no self control, you could quickly find yourself spending a lot of money quite quickly. But that’s something apparent with most free-to-play titles.

Visually, Agent Alice is a gorgeous game. The hand-drawn art style is something to admire and each of the game’s scenarios and environments are so intricately detailed (I mean, they’d have to be with this sort of game) you can often get lost in the art and find that your multiplier countdown has been spent before you can find the next object. Speaking of objects, each level doesn’t just repeat the same selection of hidden items, which is fantastic as you’ll often be repeating the same one over and over to get all of the stars. More times than I can count I was thrown off as a tree had turned into a statue, or some musical notes had changed into a crown.

As the game is episodic, Wooga plan to release new episodes on a weekly basis, so once you’ve caught up, you’ll be pleased to know that there’s always some more content around the corner. In fact we caught up with the game’s developers at the Agent Alice launch party where they revealed that they’ve already created around six seasons of content, so there’s plenty more to come. Wooga have also taken a leaf out of other episodic adventure game’s books by offering player choice. Though unlike other games the choice doesn’t seem to have any overarching affect on the game’s story, it’s more to decide what puzzle you’ll be playing next.

Speaking of which, the puzzles are a perfect way to keep the game fresh. These puzzles come in many forms whether it’s tapping at the right time to shoot a bad guy, fitting pieces of a torn up letter back together, or picking a lock. This strays away completely from the game’s main hidden object genre, keeping you on your toes and stopping the game from becoming stale.

Agent Alice (iOS) Review: Like a Carrot on a Stick - n3rdabl3

Overall, like with all free-to-play games, if you can see past the in-app purchases and free-to-play mechanics, then Agent Alice is an absolutely fabulous little puzzle game. It’s not too overly demanding of your attention so you can pick-up-and-play the game wherever you are, whatever you’re doing. Though the wait times can be frustrating, like a juicy carrot on a stick, it does give you a chance not to get too engrossed in the game and continue your life being an ordinary person, not a super secret agent..

Agent Alice is free to play and is available in the App Store and Google Play for all devices, not just tablets!