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Hidden Agenda (2017): A Review

Hidden Agenda

An Interactive Murder Mystery Adventure

Hidden Agenda is a detective psychological adventure made by the studio Supermassive Games, the developers of Until Dawn. Done in third person, the game focuses on a detective solving cases while making choices that affect the outcome of the story. The game follows many of the unique narrative stories made by Supermassive Games with unique ideas in the game. 

The game was released in 2017 and is available to play with a group of people on the PS4. There is the option for others to join into the main playthrough and use their androids and iOS phones to help change the approach of the story. These secondary players can have a “hidden agenda” to change the outcome of the story and it’s up to the players to take the options.

Interactive Storytelling

Hidden Agenda follows the investigations of Becky Marney as she tries to track down the serial killer known as The Trapper while rescuing hostages and captors along the way. The story of the game is divided in three parts that follow Becky and other supporting characters as the case escalates. Throughout the story of the game, quick time events and branching dialogue are used to drive the narrative in different ways.

Players can act on the scene, behave in interviews, and discuss the case in different ways that affect the flow of the story. This is very similar to the narrative approach of Until Dawn, which has the butterfly effect that goes off whenever characters make a decisive choice. For Hidden Agenda it’s called the ripple effect but it means the same thing in context to the game design.

Other Works Similar to Hidden Agenda

Hidden Agenda plays and feels similar to LA Noire, a game published by Rockstar. The two games do similar things from on site investigations to the dialogue trees in interrogations. There was also a lot of attention to the detail of character models and facial features of the character. This creates an opportunity to read the expressions of the suspects and give players the freedom to determine their verdict.

Other games similar to Hidden Agenda are the Dark Anthology series of horror games made by the same development team as Until Dawn and have similar visuals and graphics. Supermassive Games have been incredibly consistent with their works and this game could fit with these other games to play together.

Hidden Agenda

Uncanny Realism in Video Game Characters 

Supermassive Games are known for taking the ideas of games like Heavy Rain and Beyond: Two Souls and taking them to the next level. Along with having interactive storytelling, the graphics are unreal. Many of the characters are modeled after their actors and with the technology of motion capture, many reach an uncanny level of detail.

There are a few cases and moments when the motion capture forces the actors to exaggerate their expressions with humorous results. Despite that it does make dramatic scenes more intense and suspenseful scenes more engaging. Dirt, injuries, even sweat is shown accurately to how live action actors are portrayed in film. Although they did their best for these games, sometimes the effect gets glitchy every so often for unintentional laughs. As a result, these games are infamous for meme material.

How Quick Time Events Immerse Players into the Story

Quick Time events are moments in games where players push buttons and react to perilous events to either defeat opponents or escape a gameover. QTEs have become a part of games since the release of Shenmue for the Dreamcast and became popular with God of War and Resident Evil 4. Their usage in action and horror games help immerse the players into the action presented and allow for interacting in what would normally be a normal cutscene.

Turning these normal cutscenes into interactable moments are vital in keeping players invested into the events of the game. It helps when there are also consequences for failing them. Normally it’s a game over but in these kinds of interactive games it leads to the death scene and the story continues on, affecting the overall narrative as a result.

Like many PS4 games, Hidden Agenda can be downloaded and played on the PS5. The game is engaging and does a great job invoking suspense and urgency to solve the case as well as possible. The fun addition of having other “players” engage in the investigation makes the game a fun experience for a group of people. Having them vote for certain choices and options with a “hidden agenda” makes the game feel like a fun, interactable episode of Law and Order.

Hidden Agenda

Hidden Agenda (2017) Official PlayStation Trailer

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An enthusiast of Fantasy and Sci-Fi. I loved reading about the stories and worlds of video games and movies and writing on a multitude of subjects, from lists to reviews.