More fun than the first!
BAD Corp CEO Bozo has disappeared. But new intel suggests some sort of secret cybernetics facility on one of their private islands. And of course, it’s underneath a casino.
If this is allowed to continue, BAD’s cyborg army could take over the world!
Agent Venture is en-route. Their mission- shut down the facility! Once more they need a crack support team…
We had the pleasure of playing the first episode in the Agent Venture series, The Heist, in June, and I absolutely adored it. Feeling a bit bereft when few other experiences could even compare to Episode 1, when I saw on Twitter that there was to be a second instalment, I was overjoyed. Gord was kind, and on the day tickets were released, managed to nab a slot to play just a few short weeks later.
We assembled a crack team and patiently waited for the details from Control. When we played Episode 1, I honestly had no idea what the experience would be like. This time, we thought we knew what to expect, and when the details arrived, we were ready for our mission. As it turns out, my expectations were blown out of the stratosphere.
While you technically don’t need to have played Episode 1 prior to playing Episode 2, I would highly recommend it, as Cyborg Island is a continuation of the story introduced in The Heist. Those that have already played Episode 1 will be familiar with the game set up, as the general mechanics for the gameplay of Cyborg Island are identical to those of The Heist. Designed for four to five players, with everyone on the team taking on a specific role in Agent Venture’s support team, the game is audio led rather than live-avatar, so there’s no video feed from Agent Venture.
Don’t let the lack of video feed fool you though. This actually makes the Agent Venture series far more immersive than any live-avatar escape game we have played thus far, and I was fully engaged from the moment we were connected to Agent Venture’s comms link. As we discovered with The Heist, Cyborg Island presented the team with multiple options for achieving our goal, and the mission played out like a choose your own adventure story, where our actions and decisions directly impacted the outcome, and our mission could have played out in any number of ways.
Unlike The Heist, where I as the Hacker felt as though I was the only one with true “puzzles,” Cyborg Island has given more tasks to the other members of the team that require a bit more critical thinking, and feel a bit more “puzzly” than the tasks of Episode 1. Each job has a specific style of “puzzle” to work with – for instance, this time around as the Hacker my Sudoku skills got quite the workout. The Navigator had access to maps, yes, but determining a route often required a hefty amount of critical thinking. The Communicator needed to be quick thinking, and able to improvise, while the Researcher was inundated with vital information. Often, the real puzzle was figuring out what information was most relevant to the mission at hand and relaying it to your team, as we each only had access to some of the required information, and not having a full picture of what lied ahead before proceeding often made the journey even more treacherous for our poor agent on the ground.
The Heist incorporated this teamwork element to a degree, often with two or three members of the team being pulled in to navigate each obstacle, but Cyborg Island perfected it, with every member of the team contributing to each task (for the most part), particularly the final, adrenaline-fuelled challenge.
Agent Venture (played by the remarkably talented Jason (we think that was his name) for our game) is more than just your host, becoming an absolutely integral part of the team. Agent Venture describes exactly what lies ahead, and will even offer suggestions about what could be a good route to take if the team is a bit stuck. Agent Venture will also offer hints about where the information you need may be located, or even if something is wrong with your hacking, but it always felt as though we were bouncing ideas off of a fifth teammate, rather than asking a GM for a clue, and never breaking the immersion.
The Agent Venture games would not be the experience they are without the incredible acting talents of the host. I will be honest, I have always struggled to enjoy podcasts, radio plays, or audiobooks as I often find my attention wandering when required to listen to vast amounts of information (I’m a very tactile person), so I was slightly sceptical about if an audio led experience would be something I would enjoy. It turns out, Jason played our Agent Venture for both The Heist and Cyborg Island, and I am still in awe of how skillfully he drew us into the world of Agent Venture.
Episode 1 of the Agent Venture Saga, The Heist, was one of my absolute favourite play at home experiences, and quite possibly my very favourite involving a live host. Until now that is. I didn’t realise that it was possible to have more fun than I did playing The Heist, but Cyborg Island has surpassed its predecessor. Well done TAiR, well done. I can’t wait to see what happens in Episode 3…
- Number of players: 4-5
- Price: £10 – £14 per person
- Devices: Laptop, PC, tablet (best on laptop/PC, with split-screen)
- Platform: Zoom, + Google Sheets for Hacker
- Time Zone: GMT/BST (London, UK Time)
|Value for Money|
Team: 4 players
Time Taken: 59:43 (yes, it was that close!)
*Disclaimer: we weren’t charged for this experience, but this has not influenced our review.