Agon: Lost Sword of Toledo Review (PC)

Upon loading up Agon: The Lost Sword of Toledo I was immediately reminded of the opening scenes to puzzle adventure movies like National Treasure, which I suspect was exactly the point.  The Lost Sword is the fourth offering in this series, the other three presented together in what is labeled Chapter 1 making Agon: The Lost Sword of Toledo Chapter 2.  Confused yet?  No?  Good.

And so we begin.  A watercolor introduction to the countryside.

Node to node travel on the map.

In Agon you continue to follow the adventures of Samuel Hunt, a Professor from England who has been charged by the British Museum to find a number of items, including documents and puzzle games.  This search takes him on many travels, in this case arriving in the beautiful town of Toledo, Spain.  Here he attempts to contact his wife’s old drawing teacher only to find that the man has died, leaving behind a daughter who is betrothed against her will and in love with the son of the very family you’ve come to speak to about the game you’re seeking.  Convenient, but it wouldn’t be an adventure game without a little bit of convenient coincidence.  Now he must find the game he seeks, the lost – and supposedly stolen – Sword of Toledo, and reunite the lovers saving Carmen from a terrible fate, all before Carmen’s birthday.

Agon is controlled through a simple node to node point and click interface using the mouse to look around and guide you through the room you’re currently in and the map to jump from place to place.  Once you’ve spoken to an NPC who gives you a location that place appears in color on the map and can be easily moved to.  You’re in first person most of the time, a viewpoint that many recent adventure games have moved away from.  Personally I like this mode just as well as third person.’

However, the thing that did annoy me highly was the inability to click through dialogues quickly.  Once an interaction is begun you have to wait until the speaking part naturally finishes before you can move on.  As far as I’m concerned the reason games are subtitled is because I can read faster than listen to the voice acting and can move through the conversations quickly.  There were several points during long conversations where I left the computer to get a snack and then read back in the journal to get the pertinent information.

Ahh…the piteous Carmen.

I love the backgrounds!

Speaking of journals, the log book in Agon is a very useful tool.  It keeps track of the conversation arcs that are of importance to the game so that you can review them whenever necessary, which is fairly often.  Agon is a very detailed game and requires that you pay attention to the items you can interact with, especially anything you can put into your inventory.  I love what they’ve done by using many types of scripts in the books and letters, but then giving you an option to mouseover the text and get a typed version that’s simple to read.  The puzzles were challenging, more so if you’d missed a detail early on and had to return to gather an item or a clue.  Most of the game is focused on NPC interaction and puzzles, so it’s a rather sedate kind of adventure.

Technically the game is very good.  The voice acting works for the most part, though I wanted to know why everyone in Spain speaks mostly unaccented English, and the score and background music is understated but fits with the setting.  There’s the occasional odd guitar twang that I suspect is supposed to cause heightened anxiety, but mostly made me turn down the music.

Graphically this game really shines.  It’s a very pretty game in terms of animation, background and character modeling.  There are moments that really feel like you’ve walked into a painting and are being allowed to look around, and I loved that.  I liked going to new areas of the city just to see what other scenery had been presented.  If I had any complaint it would be that there was sometimes a black line that would show on character’s faces or the lip motions would end up slightly out of time with the words.

Searching for answers.

At the hands of the artist…

Overall I enjoyed playing Agon, but there isn’t a lot of replayability to the game.  Once you’ve solved the mystery and the puzzles they’re solved and the answers don’t change on a second go around.  It’s a solid offering that kept some good hooks in the story for future episodes, which I’m hoping we don’t have to wait long for.

Top Gaming Moment: I liked the story of star crossed romance that was woven in with the puzzles.  It was a nice change from a lot of the more typical adventure game stories and added depth to Professor Hunt.

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By Nicolas19 (SI Core Veteran) on Dec 08, 2008
Fantastic game, has really great atmosphere. Breathtaking backgrounds, fulfilled characters, and a calm, gentle feeling. If you've ever been to Toledo (like I did), you'll find it even more appalling.