Have you ever wanted to take a trip into the past? How about explore some of the most exotic places around the world? AGON (Ancient Game of Nations) is an adventure game published by Viva Media and developed by Planet Moon Studios that touches on these ideas. The game offers up content in an episodic fashion, with this retail release serving up the first three of a planned fourteen episode series.
These first three episodes of the AGON series take you to three incredibly different, yet incredibly beautiful locales: London, Lapland, and Madagascar. You begin in the office of Professor Samuel Hunt, who works in the museum in London. Hunt has stumbled upon the first in a series of clues of how to find the AGON, or Ancient Game of Nations - a string of ancient games with family secrets surrounding them.
The visual aspects of the game are stunning, with main visuals almost on par with the clarity and beauty of the background images (the developers need to work on the representation of female characters however since women don't tend to have such broad shoulders, heavy limbs, or thick facial features). The background for the Madagascar episode is beautiful, including an absolutely breathtaking sunset on the beach. There were no problems or visual glitches whatsoever - even the reflections on glass and water came off without a hitch.
Audio effects also worked really well, with no obvious sound problems. The character voice acting was well done and the background sounds added more to the game than they took away - a definite advantage, especially since game sound is usually so bland and boring or overly annoying.
Just make sure you've got those speakers turned up once you've landed in Madagascar. Both of them (or more, depending on your sound setup). Because otherwise, you'll end up lost in the jungle with no way out. For those of us with smaller speakers (or a limited sound setup), this was the most frustrating part of any game you've ever played. You have to listen to the lemur (a monkey-like creature) for loud and centered sounds - in one direction there is silence, another gives you a quiet shrill. Without a good pair of ears (or if you're unfortunate enough only have one working speaker) two directions will give you the same sound. Now you're stuck. And no walkthrough on Earth will help you. Before you spend three solid days trying to figure it out, just stop. Stop it. Now.
The gameplay and puzzles aren't too ridiculously simple or difficult, although there are several puzzles that will challenge your creative thinking. Be prepared with a notepad to write things down in, like puzzle designs and Morse code. There isn't much replay value in this, as the clues and puzzles won't change every time you play. There are some downsides to this, however -the developer has been very slow to release new episodes. Episodes one through three are all on the disc, while the release date of the next series keeps getting pushed back months at a time.
The Mysterious Codex contains the first three chapters in the AGON series, and takes the adventure genre back to its roots. Planet Moon has served up a very enjoyable adventure release, one of the best in the past few years. And then, there's that lemur...