When Deep Silver announced the Saints Row spin-off Agents of Mayhem, I wondered to myself why they didn’t just make a Saints Row V instead. Having played it and checking out of all the new features it introduces to the series though, I think Agents of Mayhem is the right direction for the series.
Set after Saints Row IV: Gat Out of Hell where the Earth was being re-created, Agents of Mayhem sees a ragtag band of agents come together to form M.A.Y.H.E.M. (Multinational AgencY Hunting Evil Masterminds) with the goal of keeping the world safe from L.E.G.I.O.N. (the League of Evil Gentlemen Intent on Obliterating Nations). The game takes place in a future version of Seoul, South Korea, and although Saints Row and Agents of Mayhem share the same universe, Agents of Mayhem relies on itself rather than the popularity of its parent series, so don’t expect cameos and the like too often.
Agents of Mayhem excels in, well, mayhem. The world is your oyster and it’s made to be explored, and there are so many ways to get around including triple-jumps and dashes, a super-fast car which can be easily summoned and lifts which you can interact with around the city. It might not be as fast-based as the likes of Saints Row IV, but I like that it isn’t as easy to scale buildings because the satisfaction of reaching the top now is much greater. Seoul is brilliant to explore and I dig its futuristic and Asian aesthetic — it’s a nice blend which works well. The gunplay is solid and abilities are simple to use, and it’s not long until you’re kicking up a storm around your enemies.
Instead of being able to kit your character out with anything available, each agent has a unique weapon and abilities. It’s hard to only choose three per mission, but a series of exciting side-missions means that you’ll be able to easily level up each agent if you wish to. Some characters can turn invisible whilst others are able to cause destructive mayhem, and some opt for machine guns whilst another opts for a bow and arrow. There’s plenty to play around with, and this ability-based direction is something I’m very fond of. It helps to define and give each character individuality, and it’s fun to create a team which works well with each other.
Agents of Mayhem runs, feels and looks better than the PS4 version of Saints Row IV, and I’m impressed by its solid framerate despite the constant amount of action and animations going on at almost any given time. Black lines around the characters give the game an animated look without being too intrusive, and so the game’s stunning aesthetic isn’t tarnished whatsoever. It’s a wonderfully-realised world brimming with content to complete, and having it based on a near-future Seoul was a great decision. There’s plenty of skins for your characters and their equipment to unlock, and each agent stands out from one another.
It’s very rare I look at a voice cast for a game and actually have little knowledge on the people who are in it, but Agents of Mayhem boasts an entertaining dub which is an absolute delight to listen to. The banter between agents is funny and sounds entirely natural, and it got plenty of laughs from me thanks to the script and delivery. Every time you return to the Ark, your base of operations, a ’90s-style clip plays singing “Agents of Mayheeeeem!” and it fits the game perfectly. It has a solid soundtrack too although it’s not quite as notable as the rest of the game.
I enjoy the Saints Row series and was a little apprehensive when Agents of Mayhem was announced, but taken the series in a refreshing direction that I hope is further explored in future games. A wealth of content greets you the moment you begin the game, and it’s easy to become absorbed in it and it’s rapid action. Daily challenges allow agents from worldwide to work together to achieve set goals, but otherwise it’s a solo outing where you won’t play with other players. It stands strong as a single-player game, but I did miss co-op especially as this game would lend itself to it incredibly well.
If you’re looking for something that’ll make you laugh, keep you busy for a couple dozen hours and a great world to explore, then Agents of Mayhem is the game for you. My worries have long been put to rest, and Volition have done splendidly in freshening up Saints Row with this new spin-off. It’d be cool to see both worlds properly collide in future, but for now I’m going to go back to happily playing around Seoul.