Agon: Episode 2, Adventures in Lapland

Developer/Publisher:  Private Moon Studios
Year Released:  2003

Review by Rosemary Young (January, 2004)
Well we didn't have long to wait for the second chapter of the Agon story. I enjoyed the first chapter and this one also has a definite charm of its own. Plus there is a board game challenge to complete the quest.

You join Professor Samuel Hunt as he continues his hunt ferreting out clues and following the trail of an ancient evil. The story began in London, The British Museum to be precise, and it now continues in Lapland as he takes the first step of his journey. There are 12 more chapters to go, and for more information about the episodic nature of this game and the interface check out my previous review.

Someone has already walked this way ...
Once more the opening credits and music are excellent, carrying the promise of adventure and intrigue. Following on from this an open book tells the tale of the last chapter just in case you need reminding. This lead-in works just fine except that the open book doesn't stay open long enough. I didn't have time to complete the reading so I 'captured' the screen and read it in a graphics program.

That was soon forgotten, however, as Professor Hunt alighted from his train onto a lonely, snowbound station. No one is waiting there to meet him so it's up to you to help him on his way. This involves searching the station and finding further transport without the help of the incumbent stationmaster who is indisposed. A nice touch is that you can learn something about his background, including the reason for his present predicament, as you shuffle through letters and other documents. As with the first game you will need to do some research before you can move on and jot down snippets of information to learn how to manipulate a couple of mechanical devices.

Someone knows the secret ...
This time, though, the puzzles are slightly more difficult than in the first chapter and they include a lengthy message in Morse code to decipher. This exercise will provide you with a clue to help out, but it isn't absolutely necessary to complete in order to finish the game. Along with this there is also a plan to interpret, which you do have to deal with or you won't get far. This is the tricky part of the game and held me up for a while. After that, if you have been alert and reading carefully, it won't be long before you're taking a journey across the windswept whiteness to another cold and isolated location, and then on to finish this episode with the promised board game.

Again it took me a little longer than three hours to complete this chapter, not including winning the board game which added another half an hour or so. There are ample instructions for the game so it's not too difficult to win. When you are finally victorious you can play again and again against the computer, or go online and play against other Agon fans! And, of course, await the next chapter of the story.

Someone started a game
Agon Chapter 2, Adventures in Lapland, is another short and sweet little journey. I'm certainly enjoying it and will play more but I can't deny that an extra puzzle in the latter part of this episode would have given it more balance. One puzzle towards the end of the game is also optional and could have been better integrated.

The Agon 2 graphics are as good as ever and so is the music. Both add up to a great atmosphere - playing it in 100 degrees Fahrenheit I almost reached for a blanket. So Private Moon Studios, the team that developed this game, have produced another engaging chapter, even though the English dialogue is a little odd at times. But rather than being a problem this adds a layer of charm to the game and a bit of eccentricity to Professor Hunt's character. The game is in English but you can enable subtitles for Hungarian, French and German.

As noted in my first review, if each of the 14 Agon chapters offer around three hours of gameplay the complete game promises 40 or more hours, plus extra time for playing the board games. It is only available for download and each chapter costs US $9.80 with the last one free for those who have purchased the previous chapters.

If you haven't had a look at it, download the demo and try it out. I know that episodic games always have an uphill journey and Agon started out on its journey with an extra burden, the need to register online to 'unlock' the game before it could be played. Take note, this is no longer the case as this chapter comes complete with its own key-code to unlock it and start playing, online registration is no longer necessary.

Agon 1 and 2 can be downloaded and purchased online from Private Moon Studios. Each chapter is approximately 150 MB, cut into 5 pieces to make download easier. At the Agon site you can download various other goodies including screensavers, music clips and screenshots.

Copyright © Rosemary Young 2004. All rights reserved.

System Requirements:
Windows 98/Me/2000/XP, 400 Mhz Pentium II or equivalent processor, 64 MB RAM, 16 MB DirectX 8.0 Compatible 3D Video Card (TNT2 or equal) DirectX Compatible Sound Card.

Optimal: Windows 98/Me/2000/XP, 800 Mhz Pentium III or equivalent processor, 128 MB RAM, 32 MB DirectX 8.0 Compatible 3D Video Card (GeForce2 or equal) DirectX Compatible Sound Card.