I think we'll be playing stealth games forever. While combat is what most people crave, there's a definite appeal to sneaking around and avoiding conflict that so many people resonate with. That's where Rogue Agent [Free] comes in, providing tons of subversion in the shadows while maintaining a quasi-interesting clandestine storyline.
At the start of Agent, the game sets up a sort of amnesiac narrative, where it's not clear who you are or what you're doing. Not that it really matters, as the tutorial swiftly introduces you to its core mechanics, which mostly consists of "tap to move." Across 52 levels you'll slyly attempt to navigate labyrinthine mazes, and learn new puzzle concepts to reach each individual finish line. Along the way, enemies will increase in frequency, power-ups will make an appearance, and the useful double-tap sprint ability becomes even more useful.
But you're not going to spend that much time running around, as Rogue Agent is a thinking man's game. Guards have patterns, much like the famed Metal Gear Solid series, so moving around with a plan in mind is paramount. While the first few arenas weren't all that complicated, I enjoyed learning all of the ins and outs of the enemies later on, especially with some of the more complex mazes.
Soon, you'll star to recognize some more nuances that will help you on your way, like entering the shadows to hide yourself from guards. Naturally, the game gets harder the more you play it, as guards will employ newer, more aggressive tactics, but the aforementioned powerups serve to not only provide you with new toys to play with, but up the fun factor as well. For instance, there's a stealth suit in some stages, which you'll need to employ at the right time to exit a stage. Activation is as easy as tapping on your character, which is just as responsive as movement.
What I really like about Agent however is its need to constantly mix up gameplay. Rather than have you deal with a series of corridors, it mixes things up with the occasional minigame. You've probably played all of these before, whether it's wire re-routing or hacking, but they're a nice little break from the core loop. The narrative has the propensity to play into the background and get a little dull at times, but it works well enough. Initially the amnesia element wears off, as you'll soon realize, well, that you're literally a rogue agent that's wrapped up in a bigger issue at hand, as the story is told through esoteric dialogue cards. The visual style reminds me of those classic Army Men games, which is a plus, though the graphical fidelity, even on a newer device, isn't all that eye-popping.
With no IAP in sight and great pacing, Rogue Agent is a great way to spend an evening for stealth fans. There's enough variety in there to keep you busy, and though the aesthetics may not grow on you over time, the gameplay will.
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