Shifting from a successful, established franchise to a brand-new concept is never easy for any developer. Earlier this year, gaming saw Guerrilla Games effectively make the shift from Killzone to Horizon Zero Dawn. For years, Deep Silver Volition has been the developer of the Saints Row series, but now they are shifting to a new brand, Agents of Mayhem.

Not only has Deep Silver Volition done a fine job of creating an entertaining experience in the form of Agents of Mayhem, but they have made a product that has the potential to surpass Saints Row itself. Agents of Mayhem is a marvelous example of balancing action, humor, gameplay and style all into one glorious package. This game is a must play in 2017.

After having spent dozens of hours playing Volition’s new open-world, I can’t help but want to go back and begin another playthrough. Let’s start with the 12 different agents you have to work with. Gamers set a loadout of three agents at a time and can immediately shift from agent to agent mid-gameplay. You can do this anytime, as the game does not restrict when you can shift from agent to agent.

Agents I primarily played as were Hardtack, Fortune and then I continued to toss a new agent into my third slot every time I unlocked a new one. Volition does a fine job of crafting unique abilities and strengths for each agent you unlock. Unlocking new agents is done by completing agent-specific quests scattered around the city of Seoul, South Korea. It is great how you can play through hours of Agents of Mayhem, and then suddenly, unlocking a new agent injects a new dynamic into the gameplay.

Fortune and Glory make the perfect duo, particularly with her Mayhem ability (Courtesy of Deep Silver).

If you are still unlocking new agents toward the end of the campaign, you should be careful with equipping them, given the fact that they are low level and you are facing some very challenging enemies then. I love how each agent brings their own story and reason for joining Mayhem. Not all of them are in it for the cause of defeating Legion. Not all are in it for the thrill of smashing enemy faces in left and right. Each has their own story and this adds a nice element to the game’s narrative and feel.

Speaking of the narrative, Agents of Mayhem‘s story will not be setting any new standards anytime soon. That said, it is a serviceable tale and does a nice job of embellishing the roles of key characters like Persephone Brimstone and Dr. Babylon. Bosses on the Legion side of things are actually well done, and all have their own quirks to make them unique to dislike. A personal favorite has to be August Gaunt, who is absolutely a Justin Bieber clone. Taking him down provides some of the game’s funnier moments.

Hammersmith is another challenging foe gamers will need to face, but nothing compares to the battle you’ll endure against Dr. Babylon. I really enjoy the personalities on both Mayhem and Legion, and can tell Volition spent a great amount of time making them feel convincing, unique and interesting. Even if they are a bit over the top, but that’s kind of the point, right? Bucking tradition, Agents of Mayhem also features animated cutscenes, which are absolutely awesome. They do a wonderful job of establishing the brand’s unique persona and quite frankly, they’re a refreshing alternative.

What’s great about Agents of Mayhem is its gameplay, and more specifically, its combat. Combat is often times a furious chess match in which you’ll have to learn your agents skills and weaknesses. Once you learn them, combat then becomes a systemic joy of taking down enemy after enemy. Thanks to her agility and precision, Fortune has an easy time taking down heavier enemy types. Thanks to his powerful shotgun and deadly melee attack, Hardtack quickly disposes of lighter, more agile foes.

Hammersmith readies for combat in one of the many boss fights (Courtesy of Deep Silver).

There are so many different bosses you’ll encounter in Agents of Mayhem. You’ll feel like you’re in a boss fight every few missions, which is a surprisingly fun and rewarding occurrence. It’s bosses galore and by the time you get to each one, you’ll be quite good at disposing them. These encounters aren’t the only challenging combat sequences you’ll experience because basic combat through Legion Lair side missions means fending off throngs of enemies.

Using your Mayhem ability is very rewarding, but be careful when you use it. It’s a short burst and can help you out in a tight spot, but if you use it too quick, you might regret it. Volition decides to have separate Mayhem meters for each agent. If you kill 10 enemies with Hardtack, five with Fortune and two with Scheherazade, Hardtack’s Mayhem meter will be the highest. I actually enjoy this design choice by Volition.

Had Mayhem ability meters been a universal meter for all three agents, I think that would have cheapened the experience of unlocking your Mayhem ability. When you can use your Mayhem ability, it truly is an exciting moment and is one that’s rare enough to make it special. Overall, combat is extremely rewarding and once you level up your agents, you may even seek out conflict to show how badass your squad is.

Changing up your agents can be done by visiting the Ark. This is the home base of Mayhem and is where you can also create Gremlin and Legion tech. These provide perks and bonuses for your agents. Other stations around the Ark allow players to participate in training missions. They are a nice way of gaining extra cash early one. Players can also visit the armory to improve their arsenal and equip Legion tech they have just crafted.

A bird’s eye view of the beautiful city of Seoul, South Korea (Courtesy of Deep Silver).

The open-world of Seoul, South Korea isn’t the biggest from a landscape perspective. However, it is the verticality that makes its world so deep. Thrilling gameplay awaits players on top of buildings, on the ground and in some cases, underground. The city is absolutely beautiful with its neon-painted buildings and streets. Cars are eccentric and have a foreign look that fits well with its setting.

Traversal feels absolutely amazing, particularly with agents like Fortune. Scaling towering skyscrapers or unusual Legion structures is a very fulfilling experience. Those who master traversal will find great satisfaction, as well as a whole bunch of Shards, which are littered throughout Seoul. These help you enable permanent perks for your agents. The triple jump is a nice stray away from convention and it works great in gameplay. Particularly in combat, the triple jump enables players to do more than the usual double jump does.

Not only is the city stunning, but there are so many activities for gamers to engage with. Side content includes Hostage Rescues, Mayhem Deliveries, Recon Runs, Legion Lairs, Relic’s Trading Company and more. The rescue missions are quick sources of cash and resources, but be careful not to kill your hostage! Mayhem Deliveries are explosive quests where you drive a car into a Legion target. At the last minute, you jump out and the target goes kaboom. Recon Runs are an absolute blast, as you complete race courses that weave through the city.

Legion Lairs happen to be some of the more difficult missions in Agents of Mayhem. Gamers infiltrate a Legion Lair and then fight through throngs of enemies. Once they are all gone, gamers receive a wonderful bonus of cash, scrap and more. These missions are excellent for leveling up a low level agent. Finally, Relic missions ask you to kill a bunch of Legion and then you unlock these banks, which periodically generate cash.

Legion’s bosses are some of the toughest you’ll face in Agents of Mayhem (Courtesy of Deep Silver).

Global Conflict is another great way to earn cash and resources. Players assign agents who aren’t in their loadout to complete tasks for them outside of Seoul. All of this can contribute to your agents’ progression, the rate at which correlates to the difficulty level you choose. As you level up, you can equip three abilities per agent and Volition provides plenty of options.

Performance wise, I didn’t find any glaring issues with bugs or frame rate drops. Rare instances showed choppy screens, but they didn’t come into play too often. From a level design standpoint, Legion Lairs are a bit repetitive in how they are set up. Their look doesn’t vary a ton, so some players might take issue with this. However, I was too busy blasting away enemies, finding loot boxes and netting XP to have it really affect my experience.

From my time in Agents of Mayhem, it’s clear that Volition has a new hit on their hands. The lore is very intriguing and the potential for taking the franchise to other cities is limitless. Volition does a wonderful job of establishing Agents of Mayhem, and its gameplay takes it to the next level.

Deep Silver’s Agents of Mayhem provides the perfect blend of action, personality and familiarity to make it an open-world worth experiencing. The game is now available on PS4, Xbox One and PC. Stick around here at We Write Things for more on Agents of MayhemDeep Silver provided We Write Things with a PS4 review code of Agents of Mayhem for the purposes of this review. 

About Steve Ruygrok

Gaming, Spirits, and Craft Beer enthusiast. If you say you don't like beer, then you just haven't had the right type yet. Great spirits keep away the bad ones. Video games are kind of amazing, just do it...or something like that.