TEEN AGENT / Metropolis Software House / PC

Teen Agent is a satirical, cartoony adventure in the vein of Willy Beamish or Flight of the Amazon Queen. It comes from a little Polish outfit that only had sporadic, oddball releases through the 90s and 00s until they surprisingly became one of the publishers of The Witcher 2 a couple years ago. I think this might have been their very first game, at least I don't see any dated before it. I think it was also only distributed in Europe, but it's freeware now and GOG tosses it to you automatically when you set up an account with them.

The game has a bit of the fun anarchic spirit of the first two Monkey Islands in that it plays things fully self-aware that it's a game and has some fun with adventure game conventions. You're in the role of some teenage nobody recruited by a shadowy but questionably competent government agency that deals with paranormal stuff. You were picked by having a psychic point to a name in a phone book, because the agency is officially out of recruitment ideas. Nobody expects this to actually work, but after you puzzle your way through a series of goofy tests at the agency training compound, they decide to actually give you a shot at field work.

So in case you were looking at this in GOG and thinking it's some lame family-friendly adventure, it's actually a snarky and bizarre comedy aimed at adults experienced with the genre. It isn't very difficult, though, with a "context cursor" sort of system instead of a verb or icon menu. Deaths are few and far between, and mostly seem to be included as jokes if you do something obviously dumb and dangerous.

Unfortunately, the grim companion of the simplified context cursor is usually dream logic puzzles, since the only other way to reliably create challenge in such a system is pixel-hunting or unfair obscurity. Some puzzles in Teen Agent only make sense in the most warped way and basically boil down to haphazardly trying your inventory on whatever hotspots are available. Things are exacerbated a bit by a non-intuitive system to access your inventory; you have to hover the pointer for a few seconds near the top-center of the screen (at a point that seems to vary in tolerance somewhat from screen to screen) to bring it up. Without knowing how this works it's easy to get the impression on some screens that the game has glitched up and you can't access your inventory anymore.

The game's goofball sense of humor and catchy MOD-style soundtrack almost make the whole trip worthwhile, though. It's a short one, with only two game areas beyond the initial training facility, but if you're in the "Dad Gamer" age bracket these days that might actually be a good thing.

Videos :

* Gameplay Video