Kovacs graduated from the academy but, is she really ready to be a spy in the field? Right at the beginning of The Low Road, it tests her knowledge on how to talk to suspects to get them to reveal information. Kovacs, you, quickly learn that you have to be any and everyone. This point and click puzzle platformer by XGenStudios is a simple adventure game. There are two agencies and one secret society. As a secret agent, you need to figure out what’s the next move and look for clues that will make infiltrating this secret society easier. It is a lot of double-crossing, snarky attitudes and pickpocketing going on in The Low Road. As Kovacs, you’re trying to work in the field and either agency will do. In order to prove yourself as a worthy spy, no matter which agency you do it for you has to take on the Docillio. Looking for a chance to prove yourself you do what you know best which is to lie & deceive. These are great characteristics to have as a secret agent.
During each mission, there are puzzles which need solving. Like connecting the tubes in the air conditioner system to temporarily break the AC in order to continue on with the story. Important high tech tools like invisible ink, a copier, a telephone, and a recording system are vital to completing missions. This platformer is a point and click. Whether Kovacs needs to walk upstairs, get across to the other side of the screen, talk to someone or acquire new materials, all of this is done by pointing and clicking. To acquire new materials you click and drag them into the filing folder. This part may get interesting on the Nintendo Switch because you will be using a Joycon or maybe the touchscreen feature. The game mechanics aren’t difficult for The Low Road; it’s the ability to utilize your surrounding to complete missions. Some things are very specific like pickpocketing and using keys. Pickpocketing requires you to take out items and replace them with something of the same weight. Then there is matching up keys in a specific order. Some of these puzzles make you really think but, the positive aspect is there is no timer. Starting the first mission, which is a phone call to an accomplice of the Docillio, you have a dossier with information. It’s up to Kovacs to figure out which information to use and what the right answers are without a time limit. The person on the phone is none the wiser if takes five seconds to figure out the answer or five minutes.
The music matched the theme which is a 70s style private investigator vibe. Each soundtrack matches each scene. Since this game is split up into chapters, each chapter introduction has a song. The songs are really calm and subtle background music. It doesn’t add to the suspense. The only thing which creates a sense of urgency is the voice tones of the characters. Every character needs to be spoken with; the dialogue is one thing this game isn’t lacking. It is very important because there are clues hidden within each character. The sound effects that are being used don’t overshadow the ambiance, they add to it. There aren’t any sounds that feel out of place. If the puzzle consists of metal you hear the sounds of metal, even while using the tape recorder you hear exactly what a tape recorder sounds like.
This game feels like a textured painting, a bit abstract because of how the shades and tones in the faces. Movement is very fluid, not choppy. With the point and click feature, the characters move seamlessly across the screen. The colors aren’t too vibrant. Nothing stands out, especially the clues or items needed until it is clicked upon. Everything looks like it is a part background. This makes it a bit harder to spot what is needed for upcoming missions but, this isn’t a bad thing. It feeds into the theme which is, how well you can spot clues.
The Low Road has a high replay value because there is a chance Kovacs will fail the mission therefore starting again from the last checkpoint. If a vital mission is failed there will be a detailed outcome and a synopsis of what happens to each character in the story. There could be many ways to get the same outcome however, there are certain events that need to be followed for the vital missions. And some missions are going to be an automatic fail no matter how many times they are replayed. That may just be the cost of getting used to being a spy.
What stood out to me was the 70s spy theme. As someone who was interested in watching The BlacKKKlansman, this feel into my lap at a great time. I was on a role for 70s Blaxplotation films.
At first, it was a bit difficult to get into because it looks simple but, I really have to get into and look at the details of each scene. Plus, I came from playing games where speaking to everyone on screen wasn’t necessary to play this game where you couldn’t get anywhere without speaking to everyone. Playing this game on PC I mostly use the keyboard and mouse. There isn’t an option to use an Xbox controller. So, I’m not sure how the mechanics will work for the Nintendo Switch. I’m not sure if XGenStudios will add a mechanic so it will be easier to use the Joycon because I’m not sure how an Xbox controller or any controller would work with a point and click game. For example, would my joystick be an arrow and then I press the ‘A’ button to click, that seems tedious. This game doesn’t need a lot of sound effects. You have enough to worry about solving the puzzles and quickly reading through dossier to also feel pressure from the soundtrack. There is a lot of dialogue and so much of it is important. At some point I was failing missions and redoing cutscenes; I skipped those. I replayed certain scenes to see if I could get a better outcome and there may be an algorithm tied to each answer which could cause success or immediate failure, that’s where the thrill comes from.
I liked playing this game. It was frustrating once I learned that I need to talk to everyone and play along with their word games and use their lingo. There was more dialogue than I cared to go through because I kept failing missions multiple times. I had to go through the same experience and the same conversation multiple times. And certain conversations couldn’t be avoided the second or third time around because there needed to be a change in the answers I gave. I would like to play this on the Switch to check out the mechanics but for now, I think I’ve had my fill of this game on PC. Feel free to check out my livestream of the few chapters.
The Low Road releases on the Nintendo Switch Aug 23, 2018. This game released on Steam July 26, 2017.