Agents of Mayhem Review

Richard Walker

Agents of Mayhem isn't that much like Saints Row (but sort of is a little bit). Let's get that right out of the way now. A strictly single-player affair, you can't make your own character, the open-world gameplay is limited, and the focus is on shooting endless waves of evil LEGION soldiers. It's repetitive, fairly formulaic and not particularly inventive, but damn it, Agents of Mayhem is fun anyway. At face value, Volition's Saints spin-off seems shallow, but it's a game with surprising depth, even if the action is largely a case of shoot stuff, rinse and repeat.

Inspired by 80s Saturday morning cartoons like G.I. Joe, MASK, Thundercats and the like, AoM has you playing as a selection of MAYHEM agents (the title really does what it says on the tin) each with their own weapons, gadgets and abilities. Your job is to eliminate the forces of LEGION and prevent them from destroying the world, which essentially boils down to trawling through dungeons (AKA lairs) that all look alike, taking down outposts, destroying doomsday weapons and yes, shooting countless baddies in the face.

Hollywood dashing through the sky, yesterday.

Set in Seoul, South Korea, this is a far cry from the antics you got up to in Stilwater and Steelport, although you can leap and bound all over the place, you can't to the ludicrous degree that you could in Saints Row IV. The key to the game's enjoyable traversal is a triple jump, ledge grab, mantle and the ability that some agents have to dash through the air. It makes jumping from rooftop to rooftop almost Spider-Man-esque, while getting around Seoul's streets is a simple case of hitting up on the d-pad to beckon your vehicle.

Unlocking the full complement of 12 agents means completing their own personal missions, so naturally they'll be the first thing you'll want to do, variety being the spice of life and all that. Doing this also boosts the number of different agent combinations you can mess around with, meaning you can experiment with different teams of three. Once you've picked your agents and chosen their character and weapon skins (of which there are loads to unlock), you can then deploy into the field and switch between them at any time. You'll soon come to have your favourites too, Daisy, Fortune and Yeti being personal favourites, while the ninja stylings of Scheherazade and the Hitman cool of Oni make them go-to picks.

AoM's ballistic action comes thick and fast, the difficulty level ramping up as your agents reach higher levels. You can choose from more than a dozen difficulty levels too if you feel the challenge isn't quite enough for you (or indeed too much), not that that's likely to be the case. Things get pretty chaotic in Agents of Mayhem, and the sheer number of explosions, sparks and bullets that fly can be a bit much at times. Activate your agent's Mayhem ability once it's charged up, and the freneticism only escalates, until the screen is awash with flashy effects and things going boom.

The gunplay is slick, intuitive and accessible, at times deliriously fun in spite of its repetitive nature, but it's the light RPG elements beneath the game's veneer that offer a welcome respite from murdering enemies and blowing stuff up. Back at your hub - The Ark - you can send agents not in your party off on contracts around the world, sort your agents' loadouts, change and customise your vehicle, purchase requisitioned upgrades, craft powerful Gremlin tech to take into battle, or undergo agent training in the VR 'Wreck Room'.

Outfitting your agents with a variety of gadgets, applying upgrade points earned when levelling up and dark matter core upgrades boost your agents while granting them certain status effects to boot all adds to the RPG-lite depth. And like an RPG, AoM has hit points flying out of enemy's heads, status effects like slow, blind, stun and so on, meaning there's a bit more to it than just mindless shooting, even if it does still feel like mindless shooting much of the time, regardless.

At least there's a modicum of strategy to agent-switching and getting your loadouts right, and as different LEGION troops possess varying abilities - like the bufftrooper who as his name suggests, buffs his allies with invulnerability or snipetroopers who can be lethal if not dealt with swiftly - you'll need to isolate who needs taking out first. And when your chosen agent's health gets dangerously low, you can switch them out and let them recharge. If they're downed, meanwhile, grabbing a fleur-de-lys pick-up will revive them.

Rama and her bow prove a badass combo, but is a bit slow.

An excellent spread of achievements (with some fantastic achievement art) support all of Agents of Mayhem's activities, from completing campaign missions to levelling your agents and carrying out all manner of tasks across Seoul. You'll need to delve into the game's online Contracts too, completing some of the connected objectives that change on a regular basis. Some achievements also lean towards replaying missions and collecting dark matter shards too, so expect to grind a bit if you're planning on completing the entire list. I just want that achievement that has artwork homaging The Goonies.

Agents of Mayhem is a solid shooter with a neat character switching mechanic and an infectious sense of fun. It's biggest problem is an over-reliance on sending you into samey-looking lairs, performing the same hacking mini-game ad infinitum, and engaging in much the same activities over and over again. At its best when you're in the midst of a frantic battle, Agents of Mayhem grows very repetitive, very fast, but scratch beneath its surface, and you'll find hidden depths. There's also something strangely compulsive – almost hypnotically so – about playing AoM. Let it get its hooks into you and you'll likely be pursuing 100%. Simple, straightforward, fun, it's hard to resist.

Agents of Mayhem

A bit of a departure from Saints Row (though not really a massive one), Agents of Mayhem is an entertaining spin-off shooter laced with RPG elements that enhance an otherwise uncomplicated game. There's fun to be had here, providing you can get past the repetitive action.

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Decent voice work (except for a terrible Scottish accent) that conveys the game's sense of humour perfectly, and a pulsing soundtrack that complements the retina-searing action. Loadsa swears too.


Crisp, colourful and attractive, Agents of Mayhem's visual stylings are good, but there's a lot of repeated assets, especially in the repetitive lairs. Often it can hurt your eyes.


No slouch as a third-person shooter, there's a dose of strategy and some much-needed RPG depth too. AoM is intuitive, accessible stuff, and great fun to play.


A hefty game with a large campaign, plenty of side-missions (spin-offs), online Contracts, and more. Again, the issue is the game's inherently repetitious lairs that you have to complete all too often. At times, it can grow a bit tiresome.


A really strong list with an excellent spread. There's loads to do here, and only some of it errs slightly on the grindy side. The achievement tile artwork is stellar too.

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