Agent Venture – Mission Three: B.A.D Side of the Moon [Hivemind Review]

Mission Three: B.A.D Side of the Moon is a digital escape game, designed for livestream play, created by Agent Venture in London, England.

Illustration of "Control" or spy dispatcher.

Format

Style of Play: digital escape game with audio roleplaying, designed for livestream play

Required Equipment: computer with internet connection

Recommended Team Size: 4-5

Play Time: 60-90 minutes

Price: tickets range from £10.00 – £14.00 per person

Booking: book online for a specific time slot

Description

Mission Three: B.A.D Side of the Moon is an audio roleplaying escape game with defined player roles, verbal NPC interaction, and extensive digital interactions. It is played over Zoom. Communication and information sharing are keys to success. Interactions with the performer are all verbal and solving puzzles takes place through Zoom, websites, Google Sheets, and PDFs.

Hivemind Review Scale

REA's hivemind review scale - 3 is recommended anytime, 2 recommended in quarantine, 1 is not recommended.

Read more about our Hivemind Review format.

Joel Smileypeacefun Reaction

Rating: 2 out of 3.

You’re asked to choose one of five roles for this game. Whatever you choose, your experience will be drastically different from that of the players in the other roles. I chose to be the Hacker.

At its best, I was surprised how interactive the puzzles were within Google Sheets. The Hacker puzzles had a great learning curve. I’ve criticized other escape games for being a bit simple. This, however, is high in complexity and difficulty.

At its worst, being a non-native English speaker was a disadvantage here. The story was way too complicated and I was constantly overwhelmed by what was going on. There was too much content to make it all the way through in one sitting. You just tackle as much of it as possible, which (as a completionist) not only felt unsatisfying but also turned otherwise fun puzzling into an unnecessarily stressful pressure cooker where we needed constant guiding by the gamemaster.

The ideas are fun, but the entire experience would benefit immensely from being edited down. If it wasn’t for the super helpful gamemaster, I would have rated this one out of three stars.

Matthew Stein’s Reaction

Rating: 3 out of 3.

The Agent Venture trilogy is, without a doubt, one of the most architecturally innovative puzzle-driven adventures to emerge from 2020, and Mission Three: B.A.D Side of the Moon is truly “out of this world.” I played (and reviewed) all three episodes in order (Mission One & Mission Two) and thoroughly enjoyed the continuous narrative, though I found the three games to be sufficiently modular that any order to the missions will make sense (in a Star Wars-y sort of way.) The more time you spend in the Agent Venture world, the more you’ll deepen your connection to and understanding of the characters and range of interactions, increasingly compounding your potential narrative immersion.

What perhaps impresses me most about these games from a design perspective is that while each has a unique and distinctive structure, the aesthetic vocabulary of interaction mechanics remains cohesive throughout the three missions. Within the trilogy, B.A.D Side of the Moon has the most transparent structure: in the main part of the game, there are 10 sub-missions, and you’re told directly you’ll only have time to complete 4-6 of them. But not to worry, there’s a good amount of redundancy built into the ending, leaving the overall game flow feeling fast, fair, and impeccably well planned. One of my small issues with the second mission was a slightly uneven start to the game, a problem which was fully remediated in this mission: the onboarding took place before the game timer began, during which time we were each given clear and simple tasks to ramp up on our individual mission files.

Richard Burns’ Reaction

Rating: 2 out of 3.

Agent Venture is my favorite provider for these types of online games: info dump, high stress, multiple browser tabs, and defined player roles with split information distribution requiring a ton of communication and coordination. B.A.D Side of the Moon did not disappoint. The voice acting and gamemaster work was amazing; it really made the game. The puzzle content was fair and provided each of us with small things to solve on our own, even while larger group solves were taking place.

This is a fun game to tackle with a group that works well together, but the format does have some downsides for me. I sometimes find it hard to distinguish which info was shared and which was only sent to me, making it difficult to know when to interrupt the conversations. When other players are discussing info that I didn’t have, I tended to tune them out as I searched around the multiple links in the game. Then when my help was required I had to scramble to click through all of my tabs looking for that thing I had just seen a minute ago. The gamemaster was great at gently prodding the appropriate player and a 5th player in the Coordinator role helped immensely, but it still felt overwhelming at times. Make sure players have a sense of what to expect.

Brett Kuehner’s Reaction

Rating: 3 out of 3.
  • + Onboarding flowed better than Mission Two
  • + Very good game structure, making all actions count while also allowing second chances
  • + Plenty of things to do, with an open structure that was easier to grasp than Mission Two
  • + The usual terrific voice performance and hosting by Agent H
  • + Good story, with a sense of humor showing up in both small and large ways
  • + The game had multiple goals that were somewhat complex, but they were explained clearly and we knew what we had to do
  • + We felt time pressure, but in an exciting way, and we had opportunities to have fun like we did in Mission One
  • + A very satisfying end to the Agent Venture trilogy

David Spira’s Reaction

Rating: 1 out of 3.

I genuinely loved Agent Venture’s Mission One: The Heist. The Communicator role felt like it was made for me. I so enjoyed the social engineering elements that the game allowed me to pursue.

I eagerly returned to Mission Three: B.A.D Side of the Moon, looking for Agent Venture to have built on that idea… and I felt it less. For the most part, I was doing more research and occasionally speaking passwords.

At its best, I really got to social engineer a situation, but that happened only once, and mostly because I forced my own solution onto the problem. That moment felt amazing because the game was flexible enough to allow it… but I wanted more of that. In this mission, it felt like too many of the roles had been homogenized.

Disclosure: Agent Venture provided the Hivemind reviewers with a discounted play.

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