Agents of Mayhem is essentially a single player hero shooter where you can switch between 3 characters in an instant. All 12 characters have unique weapons, different HP, a power on a cooldown as well as an ultimate ability which can be used once you’ve collected enough mayhem.
The shooting itself is fun and the not realistic at all mechanics feel right at home with the aesthetic and the vibe of the game. The combat is designed around being on the move at all times, and sitting in one place is the best way of getting yourselves killed. Agents of Mayhem is all about combining run-and-gun with triple jump and a dash. It feels extremely satisfying to take out hordes of enemies by mixing all of your abilities with the movement controls. I had upgraded my main character to a point where he would drop a grenade upon dashing and his mayhem ability also happened to drop explosives everywhere, resulting in me just dashing around and obliterating everyone without shooting a single bullet.
Those looking for an abundance of creative and fun arsenal will be disappointed as almost all of the weapons available to you are too standard. Shotgun, assault rifle, minigun, dual pistols, smg with a few interesting ones such as a silenced pistol that can kill enemies with one shot and another with ice based attacks. Each character can add special effects to their power, weapon and a passive effect by selecting one of three gadgets. You can use Gremlin tech which basically act as consumables that can help turn the tide in your favour or Legion tech and Core Upgrades that provide further bonuses to your abilities. That is the extent of the customization on offer.
I found the progression system ultimately lacking with regards to the length and content present in the game. While all of the enhancements do make a significant difference, you will quickly select your favourites and stick with them. As such, you will still be utilizing the same abilities and upgrades you unlocked in the first few missions during end game. You do get more xp, cash, skins and crafting material, but nothing that has a major impact on the flow of combat. With around 15 difficulty levels, it encourages repeating content and taking part in all of its activities, but doesn’t necessarily offer the rewards. As a result, playing the entirety of Agents of Mayhem with only your main team can get boring.
There are also little opportunities to combine abilities. There are times when you must switch characters, such enemies that have both shields and armor, but otherwise you can pretty much play with a single hero, only changing when your hp is too low. Though dying in Agents of Mayhem can be extremely punishing because you must collect Mayhem to revive teammates. There were several instances where the character who could deal significant damage to armored enemies died, making that particular encounter extremely challenging.
Thankfully the instant switching mechanic works incredibly well and almost all the characters are fun to use, making levelling up the reserve team anything but a chore. The charming cast and the mission design also play a large part in making sure you are always entertained, no matter what part of the game you are playing. I mostly stuck with Hollywood, Fortune and Joule as my main party but often switched to Rama, Oni and Yeti for side content. All characters have their own lines for every mission, and the little details such as their unique animations as they warp into vehicles really adds to the overall relaxed and fun tone of the game. In addition, all of them have their own character quests.
The main objective of the game is to stop the plans of Doctor Babylon and its divided into several sets of missions, each dedicated to one of his henchmen. Over the course of the game, you will protect the citizens from getting entranced by a douchey singer and deal with several personalities of a moody AI. The antagonists are just as charming and entertaining as the main cast. The missions themselves are well designed as they string together driving, platforming and combat with enough variety and an interesting short story for each adversary. The boss fights in particular are thrilling encounters with multiple stages as well as unique mechanics; and almost all sub-plots have a satisfying conclusion.
Aside from the main story, there are plenty of activities available in the open world from races, defending points of interest, rescuing citizens, stealing cars, destroying equipment and daking down massive machines that drop ice bombs all over the map. If you have played Saints Row IV, you will be extremely familiar with the overall structure and design of the game. There is indeed a hub area you can teleport back to where you can upgrade your characters, send other characters on time based missions all over the globe, take on AR challenges and so on.
While the open world is fun to explore, a lot of the combat also takes place in underground lairs which are anything but. Aesthetically they are boring, and the level design and encounters are far too restrictive. The areas are too small for you to utilize your movement abilities and it ends up being a chore. All of the lairs look the same and have a similar structure. You fight some enemies, hack some terminals, go to the next room and repeat. Think of it like going through the same dungeon over and over again, in both main and side content, with very little changes.
I encountered multiple bugs in various aspects of the game over the course of my playthrough. This includes sound issues, characters not being able to climb and jump properly and so on. I did not encounter anything game breaking or something that would block progress.
Agents of Mayhem is unique mashup of Saints Row IV and a hero shooter. Some of its ideas work better than others, the lairs are overused and I do feel like combat needed more options for those playing with just one set of characters. Regardless, I had a really good time playing through it and will go back to finish the character quests for everyone I ignored.