Reading the Spudified names of pop culture icons is still a blast
Starting to lose its novelty
Singaporean developer Daylight Studios carries on the spud legacy with their 4th iteration of their Holy Potatoes! franchise, A Spy Story?!.
Like every other Holy Potatoes! game, A Spy Story?! has completely different game mechanics and objectives while holding the simulation game aspect constant. This time you’re playing the game from the the perspective of the sibling spies Ren and Rexa, who are on a mission to find their parents throughout the game.
The gameplay of the game is pretty simple worker placement/simulation, where you hire spies, train them and get them to create gadgets in order to send them on missions to earn money for your spy agency. Similar to previous Holy Potatoes! games each spud has 4 attributes that will determine their mission success, training them and ensuring that their stats are high and well rounded enough while keeping on an eye on the time is crucial to your success.
If you are not keeping your spy’s stats high enough and are unable to finish main story missions within the stipulated time, you’ll lose the game (I learnt this the hard way as I kept fast forwarding time and leaving most of my spies idle, causing them to have too low stats later in the game).
The Strategic element of the game comes into play when you have to decide which spy should tackle a mission and how they should go about doing it (Should the spud roundhouse kick this guard or use the ability on another guard who is only vulnerable to the spud’s weakest attribute), placing of the buildings is also important as buildings can receive bonuses from nearby decorations and the gadgets that you build and choose to use may also tip the scales in favour of the spies.
I definitely do like that every game of the Holy Potatoes! franchise has a different theme and gameplay mechanic while keeping some elements constant, such as the spuns (spud puns) or having VIP characters named after famous pop culture characters like Jamal Bond, this shows that each game still hasn’t forgotten the Holy Potatoes! identity.
However, after 4 games A Spy Story?! feels a little underwhelming, this game in particular feels a lot more like those Kairosoft simulator games you can now download on your phone, just with a potato theme and better graphics.
The story definitely does help give some attachment to the characters and definitely makes you want to play through the game to find out what happens in the end, but if Daylight studios doesn’t produce something a little more fresh like different graphics or a completely new gameplay style, the Holy Potatoes! franchise might take a nosedive in my honest opinion.
Overall, I still do believe the Holy Potatoes! A Spy Story?! is still a great game for casual gamers then just want to relax with a simulation game unless of course you want to play thought their hardcore mode where every decision may lead straight to a game over (I can’t even imagine the amount of time you have to press the pause button in the mode).